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may the fourth be with you

May the fourth be with you

(Sorry about that title. I couldn't resist)

It's Independence Day here in U.S.A., a day to celebrate freedom and liberty and the pursuit of those things.

I am an American. Do I love my country? For the most part, I do. Do I love everything my country stands for? Somewhat.

The great thing about being an American is my freedom to dissent. I can stand up and say I do not agree with your opinion, I do not agree with your actions. I can stand up and say these things about my own government and not be thrown into jail or stoned to death.

I have the right to say these things, just as much as you have the right to not agree with what I say, and to let me know that. That's what freedom means to me.

I have the right to question my government and their actions. I have a right to not say the pledge if I don't want to. I have a right to not believe in God.

Perhaps some of these rights have had a shadow cast over them since last year. The "if you are not with us, you are against us" attitude has been prevelant recently.

I posted this right here on September 19th:

I do not have a flag on my car. I am not wearing any kind of red, white and blue ribbon. There is a flag hanging from my house, but it's been there since my grandfather was alive and lived there, many years ago. I have been called unpatriotic. I have been called un-American. Because I haven't displayed my colors in support of this country in its time of need.

Honestly, I have not been a big supporter of this country all along. I find many things wrong with not only our politics, but our people as a whole. I spend a lot of this time on this very weblog complaining about the corruption of our government, the hypocrisy of our leaders, the rampant racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and elitism in this country. I've railed against republicans and democrats alike. Liberals and conservatives. There are a whole lot of things wrong in this country. Please do not tell me you don't know that. Yes, I know I should be happy that I live in a free land. I am. And that freedom gives me the right to voice my opinion. It gives you the right to ignore me, too.

The swell of patriotism that is sweeping this country is nice. But being the cynical bastard that I am, I question it. I question why it took over 1,000 dead people for the citizens of this country to decide they need to be nice to each other. I wonder if you know that while you are out waving your flag and calling for the heads of those responsible, the usual American life is going on. Murders, rapes and robberies are still happening. Gays are still being bashed, and in the national news, no less. Kids are still being abused. Our environment is still being fucked. So pardon me if I don't suddenly whip my flag out and start waving with you.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be a part of it. But should I expected to do a complete 360 and suddenly become a patriot? Can't I just quietly feel for the victims and mourn for the state of our nation and feel angry at those responsible without painting my face our new school colors?

I am overwhelmed at the display of kinship and love that we have seen this past week. It brings tears to my eyes. I am part of this, too. I mourn and grieve and a part of me wants to kick some ass. But I would be labeled a hypocrite if I stood out on my street waving a flag right now. Rightfully so. 1,000 victims makes this country a very sad place. Makes it an angry place. It doesn't wipe out its past indiscretions or make me feel like I should forget everything I despise about it and start singing "God Bless America" just to be a part of the whole.

I just find it hard to get swept in it when the same people who are praising cops are the people who were calling them "pigs" last week. That the guys now wearing FDNY hats are the same ones who wouldn't pull over for a volunteer fireman last week. That the people who couldn't be bothered to vote in last year's presidential election are now chanting USA! at passing cars.

Just because there is no flag on my car doesn't mean I am not part of you. It doesn't mean I am rooting for the other team. It doesn't mean I don't feel. It just means I want to do it in my own way, in my own time, on a more subtle level.

I will not be waving a flag today. It doesn't mean that I don't love living here, or that I don't want to be an American. It just means I am showing my freedom to dissent, my freedom to not drape my feelings about my country in a flag, my freedom to question and dissent.

For my American readers, enjoy your holiday. You have the freedom to shoot off fireworks, just as much as you have the freedom to shoot off those fireworks while drunk and blow off part of your hand. You have the freedom to shoot off your bottlerockets and roman candles in front of my house, just as much as I have the freedom to kick your ass when one of them hits my car.

Yea, I love America. I do. I just hate people.


Growing up in the United States, I was always, since childhood, a critic of the military-industrial complex, corporate and other greed, a culture of waste, etc etc. There are many facets of life in the United States that I hated then and still do. When I finally emigrated, for a variety of reasons, my distaste for those aspects of the United States made it easy for me. But now, two decades after leaving, I still have my US citizenship, because after traveling around the world it turns out I'm proud of what the U.S. still stands for - proud of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the freedoms they guarantee, unequalled in most countries. I am for this reason sickened by the current attacks on these freedoms in the name of freedom. Or is it security?

Happy Independance Day, chiquita. I will celebrate with you in spirit by sitting on my ass and eating ice cream sandwiches today.

Oh my God what do I see?
Is this what they called 'the land of the free'
Where a he turns out to be a she
But where I can't say 'fuck' live on t.v.?

Oh my God what did I see?
It's a bunch of rednecks live on t.v.
People don't worry, Jerry has the key
Join and destroy your family

Jerry rules in the land of the free
The king, the God of American TV

Oh my God, what drugs is he on?
How long does it take to find such a moron?
And while the audience shouts 'Jerry, Jerry'
They got fooled by a woman called Jim Carrey

Oh my dear, this show is a thrill
Is that Hillary who beats the shit out of Bill?
If you really show us U.S. society today
I'd best call Saddam "send bombs rightaway!"

text: heideroosjes

I loved that entry. It's nice to see that conscious Americans actually do exist.

Yep. Gimme a horse any day.

Happy Fourth, Michele. Keep up the good work, we expatriots are counting on you. Among others.

I'm looking forward to the weekend stats where deaths from drunk revelerer drivers is stacked up against deaths due to overt terrorism.

Your ability to articulate these thoughts and emotions outdoes me once again, Michele. Well said.

Sadly, my friends, we who share these views are in the minority and we are threatened by a majority that cannot or will not be persuaded to see things from any other viewpoint. I just read a great quote on MetaFilter from Benjamin Franklin: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." I'm beginning to think we should follow the example of the lamb before it's lunchtime.

Brian said:"we who share these views are in the minority and we are threatened by a majority that cannot or will not be persuaded to see things from any other viewpoint."

I'm not sure you're correct here, Brian. That sounds awful fatalistic, and a tad victim-oriented.

There are thousands, millions of us out here in corporate USA, the land of the Hate and Greed filled, who share Michele's view. Many, many more than you might think.

There are also those of us, for whatever reason, who see everything you're talking about (and more) and choose (note keyword: choose) to focus on a different directive than dissent. And that doesn't make those of us who feel this way any less valid than anyone else. Some choose to overtly attack an obstacle; others choose to infect the obstacle with our own blend of cancerous growth. The latter certainly appears less volatile and potent, but I assure you, it is not.

I've always found a lot I can agree with in Michele's thoughts. I've found as much or more that I do not agree with as well. Nonetheless, all things considered, Michele and I are purveyors of the same thing: truth. We wish for people to see truth for what it is: not a rose-garden, rather something one has to work for constantly to find. Michele does it her way, more overtly and outright using dissent. I do it mine, more covertly, attacking issues as a cancer one cell at a time. Interjecting each person I meet face to face with as much truth as I can in attempts to get them to see.

Different approaches can be viewed with many perspectives. Before you assume you're the last few left who see the truth, change your perspective and make sure you know who and what you're looking at.

Thank you so much for that. I have so many mixed feelings about today, but you summed it up rather nicely. Kudos to you. And no, I own not one flag, and I would like to keep it that way for now.