Friday, April 01, 2005

I Love My Country

The following column appeared in the March 17, 2005 issure of The Cameron Herald:

A funny thing happened when the conservatives decided to take over the world, particularly the United States of America. Suddenly we could no longer agree to disagree. Either one agrees with the conservatives, or one is anti-American. There are plenty of examples in other countries of this same attitude. We call the perpetrator governments fascist and totalitarian; the victims are referred to as dissidents. Note that I did not say that the U.S. government is fascist or totalitarian.

I see numerous aspects about the government that I do not agree with. I also see that the government has grown to such leviathan proportions that changing its direction could take generations. Presumably, if the reports are to be believed, during the last 20 years, conservatives have engaged in just such a monumental effort and succeeded.

But my argument is not with the direction the country is taking, but rather with conservatives questioning my patriotism. I do not, as Ann Coulter would posit, dispute that someone has the right to question it. My argument is that my patriotism is beyond question.

I love my country. How do I prove that? I vote. I pay attention to the news so I can be informed about what the government is doing. I pay my taxes on ALL my income. I listen to different points of view. I understand the culture, the underlying motivations, and the historical currents that have combined to create the United States as the world knows it today. I contact my representatives in government (national, state, and local) about issues that I can discuss intelligently and let them know what I think they should do. I teach my children that it is a duty to vote as well as a right, and that it is their duty to inform themselves on the issues beforehand.

I place my hand over my heart when I recite the pledge of allegiance. I do not, however, remove my hat then or when the national anthem is played because I am a woman, not because I do not respect the institutions. Nevertheless, I do nothing to disrespect my country or its government.

I have been to Carpenter’s Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was written, and I have visited the Liberty Bell. I have traveled all over this country, and I keep my yard decent out of respect for my neighborhood. I have a copy of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution in a file in my desk. I refer to them regularly. I love my country.

I love my country enough to speak out when I think we have taken a wrong turn. Our country was founded on the principle of self-determination. That means that the people of this country have the right to determine their future political status. It means that our government is guilty of hypocrisy (and sometimes worse) when it attempts to force sovereign nations to adopt its form of government. I love my country enough to take the heat for saying so.

I question whether the representatives in Washington are listening to us, because they have been known to ignore their constituents before.

I love this country, but I have no illusions about it having an ideal or perfect government. Politics is by nature a game of getting and giving favors. One advances in proportion to one’s usefulness to others. The others, who have done favors for the rising politician, now have credit with him or her, and when it comes time, will cash in by asking for another favor. By the time one has risen to any power, he or she is beholden to myriad people, all of whom cash in on their favors on their schedule, not the politician’s.

This is reality, but it is not necessarily good for the people of the United States, who are by rights the ones who give politicians, indeed governments, power.
Considering the tone of political dialog today between the left and right, it might be important if every liberal could defend him- or herself against persons who accuse them of not loving this country.

I am perfectly capable of defending myself against charges of lacking patriotism. Are you?
© 2005

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About Me

I love my country, that is why I criticize its absurdities; I love my freedom, that is why I do it publicly.