The land of the free and the home of the brave is certainly a fitting descriptor for America. Every individual in this country is fiercely proud of the freedoms and rights the Constitution guarantees—some freedoms and rights more than others.
American patriotism is unparalleled; from donning all red, white and blue attire on the Fourth of July, to “support our troops” bumper stickers, few countries are as patriotic as the United States.
As a foreigner, I admit that I am quite envious of the strong sense of pride and identity Americans have. As a “third-culture kid,” (raised in a culture other than my parents’), I wish I had that sense of pride or strong association with a country. This is certainly a big part of what makes the United States such an appealing destination for many immigrants.
Patriotism is an admirable quality, and who can deny that it’s heartwarming to see videos of soldiers returning to their families after tours of duty abroad?
Love for your country and culture is certainly not a bad thing, but what’s detrimental is the sort of juvenile, almost childish arrogance and blind support for your country that is often mistaken as patriotism.
A few months ago, news of a militia, led by Ammon Bundy occupying a federal building in Oregon, sparked a conversation about “patriots.” These wannabe tough guys with martyr complexes who liken themselves to the founding fathers, and who are being oh-so-cruelly persecuted by the liberals who want to take their guns away and make America socialist, are not some disparate group of individuals.
These people represent a bigger problem, not just in America, but in every country in the world that encourages hero worship of the military and a blind support for everything they do. Supporting the troops is great, but glorifying war by sporting shirts that say “back-to-back world war champs,” or waving the Confederate flag and saying things like “the South will rise again,” is highly insensitive and hurtful to the memory of those who fell during those wars.
This juvenile band of patriotism, or as I like to call it, “Redneck patriotism,” is a symptom of anti-intellectualism in America. Demagogues like Donald Trump understand the power of ignorant people in large numbers. These overtly patriotic zealots tend to be climate change deniers, anti-immigrant and anti-science. These anti-intellectuals become pawns in the political game played in this country and in the entire world—a game that affects billions.
I invite my fellow Jackrabbits to understand the difference between loving your country and having blind, almost fratboy-like enthusiasm for it. Respect the country you live in but never stop asking tough questions.
Blind faith hinders progress.
People can make real strides when they ask the right questions without fear of being labeled “unpatriotic.”
Abdel Mo is an operations management major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]