“Love it or leave it.” What a foolish quote. As is the tired “You hate America” retort, uttered at anyone who doubts a president’s sincerity. Who else is bored with these baseless smears? Their project—to squash dissent one citizen at a time—is rather transparent. Dissent equals treason. Question nothing (unless of course “you hate America”).
Suppose I don’t like that I can’t take my laptop to Canada without my government copying all its contents into its databases. If I complain about this in public, I’ll catch scowls from strangers, dirty looks galore. I can tell what they’re thinking, what they want to say to me:
“If you hate your country so much, why don’t you move to Uzbekistan?!”
Well, uh, because…
What the fuck does that have to do with anything?!
They boil people in Uzbekistan. I don’t want to live someplace where they boil people. I want to live here. Is their point that one should have to choose between domestic spying, and… being boiled!?
That sounds like a Nazi ultimatum, doesn’t it? Yet in many cases it’s the keynote counterpoint for the anti-civil liberties crowd. Love it or leave it; conform and comply. Such is the degenerated state of political dialog here in the freest country in the world.
If someone’s words offend you, why not attack the contents of what they actually said? Our freedoms are great and wonderful; we should be glad people still want to enjoy them. It should comfort all of us–even the gung-ho pro-war cowboys–that someone loves America enough to take an unpopular stand on its behalf. To say they need to move to Europe is pretty much the lamest, least intelligent response I can fathom. It’s the “Oh yeah? So is your mother!” of adult American political discourse.
Besides, that sort of bullying doesn’t work indefinitely. King George III discovered just that some 232 years ago, when fifty-six colonials signed a Declaration that sent the mother ship sailing home for good. The rich and powerful can manipulate “allegiance” for a little while with small-minded appeals to abstract “patriotic” ideals. But eventually the public realizes they’re being brainwashed, the shot-callers are hypocrites with double standards. When that epiphany finally happens, even our most impotent citizens will stand up for what’s right. Blind obedience is not a bottomless salsa bowl, soon there won’t be anymore free refills.
Or maybe I’m just being a “moran.”
If we Americans truly are the great and strong and proud peoples we proclaim to be, then ultimately we will—we must—start acting more like those founding fathers again, the men we celebrate (or say that we’re celebrating) on the 4th of July, and less like gutless cowards who stayed home in the Old World content with being persecuted. Even our most impotent citizens must eventually stand up for what’s right.
Some Americans, of course, truly don’t care about the country. But we can’t call them on it, as they’ve decorated themselves in jingoistic costumes. Most of them are psyched to celebrate Independence Day; but they hate it when you ask them to recognize what it stands for. Don’t mention the Founding Fathers to Bill O’Reilly, the Declaration of Independence to Rush Limbaugh, the U.S. Constitution to George W. Bush—they don’t want to hear about it. Phony patriotism may fly like vomit from their mouths, but patriotic principles are dead inside their cold hearts. They’d just as soon erase from the historical record all the tiny details of 1776 that don’t fit with their agendas in 2008.
Chris Satullo wrote a powerful column in the Philadelphia Enquirer, honoring the founding fathers and encouraging us as ordinary citizens to be more critical in our thinking; to speak out against atrocities perpetrated by the Republican and Democratic jokers we elected; to do more than simply wave our flags and watch the pretty fireworks explode. We’ve failed, collectively, to do our duty as citizens. And so, Satullo concludes, America doesn’t deserve to celebrate its birthday this year.
It was unrealistic to expect dumb people to read Satullo’s column and “get it.” As we learned during the Iraq WMD scam and throughout the Patriot ACT fiasco, ignorance screams louder than reason. Wherever there’s a logical voice, a band of dense polar-thinkers follows, to silence it, to bang war drums and take up the cause of uncritical thinking, spectatorship and thick naiveté. Bust out the fake patriotism!
Blog reactions to Satullo were harsh, if embarrassingly simple and laced with ignorance. The conventional “love it or leave it” litany spewed predictably from 3rd-tier pundit Michelle Malkin (whose 15 minutes of noteworthiness in life are now winding to a close), as well as from several other weird Right Wing bloggers, including Pam Geller and The Rude News–all of whom appear to think they’re Rush Limbaugh. And all appear not to have gotten the point, or not to have tried. The tunnel-visioned bloggers zipped over the whole part in Satullo’s column about the Constitution and inalienable human rights—neither of which seemed especially important to Malkin and the other Hate Junkies. Together with their uneducated readers, they sprayed Satullo with redundant middle school zingers and the usual slew of meaningless tags (“pussy”, “traitor”, “bin Laden”, etc.).
It really is fascinating to watch dumb people get all flustered when enlightened people make valid points. That they resort to flicking turds around the room is to be expected. What’s somewhat alarming though is to see just how profoundly and deeply the very act of turd-flicking resonates among dumb people, especially among this brand, unquestioning citizens who share a common blind spot.
Bloggers who blasted Satullo’s column found readers lining up to kiss their asses in the comments sections. One reader even told Geller she was a “special person”… for what?? Managing to fit the phrase “big pussy” in nearly every sentence of her incoherent rant? Whatever.
While platitudes and mutual back-patting were abundant among these hounds of angry thought-cops, any substantive attempt on their part to challenge Satullo’s main conclusion was tenuous at best. In fact, the more they typed, the more they proved Satullo’s depressing point: some Americans really do suck at being citizens.
The other comments basically went like this: One of the readers called the writer a “leftard” and a pussy and a traitor; another accused him of being communist terrorist who hated America; a third offered to help pack the U-Haul and drive Satullo to the airport (which I’m not sure technically made sense–do they allow U-Hauls on international flights?). After these generic sound bites had been regurgitated, new visitors to the blog had nothing really new to say. Some of them simply complimented other readers on their universal wit and brilliance. Others offered the lord’s blessings to anyone who hated Arabs and had voted for Bush both times.
And of course they all agreed to pray for the troops. That’s key–pray for them. And who says the bumper-sticker contingency never does anything concrete to “support the troops.” What could be more concrete than folding one’s hands and bowing one’s head and subliminally communicating one’s wishes, which may or may not be granted, to an all-powerful deity who may or may not be a figment of one’s imagination?
Great idea: pray for the troops. That, along with picking better presidents, just might qualify as “supporting” them.