Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From Erica: a brief rant

As the title of this post says, I'm going to be brief here. The basic background of my frustration, which is what prompts me to post here, is that my partner's father emailed me a series of posters from World War II, with a series of statements amounting to "Why aren't we patriotic, God-fearing, freedom-loving Americans anymore?" I answered, essentially, that we'd taken quite a dose of hypocrisy during and after the 1940s, what with the internment of Japanese Americans and Jim Crow, and had subsequently learned (in theory) not to blindly paint ourselves as the good guys in every conflict. In his answer, he told me that I learned to hate America by going to school in Canada, that my partner's grandfather fought for these freedoms that I took for granted, and that's what makes me a good liberal.

In list form, here's my outrage:
  • Every fifth grader in the United States is taught about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and every fifth grader is taught about Jim Crow laws and how they impacted African Americans. It's not like these are lies being spread by non-Americans to slander our good name. They happened. Their effects continue to be felt. I didn't need to go to Canada to learn about them. If he'd been paying attention in school, he would've learned these things too.
  • Having an ambivalent opinion about the United States, its history, and its potential doesn't mean I "hate" America. It means I'm honest, and not blinded by some patriotic dogma. I think it's given a lot of people a lot of things to be proud of, and I think it has the potential to do even better. But that doesn't mean that I will unthinkingly follow its every move with a zealot level of enthusiasm and approval. And honestly, I think that's the best way to do it, no matter whose side you're on. Unthinking or unconditional acceptance of any political group or belief system is a recipe for disaster.
  • My grandfather fought in WWII as well, and resigned in protest over the Vietnam War. This is something that, to a certain extent, I'm proud of his memory for- conscientious objections to war aside. Attempting to use someone's grandparents as a guilt mechanism is a pretty cheap tactic, and something for which I have no respect.
There we go. I've ranted, and I feel much better. See you soon for the kickoff of Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2009!

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