Saturday, July 3, 2010

This is my country, too

As we head into the July 4th holiday, I’m feeling a little feisty.

::sigh:: I know, I know. I just can’t help it.

I was just in a Facebook discussion that arose when a friend posted something about Richard Hofstadter’s 1963 essay about right wing conspiracy theories and paranoia. I’ve written about it before, and if you’ve never read it, I highly recommend it. It’s eerie in its application to what is happening in our country today.

I simply left a comment stating that I love that essay, and someone else commented that Hofstadter was a Communist and hated capitalism, and if I thought that was great, maybe I should move to Russia or China. They wrote that our government is “the people for the people.”

Yeah, it was on. I’ll post my reply here, with slight editing. I’m sick of some people saying that because I’m liberal, I don’t love my country, or I don’t support our troops, or I’m not a true American. First of all, I’d sure love to know what constitutes a true American. Apparently some think that it entails wanting to kick the ass of every country on the rest of the planet, just to show that we can. True leadership—and I still believe that America is a global leader—comes through diplomacy and friendship and a genuine desire to help others and make things better for all. Simply dropping a bomb on someone is not a sign of strength; it is a sign of weakness and bullying. Some seem to feel that a “real American” lives in rural areas, perhaps in the Midwest. I’m guessing that every New Yorker who witnessed the death and destruction on 9/11 would take exception to that definition.

Anyway, here is what I wrote.

Hofstadter's personal beliefs and ideologies have nothing to do with the validity of his essay about the far right and their paranoid behavior. It was valid when he wrote it; it's every bit as valid today.

It continues to amaze me to hear people say that their freedoms are being taken away by this liberal government. Where were you when Bush was tapping your phones? Where were you when he and his cronies advocated throwing people in jail without charging them for any crimes? Where were you when they gave the green light to TORTURE, ignoring the Geneva Convention in order to satisfy their hair-trigger, cowboy, jingoist, sadistic wet dreams?

Why weren't you up in arms when THOSE freedoms were being taken away? And I'd really like to know which, exactly, freedoms you feel are being taken away by this administration.
Just like every other American, I've been affected by taxes, health care, the military, student loans, and housing. I've seen the devastation wrought by an incompetent administration's tax cuts, unjustified wars, and an unwillingness to fix our broken health care system. I've had family members, senior citizens, have to declare bankruptcy because of catastrophic illness and huge medical bills. I've seen our national deficit go through the roof because of the previous administration's wars without the taxes to finance them. I watched as our economy came close to collapsing because of the GOP's lack of regulation on Wall Street, and I watched as the unfettered greed of bankers and mortgage companies took our country to the brink of economic destruction.

"The people for the people?" Are you prepared to pick up the tab for infrastructure maintenance and construction? Do you have a neighborhood group that has potluck dinners once a month so that you can plan how you'll fight the fires that strike one of your neighbors' homes, or YOUR home? Do you like your public library? When you retire, are you planning on opting out of Social Security and Medicare? Are you prepared to foot the bill for your parent's nursing home bills and medical bills? Do you have bake sales where you raise $500 to help pay for the kid next door with leukemia's hospital bills, which are approaching three hundred grand?

I am sick unto death of people talking about the evils of our government. It is OUR government, it helps us stay healthy, it helps with our education, and it helps us with our day-to-day lives.

If YOU hate our government so much, I suggest that you take a slow boat to any country that oppresses its people, restricts their speech, dictates their religion, and requires women to be punished for not being virgins on their wedding day or forces them to bear a child that resulted from rape. Just go enjoy that for a while, and then tell me about how much you hate our liberal government.

Fuck yeah.


  1. We live in a spoiled nation that has forgotten what sacrifice means.

  2. It sounds like people do an awful lot of arguing and/or name-calling on Facebook. What's up with that??


  3. Oh Beth, you are so right on with this one. It is amazing how the right wing can twist every decent thought and idea that liberals have and convert it into some subversive plot to try to take something away from "honest Americans" or "the American people". But what they really mean when they say those things are that they are afraid that some other "unAmerican" type (read, any member of any group of people who are not white, of European decent, or Christian) might also get to enjoy those freedoms. The only difference between liberal and conservative, it would seem, is who gets to enjoy those freedoms. Liberals want everyone to benefit. Conservatives want only white Christian (normally males) to be the only ones who enjoy them.
    Happy Fourth of July to everyone! We ALL pay taxes, and have family members die in wars, and love (at least like/respect) our country, and are concerned about our future, so we should ALL be able to benefit from whatever freedoms we have.

  4. Hi Beth,
    Right you are ... or left, as the case may be. I guess the point is, we're supposed to be a country where you can be either right, left or anything in between and still be as American as they come. Happy Fourth!

  5. Go Beth!

    You know what has bothering me over the last few days on Facebook? People posting the Pledge of Allegiance and highlighting the words "under God." And then complaining about how it is no longer required in schools.

    First of all, as I know you know, the words "under God" were added in the 1950s. I guess these folks didn't get that memo.

    Secondly, there are numerous reasons why someone might not say the pledge. If I am not mistaken, saying the pledge is against the religious beliefs of some people like the Amish. Or there are people like me who stopped saying the pledge earlier in life. At age 13 I stopped believing in the words "liberty and justice for all." Oh I believe they exist as an abstract concept in this country, just not in reality. If my belief that our legal system is not fair and just, then I am more than willing to be called un-American since the un-Americans in my opinion are those who don't recognize that this country was founded on the idea of the dissenting voice -- and not religion.

  6. this kind of activity reminds me of when i was a teenager and going to shows and watching kids beat the shit out of other kids because some kids didn't consider the other kids 'straight-edge' enough or 'hardcore' enough to be at that particular show hanging out. this was a BIG factor in my not going to shows for a bit because it's bullshit playground politics where bullying replaces common sense.

    i see those on the right in a similar way. they are constantly trying to out-patriot each other and will stop at nothing to be the one considered 'king patriot' in their scene. however, their overzealousness leaves behind the whole point of being for 'america for the good of all who exist here' because it seems to be like what stan said, meaning 'only for white, christian republican america that looks and acts like me'.

    i think their movement also tends to oversimplify things, which makes it easier for them to spread their rhetoric of hate and prejudice- they misinterpret the grey and try to paint everything in a 'right or wrong' or 'right vs left' manner which in life we all know is not possible- nothing can be ALL right or ALL wrong because there are as many in-betweens as their are opinions.

    there are two things i know for certain. one, i'll never be king patriot and two i'll go into my classroom tomorrow and still know that their are two americas and the flag hanging there doesn't truly deliver the promise of 'liberty and justice for all'.


  7. Great post, Beth. I like feisty! Everything you say is true, and this is the perfect day to remind people of where we are and how we got here--and, more important--what we need to do to have a true Independence Day.

    I'm going to Tweet this. Way to go!

  8. Dear Feisty One, I believe in America, I believe that good people can clean up the muck left by bad government, elect good government and pitch in to help make the country a better place for everyone, including conservatives. But why is it such a fight? The right calls us names and tells us we're wrong but they don't offer any sound historical reasons for thier opinions because there aren't any.


  9. Absolutely fabulous response, Beth!

  10. Great reply. When I was online more often people like that would consume too much of my time(well, intermittently), which is why I am not online so much now. ~Mary

  11. I hate that I missed this in time to set off a Roman Candle of celebration in your name!

  12. :) I love feisty Beth!

    Your detractor shows their ignorance in their second statement. Russia and China are no more communist nations, than the United States is a democracy. If they really want to make a comment worth reading, perhaps they should stop reading propaganda and take a civics and a history class to bring them up to speed.


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