I don't dispute that; it is a remarkable place, in ways both good and bad. The same country that produced Thomas Jefferson also embraced slavery for several decades; the country that enacted ground-breaking civil rights laws a few decades ago still discriminates against a significant portion of its citizenry; it is a country of breathtaking beauty and one of urban decay; ours is one of the most prosperous countries in the world, and we still have people starving and going without medical care; the same country that gave us Barack Obama (and if you still think he's not an American citizen, please just go away...you bore me) also gave us Sarah Palin.
Yeah, it's a mixed bag all right.
I love my country. I am proud of our accomplishments, but realize that there is still much to be done. I don't believe we're perfect, and we have made mistakes. I believe it is important to take responsibility for that, and to apologize to those we have wronged. We are a young nation, and we are a work in progress.
So I resent the hell out of it when people like the aforementioned Sarah Palin say that I'm not patriotic because I find fault with some of the things that we've done, or dare to declare that perhaps we are fighting a war we shouldn't be. I may love my country, but that doesn't mean that I'm willing to goosestep in agreement with everything we do, or adopt that ultra-nationalistic jingoism of "my country right or wrong." What I find amusing is that what is truly most exceptional about America is what teabaggin' idiots like Palin, O'Donnell, and others would do away with first.
When Jefferson, Adams, and other framers of the Constitution began working on it, they were still witnessing the effects of religion upon governments. They had recently won independence from a country that had established a state religion. It was called the Church of England, for pete's sake. In a remarkable act of courage, rebellion, innovation, and vision, they broke from centuries of tradition and expressly forbade that our government would ever be capable of promoting any religion above another, forcing people to believe a certain way, or taking away their freedom to worship--or not worship--as they chose.
What an amazing and precious thing they gave us in their foresight to prohibit such a thing. All one has to do is look around the world at countries that operate as theocracies and see what is happening in their countries. Stonings for adultery; hangings for homosexuality; prison for those dissidents who would question the status quo and go against the state-sanctioned religion. Every time someone like Palin talks about how our Constitution and our laws are based on the ten commandments, or a Paladino talks about children being brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is a valid option, or Christine O'Donnell shows her unbelievable ignorance of this most basic tenet of our freedoms, they disrespect the framers of our Constitution and show their ignorance of just how amazing that document is.
We've seen some pretty astounding things in the past few months, but I think O'Donnell's ignorance of the First Amendment takes the cake. Naturally, her campaign is trying to spin it that she was saying expressly that the phrase "separation of church and state" is not in the First Amendment. I wish Chris Coons, her opponent (and the front runner, thank science), had been more forceful in saying that no, it is not, but the sentiment is there, it has been proven over and over again in the writings of Jefferson and others, and it has been upheld and strengthened throughout repeated court rulings. Her complete lack of comprehension of the deepest meaning of the First Amendment and its importance to our freedoms as individuals is absolutely mind-boggling to me. Anyone who wants us to get back to our "Christian roots" is also ignorant of the framers' intent and beliefs. I would remind them that if they get their wish and Christianity is declared a state-sanctioned religion, kids are led in prayer in school, Bible study classes are on the curriculum at every school in the country, and their religion is the law of the land...it can just as easily be taken away and replaced with a different religion at some point. Perhaps one day we'll have our first Jewish President, and he or she will declare that Judaism is the primary religion in the country, and it must be taught in our schools. I wonder how much they would like that? Or maybe one day, we'll have a Muslim President. (Let me state again that if you still think Obama is a Muslim, just go away. Seriously.)
For all their talk of protecting our freedoms and our liberty and the Constitution, they are certainly quick to subvert that document, and they seem eager to take away one of our most fundamental freedoms of all: that of religion. Apparently as long as it is done in the name of their own personal religion, they think it is just dandy. Jefferson and others did their best to protect us and our country from such demagogues. We need to make sure that we carry on their vision and not let our country or our freedoms be usurped by these people.
For Palin, O'Donnell, and all the others that just can't seem to wrap their simple little brains around the concept of it all, I have the same questions that they ask of anyone who wonders about our motives and our actions when we question things in our country: Why do you hate our founding fathers? Why do you hate America? YOU do not get to decide who is a patriot and who isn't. YOU do not get to tell me that I hate my country, or hate our troops. YOU do not get to dictate morality based on your religious beliefs. Your actions and ignorance show what I think is a deep-seated disrespect for the fundamental rights laid out centuries ago by those men who were the sort of deep thinkers and philosophers that you seem to ridicule as elitists today.