I love America. But am I “pro-American?” Until recently, I had no idea my “pro-hood” was in question. Now I have the McCain-Palin campaign suggesting I don’t live in “real” America or that some parts of America are more “heartland-like” or “patriotic” than where I live.
Knock it off. It’s not right. The American people are not running against each other for office, and how dare that campaign — or any politician — try to pit us against each other in this way. Pro-American, what a crock!
There is no “real” America. “Main Street Wasilla” is no more “real” that the Castro District of San Francisco. That’s because what’s “real” America comes down to what your view of America is.
In my “real” America, for instance, people are free to disagree with what the government does without fear that they are labeled anti-patriotic. You can be against a war without being an America-hater. In fact, you could be even more American by speaking out your opposition, by exercising your right to free speech, your right as a citizen to try and influence what your government does, rather than having it dictate things to you.
Mark Twain is someone who I think many “pro-Americans” would consider to be a poster child of “real” America. Yet he was opposed to the Philippine-American war and wrote the War Prayer, in part, against it. Would he be considered anti-American today by those blazing the “pro-America” trail?
People have their own views of America, what it is, what it should be, what it should become. Not everyone will agree on those views. But for over 200 years, we’ve built a country despite our differences. Indeed, our differences — our diversity — is among one of our chief natural resources, something that gives us strength. Facing the always unknown future, we’re not a one-trick pony, a homogenous culture that suddenly finds itself obsolete. Our melting pot, our salad bowl, protects us.
I was already riled about this after catching up on some Daily Show viewing last night, where I heard about “real” Virginia that the McCain campaign will vote for it:
That clip also gets into some of the latest from Sarah Palin and her “real” America talk. From talk in one place:
We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.
After she says this, the clip cuts to John Stewart, who just sighs while the audience boos. And no wonder. The “best” of America is only in small towns? The best of America can’t be found everywhere in America?
I know it’s a campaign. I know that she’s catering to an audience. But to exclude so many people when it’s so easy to not ostracize others? How about “among the best of America is in small towns” or “our small towns are huge resources of strength or our nation” or something that doesn’t make those who aren’t in small towns have to think she’s talking shit about them.
Unless, of course, she is talking shit about them.
Stewart does a much better job taking this apart, with humor but some real pain when talking about those in the “fake” American city of New York who were killed in 9/11 attacks.
Today at lunch, I watched McCain give a similar speech in Pennsylvania, talking about how they are the most patriotic there, making a comparison to San Francisco fund raisers. Nudge, nudge — those West Coast liberals, they’re not real Americans.
I am a real America, Senator McCain. And if you were by some chance elected to be my president, I’d expect you to represent me — and respect me — as much as any other American regardless of where I live or if I disagree with you on some political issues. And if you were president, I would never — ever — expect you to question my patriotism to my country or suggest that patriotism is some type of known quantity that can be measured and weighed up and used to compare “good” citizens to “bad” ones.
Let me add, it’s the McCain campaign where I’ve heard this most, this talk of places being more patriotic than others. It’s not on if the Obama campaign is doing the same.
Postscript: Palin has since apologized, saying she didn’t mean to suggest some places were less patriotic or American in America than others. Of course, this is the same day McCain made the same remarks elsewhere. So, we’ll see.