Monday, July 04, 2005

It's America's birthday, but I got the presents

So this is my big Fourth of July post, as promised.

Now, look, I was just watching "Team America: World Police" the other day - and laughing my ass off, I might add - and one of the songs in the movie literally has the lyrics, "America, Fuck Yeah!"

(What do you expect from the guys who brought you "South Park"?)

Now, I'm not one of those kind of patriots, my-country-right-or-wrong. But I've got to say, in a way, I'm pretty close, for better or for worse. Honestly, I hate extremists on both sides of the political/religious/whatever spectrum, but the one place I think I've got a certain sense of extremism is patriotism.

Well, that, and Raiders football.

Anyway, today's a day for celebrating America, but I'm sure there's people out there somewhere bitching and moaning about all the things about America that suck. Aside from the fact that this is a mean thing to say about someone on their birthday, it's something I just can't agree with.

(For those of you just joining, and cringing at my use of "someone" with "their" as far as number and agreement goes, it's my standard policy to be writing free-flowing stream-of-consciousness, with no or minimal editing.)

Yes, America is flawed. And yes, I've been to other countries and many are quite nice. In fact, all but two of the countries I've been to were quite nice.

Among the not-so-nice, one is France. What can I say? It's a long story, fit for another post.

The other is Vietnam. And I don't even remember being there.

Look, for the record, I don't wrap myself in the flag. I don't like the Bush administration. (What can I say? I like America for its diversity. He wants everyone to be just like him. Didn't work out so well for my people when the Germans tried it back in the "Extreme Race Makeover" days.) I support our troops but oppose the war, or at least the way it's being fought. I think Bush's Supreme Court picks will cause problems for my children and my children's children, and I don't think we can torture terrorists enough. Pro-choice, pro-death penalty, pro-gun control. I'm not exactly a bleeding-heart liberal, but my conservative friends think so.

And these days, there's been a lot of talk about bashing America (the Ground Zero 9/11 memorial debate) and thus a lot of counter-talk of the love-it-or-leave-it kind. And I really can't say I like either. Normally, I'm a free speech, free press, free love kind of guy. And I certainly don't like the idea that questioning the government and its actions makes you unpatriotic. But I do get tired of people saying how much America sucks. Hey, if you're one of 'em, you're entitled to your opinion. (But you know what they say, opinions are like assholes - everybody has one, and nobody cares about anyone else's.)

But if it sucks that bad, leave. There's people trying to swim here that'll take your place in the subdivision in a heartbeat. There's a reason idiots like the Minutemen have a job - it's because there's a whole lot of people who want to come here. We must be doing something right. Or at least something as good as it gets, as good as we can do it. Face it, unless you're a Native American (I hate being PC, but if I say "Indian," it'll just get confusing and open a whole different debate, the kind that ends with guns and horses and casinos), somebody in your family hauled his or her ass here from someplace else, probably risking life and limb to do so.

I hated moving two towns over. I can't imagine why anybody would move someplace they think sucks.

But hey, if you think the grass is greener somewhere else, by all means, go. And good luck. But before you go, stop and think a minute. What will you get wherever it is you're going?

Maybe in my case, it's a very specific example of opportunity. But the point is, America, at least for me, is truly the Land of Opportunity.

In America, I can be whatever I want, except president or vice president (and just wait for the Schwarzenegger Amendment. I'm running, baby!).

And if there's one thing I know about Vietnam, it's that I never would have been anything there.

We're having a debate on the HorrorTalk forum today about America, and in the interests of winning the argument there, I sort of shot my wad as far as this post goes. So, although I really hate quoting myself, I'm just going to take a moment to repost what I wrote there, in response to somebody complaining that America sucks:

"...I could be living in poverty in a Third World nation right now, but instead [I have a really great job, and tonight] I'm calling a girl on my cell phone then getting in my sports car to go on a date, before which I'm going to stop for gas I don't even have to pump myself (see FM's blog), and after which I'm going to drive back to the house I actually own part of.

All because an American program took me out of an orphanage in that Third World nation and brought me to America, where it may suck when you get a ticket and didn't bother to play by the MVC rules, but which, in my humble opinion, generally beats living hand-to-mouth as a laborer or taxi driver or something in a Third World communist country, where I'd have to deal every day with being a multi-racial person in a racist society, assuming, of course, I survived the various medical problems I had in infancy that were cured easily with a couple of shots and some antibiotics within days after my arrival here.

Hey, I've been lucky in life, or blessed, depending on what you believe in. I'll be the first to admit it. And Flint sure does sound like it sucks. But I'd rather spend the rest of my life in my podunk, boring, white trash, dying, redneck, poor little hometown here in flawed, f'ed-up, fabulous America than spend a weekend trying to make a living in Vietnam, that's for damn sure."


(EDITOR'S NOTE: Pardon the edits; I told you I'm not going to talk about work in this blog. Yes, I'm afraid of getting in trouble, and yes, that's probably censorship, which is very un-American. This is one of life's little ironies.)

Look, I'm not perfect. I'm every bit as flawed as our country, and more. But the thing is, I love America. I love America because for whatever bad things it may have done to me (fast food, Captain Morgan, exfoliating body cleanser, Michelle), they are more than offset by the wonderful things it's done for me, starting with my family and friends, people I am honored and privileged to know.

I'd like to think my journalism job, informing the public, in some small way returns the favor.

I was thinking that later tonight, I'm going to try to find me some fireworks. But the Fourth of July isn't about fireworks and barbecue any more than the way Christmas is about trees and fat guys in red suits.

To me, the Fourth of July is about celebrating America, which for all its flaws is still the country where so many people want to live, where so many people are grateful they live, and where so many forget so often how good they have it.

Today, of all the days, let's not forget.

This is a country where a random guy like me is able to write whatever he damn well pleases in his random blog. "America, Fuck Yeah!" indeed.

So happy birthday to the greatest nation on Earth, whatever her flaws. God bless all of you who do her proud, from soldiers and police to doctors and journalists to bloggers and the guy wearing that American flag T-shirt.

And for those of you who hate her even as you revel in her privileges, as they say in the "Dawn of the Dead" remake, here's a nice, tall glass of Shut-The-Fuck-Up. America's a democracy, but this blog's a dictatorship.

Links:
"Team America: World Police" - puppets, but not for the kiddies!
HorrorTalk - join the forum and join the debate
FreakMagnet's blog, so you can get the reference to gas-pumping
Captain Morgan spiced rum, one of the things that may or may not make America great
The Minutemen, walking proof you can be as ridiculous as you want in America
"Dawn of the Dead," the remake - it's better than you think

And I'm not mentioning a zombie movie without touting the godfather of all things zombie, George A. Romero. Go see "Land of the Dead." It was filmed in Canada, but it pretends to be Pittsburgh.

3 Comments:

Merovingienne said...

Ok.

There was some in this post that I agreeed with, some that I didn't. I wasn't going to throw my 2 pennies in, however, until I ran into this comment:

Unless you're a Native American...somebody in your family hauled his or her ass here from someplace else, probably risking life and limb to do so.

If only you had qualified that a little bit more.

The somebodies in my family didn't haul ass here; they were happy to stay where they were, but unfortunately they were forced to come here and face dehumanizing conditions, and to be whipped and beaten and raped...you see where I'm going with this. So, by your rationale, I have license to bitch about the US.

That said, yes, America is flawed. And I reserve the right to call it flawed 365 days of the week. It's better, but there are still a lot of problems, and if people don't bitch about them, then nothing will change.

I appreciate what it is to be an American, probably more than most Americans do, because I know what it feels like to be a foreigner. I lived outside of the USA, and nothing will bring out all of the cultural biases that you didn't even know you had until you have lived abroad.

I didn't and don't spend the 4th bitching about America. It's not the perfect country, but it's MY country, and I don't have to leave it if I don't love it 100%

Ace said...

Cool! A new quasi-fan! Or at least another quasi-reader...

You raise a good point about the African-Americans (and so on). I overlooked them, and I apologize if I've offended any. I was thinking more of those people who tell others they're not American and they ought to go "back where they come from."

And hey, I didn't say leave if you don't love America 100%, in fact, I disagree with that viewpoint entirely. I said leave if you think it sucks so bad that you hate it.

Merovingienne said...

Ok.

Apology accepted. :D

Most of my reply was a reaction to that part of the post. But what can I say? Anything! That's the beauty of freedom of speech!

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