July 4th Thoughts from a Patriotic Nerd

Image: head and shoulders of Bald Eagle with head cocked to the left staring into the camera.

Photo credit: American Bird Conservancy http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/botw/bald_eagle.html

  • The US is an amazing country.  I love being an American for the reasons I toss out here and many more.
  • The primary reason the US is an amazing country is that we have written into our constitution and laws  — and our deepest sense of who we are  —  the ability to continue to make this a better country.  The things that make us great scientists, entrepreneurs, innovators, dreamers, and kickstarters make us a great country:  we are constantly trying to figure out better ways to organize and govern ourselves.
  • And along the way, we are completely free to tell one another — and the government — how completely wrongheaded everyone else’s ideas are.
  • Our history is just as full of triumphs, failures, good, evil, brilliance, stupidity, compassionate people, and flaming assholes as you’d expect when a group of humans gets together to try to accomplish something.  The same people who wrote the Declaration owned slaves.  While we were being a beacon to a world of refugees and immigrants, we were discriminating against them in housing and employment.  And our European foreparents — along with the rest of the white First World — did deplorable things to the people who were already in the countries we decided to make our own a couple hundred years ago.
  • But one of the things I love the most is that we can say these things.  We can point out that the Constitution itself was flawed from the start and that we had to fight a war to fix that.  And that we are continuing to try — in fits and starts — to be fairer to all Americans.
  • The statement “America is the greatest country” and other forms of American exceptionalism don’t make any sense to me.  It’s the greatest country for me and evidently for millions of others who both live here and want to live here.  But for us to tell a world full of people that it’s a greater country than their respective countries seems like a fairly incoherent overgeneralization.
  • Same with knee-jerk American denigration.  What are you denigrating?  Our government?  Which part?  The part of the DOJ that’s justifying solitary confinement?   Or the part that’s figuring out how to ensure that we can all vote, marry, shop, and hold  jobs without discrimination?  Republicans?  Democrats?  Us?  Me?
  • Ultimately, as Dr. King said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  When I’m disappointed in a Supreme Court decision — as I have been fairly often recently — I remember that it took us 58 years to go from  Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education but only 17 years to go from Bowers v. Hardwick to Lawrence v. Texas, and just another ten to United States v. Windsor.  For every

Image:  Protesters (a white male adult and possibly light-skinned black child) holding signs that say "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "Sin and Shame not Pride" and "You're Going to Hell."

there’s a

A woman dressed as an angel with large wings covered with white sheets standing next to others dressed similarly.

or even more important

Image:  Protesters holding signs reading "Homo Sex is Sin."  They are behind a police line. In the foreground, a white man dressed as Jesus Christ holds a sign saying "I'm not with these guys."  Another counterprotester holds a sign pointing to one of the protesters that says, "Secretly Gay."


Image:  Protester holding a sign that reads "God Hates Fags."  To his right, another protester holds a sign with an arrow pointing to the first guy and the words "Fuck This Guy."


Image:  An older white man wears a t-shirt that reads "You Deserve Hell."  Next to him, a younger white man holds a sign that reads, "You can't choose to like dick but you can choose to be one.  For example" and an arrow pointing to the guy in the You Deserve Hell t-shirt.

showing that Americans and our sense of humor will always prevail.

So Happy Random Patriotic Rambling Day from ThoughtSnax!




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