Learning To Be An American
John Sununu’s comment that he wishes our president would “learn how to be an American” — and the subsequent “sorry” for it — have become an all too familiar refrain on the right. I’m reminded of Ed Kilgore’s 4th of July observations on America-Hating Patriots:
I’m as “American” in background, outlook, and life-experiences as anyone you’d meet. I belong to a distinctly American religious community, born on the Kentucky frontier long after Independence. I’m probably most at home among rednecks and African-Americans, whose cuisine and music I also tend to prefer. I’ve never lived anywhere else, or had any romantic idea that life was superior elsewhere. To my shame, and despite dabbling in many, I speak no languages other than English with any fluidity. I am passionate about college football, and God help me, still find soccer boring.
But I’m made a bit uncomfortable by displays of super-patriotism, because so many of our national symbols and traditions have been bent to divisive and destructive causes. Most recently, thanks to the influence of a movement that is self-saturated in the regalia and rhetoric of the American Revolution, we have seen the “Spirit of ‘76” incessantly deployed to suggest that roughly half of Americans are evil looters, and that indeed America has been ever-more-systematically betraying its heritage since the 1930s, or longer. …
Maybe progressives make a mistake in not calling out people…whose horror at having to share this country with the likes of me and you makes him by any standard un-patriotic, in the grips of a global ideology that is no more essentially “American” than fascism was essentially “Italian.”
I’m perfectly happy on this [4h of July] and any other day devoted to communal, civic celebrations to put aside differences and tip my hat (or a beer) to neighbors I know don’t agree with me on much of anything that makes up the daily bread of politics. But I’m no longer going to quietly accept lectures on patriotism from people who hate my country because they don’t rule it and my vote is equal to theirs.