Monday, October 27, 2008

John Stewart: "F*ck All Y'All!"

“We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. or New York City.”

Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin explained this belief of hers during a campaign rally in Northern Carolina last week.

"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit… …what I call the real America… …hard working very patriotic, pro-American areas of this great nation.”

For the crowd in NC, that was the cue for uproarious applause. Not so further north, where New York city resident and host of the satirical Daily Show responded with two words for Sarah Palin (on behalf of all of New York City.)

“Fuck you!”

New Yorkers were gratified that somebody was sticking up for their city – the de facto capital of the United States and as pro-American a place as anywhere in America. But some critics attacked John Stewart’s profanity, forcing him to clarify:

“…it's not really fair, and it makes it seem like I'm just addressing Governor Palin about this, and I'm not. Just this whole entire theme that there are more American areas of the country, or some people love the country, some people don't.”

To sum up: “What I meant to say is, 'Fuck all y'all.'”

Although John Stewart’s comments are pretty polarizing, he managed to hit the nail right on the head when it comes to the thrust of the Republican campaign for the presidency – following the model which won them the election in 2000 and 2004.

Basically, by spreading the lie that conservatives and evangelicals in the red states (the ones who vote Republican) are somehow ‘better Americans’ than the egg heads, intellectuals and liberals in the blue states (the ones that tend to vote Democrat.)

I’m with John Stewart on this strategy. It’s divisive bullshit and it stinks.

The fact is, you can be anti-gun, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and a life-long Democrat and still be a damn site better American than a tobacco-chewing, gun-loving Southern Baptist who has an American flag painted on his truck.

This whole idea of ‘if y’ain’t with us, yer against us’ and the insistence that ‘votin’ Republican is votin’ Patriotic’ is just offensive doublespeak intended to split the country in half and make dumb people vote on their gut instinct rather than on the issues.

This rancid attitude is everywhere. On SIRIUS radio, the right-wing talk radio station is called ‘SIRIUS Patriot’ (whereas the left-wing one has the limp title ‘SIRIUS Left.’) On TV and the radio, the right-wing pundits pound each other on the back and praise their rabid right-wing callers with ‘you’re a great American, sir.

Somehow, lapel-pins, bumper stickers, American flags and ‘support the troops’ stickers have become the currency for patriotism, whereas the truth is the complete opposite of that.

You can have all the bumper stickers in the world, but it doesn’t make you a good American.

Patriotism is not falling into line with the rest of the pack. It’s not blind obedience to a government. It’s not the belief that your religion somehow makes you morally superior and worthy of dictating how others can live their life.

In fact, it’s fighting against all of the above. As famous historian Howard Zinn once wrote: "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

It’s time the liberals retook the term ‘patriot.’ Because what’s more patriotic than what they do?

  • Thousands of Americans are dying in a bloody war overseas. Is it more ‘American’ to send more troops to that meat-grinder? Or angrily protest the war and attempt to ensure that as few brave American soldiers as possible end their lives, alone, on foreign sand?
  • What’s more ‘American?’ To enforce your religious beliefs in schools and dictate to your offspring what they can and can’t believe? Or to fight to keep religion out of the classroom and stand up for parents to take responsibility for their children’s spiritual growth - in the privacy of their own homes or churches?
  • What’s more patriotic? To bitterly attack other American’s inalienable rights to pursue ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ because it upsets your religious sensibilities, or to fight to give other Americans the same rights and protections that all citizens should enjoy, under the ethos that ‘all men are created equal.’
  • Why is it unpatriotic to question the 2nd Amendment, because the Constitution is sacred, yet ‘patriotic’ for people like Sarah Palin to support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage? How can patriots fight to support one freedom at the same time they fight to deny another? Why is the constitution sacred one moment, yet open to changes the next?
The American Nation was forged in the fires of rebellion and dissent – by brave men who refused to knuckle under the tyranny of an oppressive government. Contrary to popular belief, that rebellion continues to this day and it’s not the right-wing who represent the ‘patriots.’

The right-wing have come to represent the oppressive, religiously-driven regime that fights to dictate the scope of free men’s rights.

That’s not very American at all.

Don't get me wrong, the liberals can be just as bad. Gun control, redistribution of wealth... Many Democratic policies (especially the fiscal ones) are are repressive as the conservative ones.

So to help liberally minded people keep fighting the good fight - and to ensure they don't follow the right-wing down the dark path - here is my 'Patriot's Manifesto.'

The Patriot's Manifesto:
  1. A true patriot never supports any move to repress freedom, and attacks any move to censor, repress, ban, control or outlaw any existing freedom (from gun-control to hard-core pornography.) Repression is slavery.

  2. A true patriot constantly questions his government's decisions on the local, state and federal level, from tax rates and tariffs right up to military action overseas. Blind obedience is slavery.

  3. A true patriot never allows religion, ideology or dogma to enter into any part of government - from religion in school to socialism in government. Dogma is slavery.

  4. That being said, a true patriot never infringes the rights of an American to believe what they want in the privacy of their own homes, temples, churches or mosques. It's freedom 'of' religion, not freedom 'from' religion.

  5. A true patriot never infringes the rights of another American if they don't infringe on their own - from gay marriage to what color your neighbour paints his house.

  6. A true patriot questions all established theories - but from a position of logic, rationality and fact. It's fine to question Global Warming or Evolution - but not if your only source of information is The Bible or what you heard on The Bill O'Reilly Show (see Rule #8)

  7. A true patriot supports independence in all things - from personally freeing yourself from credit-card and bank debt, to making America totally energy independent. Reliance is slavery.

  8. A true patriot worships knowledge, rationality and fact - and strives to learn and teach as much as possible. Knowledge isn't just power. It's freedom. Parents have a duty to make sure that their children know more than they do - and things like 'non-explicit' sex education and teaching religious doctrine instead of scientific fact in school go against that. Ignorance is slavery.
I will admit, I'm no perfect patriot. I walk a fine line on some of the issues I've mentioned above (especially when they concern religion.) But overall, I think the philosophies above are the foundation of true patriotism and you'll find as much of that in New York and Boston as you will in a million Podunk towns across the Midwest.

Sarah Palin? Newsflash. Patriotism isn't dictated by geography OR politics.

5 comments:

Sasha Sappho said...

Roland,

I always so enjoy reading your blog (even though I don't always comment) as it serves as my daily dose of intellectualism and American socio-political theory. (And no, the irony isn't lost on me that I'm getting that from you, while I'm on your native end of the world across the pond.) But this was truly moving. I'm sure that sounds cheesy, but really. This just... made so much sense. I'm not sure why such logic isn't more popular in the States. I think if it were, we would be a stronger, smarter, more ethical and all-around better country. And I'd imagine the rest of the world might agree with us on that.

Sasha Sappho said...

And one more comment. In case you weren't sure, I lessthanthree your blog. Why? Well, see for yourself.

:)

Coffee Bean said...

She said, "not all in Washington D.C. and New York," leaving room for some of the best to be there as well. However, I can see where some would have been offended by what she was saying.

The Chemist said...

I like that picture you used of the guy in the flag tshirt giving the finger.

Speaking of fingers here's a rule of thumb:

If after taking away all patriotic symbols and rhetoric, any reasonable person would call you a dick, then you're still a dick with all those things included.

That dude in the picture looks like someone I wouldn't share a coke/beer/arsenic with.

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