Archive for the ‘patriotism’ Category

irish_mckayAlthough she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.

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Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan (1987-2007), an American soldier. Colin Powell said it well:

Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That’s not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that [Obama] is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards – Purple Heart, Bronze Star – showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn’t have a Christian cross. It didn’t have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith.

And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life.

– Colin Powell

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White patriotism in America is different than black patriotism, but it is still patriotism.

White Americans love their country. They are quite willing to die for it. You see that in the war in Iraq, which has been fought without forcing anyone into the military. Even with all the blacks in the military, it would not have been possible unless whites loved their country too.

John McCain is a true patriot. Even though he is white, almost everything I said about black patriotism can be applied to him. He served his country in war, he has worked to make it better through public service and he knows that a true patriot does not turn a blind eye to the injustice in his country but stands up to it. He knows that patriotism is something deep, something more than merely liking one’s country.

Cindy McCain, his wife, on the other hand, was not a patriot when she said:

I have and always will be proud of my country.

Apparently that sort of blind pride in America is fairly widespread among white Americans, even those with good educations, because so few of them pointed out how utterly brainless and heartless her words were.

You see this same blind pride at work when people think that saying bad things about America means you must hate it, that you are not a true American.

This sort of blind pride is far more common among whites than blacks.

Blacks know all too well from their own experience that America is far from perfect, that injustice comes built in. Even blacks as successful and rich as Michelle Obama know it. You do not have to live in a ghetto to see it.

Many whites, on the other hand, live in an apple-pie America. Their own power and white privilege protects them from much of the bad that goes on in the world – much of it, in fact, done in their name to make their lives so nice and comfortable. But they do not see that.

They have been brought up to turn a blind eye to the injustice and suffering their lives are built on.

They do not understand that the ghettos are so screwed up because of them. They do not understand that the Middle East is so screwed up because of them. They do not understand that the Twin Towers are gone – because of them.

They do not see that. Because they do not want to.

Because they do not want to give up their Disney World lives. Yes, Disney World lives, because compared to most of the world that is what it is. Because it is not rooted in anything honest and true.

Cindy McCain was 53 years old when she said those words. Not 17 but 53. How in the world can someone live 53 years on this earth and not see the evil done in her name? It is far from being an accident.

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black patriotism

Black patriotism in America is different than white patriotism, but it is still patriotism. In fact it is much deeper and truer than the sort of white patriotism you see on television.

Patriotism means loving your country, it does not mean just liking it. Love is different than like. It runs much deeper.

Love is shown first and foremost by actions. No greater love can be shown for your country than to die for it. The very first man to die in America’s fight for freedom was Crispus Attucks, a black man who was killed during the Boston Massacre in 1770. Blacks have fought and died in every war since then. Not just as conscripts but willingly too. Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whom many feel is not a patriot but I believe he is, joined the Marines. The Marines.

Love is shown by working to make your country a better place. America is a much freer and better place because of the civil rights movement. America is a richer place because of all the work blacks have put into it, as both slaves and freemen – and because of what they have created, like jazz and hip hop.

Love is shown by seeing its faults with a clear eye, by seeing the country as it truly is and not as it is in storybooks or on television. Any country is going to have faults and crimes and dirty little secrets. America is hardly any different. To refuse to see that is not love but betrayal.

Love is also shown by having faith in its future, its promise. From Frederick Douglass to Martin Luther King, Jr to Barack Obama and millions of ordinary people, blacks have shown a profound faith in America’s promise.

By all these measures blacks love America. They have shown faith in it when there was no sensible reason to have faith. They have fought for it in wars only to come back home to riots or Jim Crow or no work, to be told in a thousand and one ways they are not as good as white Americans. Or even to be told they are not true Americans!

If blacks do not love America, no one does.

Whites seem to get hung up on two points:

First, some whites seem to think blacks should hate America because of what it has done to them. They have every right to, and a few do, but most do not. It is their country too. Their love is not a pure, childlike love, or the love a wife might feel for a husband who has always been true, but it is still love.

Second, some whites seem to think that to say anything bad about America means you must hate it, that you cannot love it. That is called like, not love. If that was how love works, marriage would become impossible. Prisoners would never be visited by girlfriends and family members. A true love of country is stronger and deeper than that.

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This is from “No Name in the Street” (1972) by James Baldwin. It seems as true to me now as the day when I first read it years ago:

White children, in the main, and whether they are rich or poor, grow up with a grasp of reality so feeble that they can very accurately be described as deluded – about themselves and about the world they live in. White people have managed to get through entire lifetimes in this euphoric state, but black people have not been so lucky: a black man who sees the world the way John Wayne, for example, sees it would not be an eccentric patriot, but a raving maniac. … People who cling to their delusions find it difficult, if not impossible, to learn anything worth learning: a people under the necessity of creating themselves must examine everything, and soak up learning the way the roots of a tree soak up water. As people still held in bondage must believe that “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make ye free”.

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I have and always will be proud of my country. – Cindy McCain

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For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.

When I heard Michelle Obama speak those words and saw how she said them, it blew my mind. It was just how I felt too! It was wonderful.

So many people in public life seem like car salesmen: they smile too much and they do not call a spade a spade. They do not say what is in their hearts, they do not say what they see with their own two eyes. Michelle Obama does. That makes her beautiful.

She is the only one in this stage show that we call the 2008 election who seems like someone I might know – or care to know. Despite all her money and despite all her education, she is down to earth and honest. She is the opposite of Hillary Clinton. And, as much as I like her husband, he is too busy trying to look like he belongs on Mount Rushmore. (Is there room?)

Later that day Cindy McCain said this:

I have and always will be proud of my country.

Well, duh: she is rich and white. She does not know the half of what goes on in America – or what is done in its name overseas. Her words show it. Has anyone told her about Abu Ghraib? Or Katrina? Is she proud of that? And how would she feel about America if she had to give up her money and her white skin? Or if she had to live as an Arab in the West Bank? Would she still be able to say all ten words about America? Not just proud, but always proud?

People jump on Michelle Obama, but she is just saying what anyone would say who has a brain that is turned on, eyes that are open and a mouth set to honest. Well, at least any black person with an Ivy League education who grew up in a place like the South Side of Chicago. And plenty of other people too. I do not think Michelle and I are alone on this one.

But what about the fall of communism? What about her own rise from low beginnings? I doubt she was thinking about those things when she said it: she was talking about the country not about herself or the world.

Does Michelle Obama love her country? Of course she does. Only someone who loves America would talk about it like that. My wife, for example, is not always proud of what I do and when I screw up she tells me straight out. Does that mean she does not love me? To the contrary.

But why should a woman who has so much be so bitter, as they say? Because she is honest. Because sees with her own two eyes. Because she cares.

Some may call her angry or bitter, but to me she is beautiful. Just the way she is.

– Abagond, 2008.

Update (2019): Unfortunately this was like the last honest thing she said. Both she and Barack Obama sold out. 

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