Saturday, July 04, 2009

I Am A Goddess-Damn Patriot

Gus has up a typically thoughtful post about patriotism. The right wing has worked v hard for over thirty years to claim patriotism as their own and to brand liberals as unpatriotic.

Well, fuck that shit.

Born deep in America's heartland in the middle of the baby boom, I grew up loving the ideals espoused in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I grew up on stories of how my dad walked, to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance, out of his graduation from Boulder High School and into the recruiting office in the middle of World War II. I grew up on stories of how the GI Bill, passed to thank a generation of young people who defended Hawaii and Europe, changed my family's life, making my dad the first person in his family of transplanted Cockneys to ever graduate from college. I grew up on stories of how union members exercised their rights to peacefully assemble in order to obtain better wages, rights, and working conditions. I grew up in the middle of the Civil Rights movement and on stories of my dad, the journalist, attending Dr. King's speeches and then -- sadly -- funeral. I grew up in the middle of the protests against Viet Nam, the protests against the "Establishment," the protests for women's rights. And I never once doubted that the Constitution, the spirit of America, Lady Liberty, was on our side.

The more that I learned about American history, although I was ashamed at the dark chapters and appalled at the discrimination against women and others, the more I agreed with Dr. King that the arc of American history, like the arc of “the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” At least, I knew that it could, if I put my back to the wheel and pushed, and that's what I've tried to do, ever since I was a pre-teen, demonstrating against the war in Viet Nam.

American democracy can't, as Abby Hoffman noted, be measured by the freedoms that it gives to assimilated conformists. It has to be measured by the freedoms that it gives to disaffected dissidents. I think that, like Robert Frost with the world, I've had a long-running lover's quarrel with America. "You could be so much more yourself, if only you tried!" But a lover's quarrel is still a quarrel between lovers.

I never vote without tearing up over the people who died (especially the Suffragettes) so that I could walk into my little local community arts center and vote. I never walk into the Supreme Court without seeing the inscription "Equal Justice Under Law" and sobbing with love, a practice that's been professionally embarrassing more than once. I never stand in the Lincoln Memorial, or the Jefferson, or the Roosevelt, or the rotunda of the Capitol, or the well of any court or federal agency in the land without remembering the oath that I took to support the Constitution when I became a member of the bar and an officer of the court. In my most profound dreams, I walk among the marble statues and memorials of this city dedicated to the Goddess Columbia.

And so I'm happy and proud to say that I am a patriot and anyone who says that I'm not a "real" American" (fuck you, Sarah Palin, et al.) is a fucking liar. I'm as American as you can get, born at the foot of Pikes Peak, looking out over a wheatfield, thriving on the banks of the Potomac, exercising my Constitutial rights, sworn to defend the Constitution, and loving what America stands for with all my heart.

Happy 4th of July.


thistle333 said...

Sing it, Sister!! Your story is, in many ways, my story. And I, too, am a Goddess-damned Patriot!

Anne Johnson said...


The first time I went into the Library of Congress and requested a book, and they brought it to me, I sat there and cried. I felt like I'd been given the whole world. I still remember the book. It was about Piltdown Man, first published in 1924. And I got that first edition, 1924.

Now, at least two of my books are in the shelves there. It's not just D.A.R. with me. I love this country.

david scott said...

Although, I personally am so far to the left that even the democrats appear to me to be "right-wing," I consider myself to be a strict constitutionalist. It is my opinion that since its inception there has been an organized and systematic assault by the conservatives in the United States on the civil liberties written into the US Constitution. The “War on Drugs”; “War on Terror”; “War on Communism” and a host of other wars waged by the right wing are really nothing more than a War on People--an excuse to erode civil rights to the point of non-existence. I invite you to my website devoted to raising awareness on this puritan attack on freedom: