Friday, August 17, 2007

Proud to be an American?

I have always had a bit of a bone to pick with people who were born U.S. citizens, and particularly those who are not in military service for the US, who say that they are proud to be an American.

To me, it's like saying, "I'm proud to have blue eyes!" There are certain benefits to having blue eyes, but it's not my fault that I have blue eyes. I was born with blue eyes. (Not green, blue.) I didn't fight to have blue eyes, or earn my blue eyes, or win them.

But I'm sure glad that my forefathers left the UK and Hungary and wherever else they came from to come to America, the land of opportunities, both taken and missed. I like being American. America has perks.

And that brings me to another thing. Explaining your American-ness to a world that has a love-hate relationship with our gas-guzzling, war-on-terror, Disneyland-birthing country.

It's like Greg's brilliant post (and no, it's not just brilliant just because he quotes me) on people who modify their statement of Christian faith with "but I'm the cool kind." (Which usually means they drink.)

"I'm American, but I'm the cool kind" ...which probably means Communist.

Just kidding. I happen to be the closest thing to a Communist in my whole entire family, as I've said before, because I listen to NPR. Like Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball, arguably, I sympathize with dirty Reds. I've washed their socks before.

My friend Kris told me once about these Canadian kits that U.S. travelers buy, with little Canadian flags, so when these travelers go overseas, they will be popular, because everybody likes Canadians.

And it really bugged me. I'm not proud to be American, but I'm ok with staying American. I wouldn't be proud to be unAmerican or antiAmerican.

No, I'm not endorsing frat-boy Americana and all the dumb actions of Americans everywhere. (I even hate that there is no short way to say "U.S. Citizen," because I think the word "American" implies that citizens of the U.S. think they are the only Americans in the world.)

I think obnoxious tourists are singularly unpleasant. I think xenophobic people should stop being xenophobic. (I'm not sure exactly how to unxenophobe someone, though.)

But when I go overseas, I shall remain an American, in spite of all temptations to belong to other nations.*

And I highly doubt that REAL Canadians are so dorky as to carry around pocket-sized Canadian flags.

*(Gilbert and Sullivan quote, from HMS Pinafore.)

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