The Phenomenon of Merica: A Critique of Mindless Patriotism
According to the fashion style of the common American citizen, the good ol’ US of A seems to have become an absurd novelty. More than ever, this country has become a big red, white and blue joke — and a rather distasteful one at that. I wonder if other countries manufacture t-shirts and ball-caps with their national emblem donning a pair of aviator sunglasses, sporting an AK in one claw and a New Testament bible in the other, the image complete with the nonsensical abbreviation, MERICA! in bold printed letters arching over the top. What is patriotism really except an exaggerated form of national egotism?
Mindless citizens (whom are probably voting Republican) whom most regularly sport such patriotic merchandise seem to have reached the summit of a fine balance: a nationalistic fundamentalism merged with a vague notion of personal values. I have little doubt that these values, the ones shouted at 4th of July stage shows, Tea Party rallies and sung in contemporary country-pop songs — namely, freedom & liberty — are nothing more than synonymous words attached to hazy, ill-defined conceptual images regurgitated through the mouths of their favorite politicians. The observation I am making here is, how often does the common citizen reflect upon what freedom actually means or implicates? Does freedom have an extent, or a limit? And what of liberty? And what of their intimate connection with one another, if any? Where does government fit into these ideals? Civics is a valuable educational field to explore, yet unexplored this territory remains by minds tethered to preconceived notions handed down to them by a nation-worshiping culture.
The answer to everything lies within the bible and the constitution (which they don’t read) so why ask anymore questions? Land of the Free, Home of the Brave has been a mantra of endless repetition for decades. Because it is a statement as abundant as the air we breathe, it must be infinitely true, no? Of course, we can’t forget the beloved national favorite: The American Dream. It appears as yet another empty phrase echoing in the halls of the unconscious, merely a concept to be utilized by the same advertising companies which manufacture flags, t-shirts, and needless products which any good American should purchase if he truly loves and has pride in his country. But what does it mean — this dream? Is it something to be pursued and uncovered, or does it exist as a natural supplement given to a citizen as his birth right? As George Carlin most aptly stated, “The thing about the American dream is that you have to be asleep to believe it.”
I presume the mouth-breathing, red-white-and-blue-clad, beer-soaked alpha-primitives of nationalistic-religious fervor hardly ever attempt to fully define nor question anything at all. Of course, I know that this is only one sample of the American citizen and should not at all reflect the whole of the country. I am indeed discussing a stereotype, but it is a stereotype I have seen all too often in the flesh, which illustrates to me that it is a reality. Admittedly, the sheer amount of this particular unthinking attitude and dogmatic pop culture patriotism frightens me quite a lot. And I know it stems from a greater source, that infinite well inside of all human beings: namely, the well of stupidity. As the brilliant and humble genius, Albert Einstein had said, “There are two things that are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not sure about the former.”
Moreover, what is evidently missing in these fashion (or lack thereof) style choices is a sense of integrity. The most deranged thing about this is, I think that people whom sport such stupid iconography of nationalism fully believe that they themselves have a great sense of integrity — a word which they are confusing, I believe, with senseless pride. This senseless pride extends beyond mere gift shop t-shirts, hats, and distorted bald-eagle relics however — it extends to bumper stickers, banners, signs, and blindly accepted inner values which promulgate further into the popular culture, like a deadly virus to the thinking mind.
I will end with one aphorism of my own:
In the land of the unconscious, home of ignorant, Freedom is a gas station and Liberty is a jeep!