T Nation

What is

I’ve been troubled a lot by the recent trend of conservative Americans saying that others (especially anti-war and anti-Bush folks) “hate America” or are “unpatriotic”. So a simple question to those who have ever made those accusations:

What is America?

It seems that these days, the only equation is “what our government does is what is means to be an American”

Support Bush, support war, support enormous tax cuts.

Were you un-American when you didn’t support Clinton in his quest to get blown?

America is an idea to me, a phantom - not a set of ideas or priniciples, but the methods by which we can disagree on them yet stand together as a nation as the greatest experiement in people getting along though they hate each other ever.

I am so troubled by the “if you don’t like it get out” attitude and the hostility attached to it. Isn’t that the most un-American thing of all?

Well said.

“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.”

Charles de Gaulle

I’d like to add:

All these conservatives that have been saying that you must support the president at all costs:

Would you be saying the same thing if

  1. He/ She was a Democrat
  2. He/ She was against the war
  3. He/ she was more internationalist and less nationalistic in approach

Just interested.

I will agree some have been a little “overzealous” in their statements. Nobody should be told to get out if they have different beliefs. Although I find that many are stating that they are against the war, people disagree with them, and then suddenly they are complaining that they are being called un-American. I personally haven’t called anyone un-American, although one keeps trying to put words into my mouth, and to twist my meaning.

I believe everyone here has the right to say whatever they want. But they have to be able to take the responses from others because of their statements. I have found that there are some who believe that if anyone disagrees with them then their right of speech has been violated. It is a two way street.

While I disagree with the statements that some should leave, I believe that is also their right to say that. Then again I believe that the statements about leaving were not an attempt to tell the people to leave, but more along the lines of “if you are not happy here then why don’t you leave?” I took it as more of an off-handed question then a statement, and not too seriously.

America to me is both the concept, and the people. It has also been called an experiment. The difference in opinions is a big part of what America is. I find that you have to be careful oversimplifying what America is. The one concept people too often forget is kaizen. If we are not improving, we are going backwards.

When I think of America, I think of Biotest and Testosterone. Really. The intelligence of the articles, the advanced supplements, and the freedom of expression. How many other countries could have produced this? Or even allowed it?

America is based on the constitution. If you don’t like that you can leave.
I support the constitution and believe today both sides right and left and been trying to bend an manipulate it. And I think that sucks. Leave my rights alone. I do not think people should be out their judging and labeling people bad Americans for their lack of support. That is what the country is based on,the right to disagree

I agree that America is more a set of ideals rather than a particular piece of real estate.

My issue with the people who spout off verbally is the people like Richard Gere – basically stated that, should Bush get elected, he was going to leave the country. So Bush got elected, and he’s still here. Gere isn’t willing to put his money where his mouth is, so to speak. THAT is what I have a problem with.

iscariot,
You really are a boor. I love your little “just interested” questions. Let me try to write an analagous question. I’m new at this kind of garbage so cut me some slack. 1. What has New Zealand ever done to contribute to mankind except for allowing the Lord of the Rings production company to use it as a backdrop? I was just curious. That was uncomfortable for me. Your tactic of making these inflammatory accusations and then trying to seem reasonable with the “just interested” comment, is ridiculous. I’m not going to justify your comments like “less nationalistic.” I encourage everyone on the forum to realize that iscariot called the United States a terrorist country. He said we should attack ourselves and Israel before attacking Iraq.
e mckee, you have been hovering just off the radar with your little comments. I may start paying more attention to you. Funny you should use de gaulle as an example. Did you know that NATO was originally based in paris? Your hero, de gaulle, threw a temper tantrum and kicked them out of france. Look it up. They apparently weren’t doing what he wanted in several instances, so he booted them out. What a statesman!!!
rumbach, there a subset of people in this country that bad-mouth nearly every aspect of American society. Nothing America does is ever good enough for them. I would like you to punch in the name lumpy in the search engine. Read all of his posts. Tell me whether this person is an asset to American society. Tell me if this person holds our values and ideals sacred. Tell me if you think this sort of person ever volunteers his/her time in the service of America. Now you tell me, would this person benefit from some time in syria? How about somalia? Finally, how about trying to speak his/her mind in pre-war iraq? I submit, that lumpy would benefit greatly from another perspective. He/she might even begin to appreciate the freedoms he/she takes for granted. Instead of idle talk, he/she might actually want to work to improve America. I know it is a stretch, but lumpy may even begin to realize that what we are doing in iraq has a large humanitarian component to it. No more wood chipper=good. In summary, I cannot force lumpy to support the American way, but I would LOVE to spend an hour with him one on one.

 US=Good Guys, I gotta say, I love your responses, well put.

Rumbach, well thought out and very well said.

Dude, you comin’ to strongman training tonight? And bringing your friend to watch?

 Iscariot: 'All these conservatives that have been saying that you must support the president at all costs'.

 'At all costs'? Who's saying that? 

 Im sorry to disappoint you, but Im pretty sure what has been said, is that you should support our president and our troops in times of war, for obvious reasons, such as a smooth, efficient, and fast move-in, move-out of the the front line for our troops - they're the ones whose lives are on the line, and as such we should be behind them and do whatever we can to make the conflict as smooth as possible for them so they can hopefully return to their families in one piece.

  Other than that, if the president proposes something senseless that goes against the grain of our society and our values, who's going to support him, and who's going to be chanting we have to support him at all costs?

  Ahhhh, how sweet it is to twist words round an'round till they work against us. Context is a wonderful thing.

  As a side note I would love to see New Zealanders get their nose out of our ass. As a New Zealander, you should have more interest in entertaining your own country's  directino in politics, than those of someone else's country far far away from you. That goes for Canadians as well as french, and any other country but the US for that matter. As non-citizens, and non-residents, you dont have a say on what we the U.S. do. If you do not currently hold the right to vote, please talk amongst yourselves quietly so as not to disturb us. Althoug as I said, you might see more progress made in your own quality of life if you talked about your country's policies and politics. It just seems everytime a country's not doing so well for its residents they have to stick their noses in some other country to distract themselves. Could you please stop this practice? Thanx!!!

UnitedStates=GoodGuys

Do you realize the irony of your statements? You are the most overzelous protaginist of conservative Republican thought on these boards, but you constantly criticize your own mirror images on the left for doing the same? Doesn’t this just smack of a complete lack of critical thinking skills?

To All:

I understand that my own particular views don’t fall in line with others very often. I am a hardline liberal socialist, believing in such “radical” ideas as legalized prostitution and the decriminalization of drugs. I support the right of choice, oppose the death penalty, think that George Bush is a buffoon, and that most democrats are no better. I put the environment and the harmony of communities before the Republican ideal of “America’s standard of Living” (read: we can do whatever we want cuz’ we’re Americans godammit). Etc, etc.

But, I respect others views, understand that mine aren’t necessarily “right” in the philosophy of the absolute, and am willing to recognize the gray areas in almost all issues. I am just troubled by the whole notion of “patriotism” and “nationalism”.

As was said earlier in this thread, America is about progress, evolution - not accepting that what here and now is endgame. Slaves were the norm, now we regret that. Women’s suffrage was not the norm, now we regret that. I believe that someday we will regret our discrimination against gay marriages, the monetary aspects of American politics, against activities the Christian right deems “immoral”. So if feeling this way is “un-American”, I give a big “fuck you” to the person saying it. Without progress we die, and without opposition thinkers, the status quo becomes stagnant.

USGG= Don’t patronize me with one of your so frequently specious “lessons” on history. I am quite familer with the story of post-war France and NATO. The reason why Americans hated De Gaulle was that he was a patriot of France. Rather than looking across the atlantic for direction, he attempted to act in the best interest of HIS nation. While he most certainly was an obnoxious fellow, he hardly had a monopoly on that trait. The funniest thing about nationalist types is that they are so much alike, yet they despide each other so vehemently.

Ms. Eddie Vedder

I agree with much of your post, but this I must argue with:

“But Mr. Bush is in charge of this country and in charge of our well being, and if he decides that its within our best interest to take out Saddam, so be it.”

In a democracy, we the people are in charge of Mr. Bush, not the other way around. He is supposed to be a representitive of our wills, not the other way around.

Firstly, Kudos to Rumbach and E Mckee
[Sorry guys - I’ve probably made you bad people by association :(]

So, US=GG, I’m a boor huh? [Def: ill mannered and / or insensitive person].
Heh. Pot:Kettle:Black. …you poor petal, treading on your tiny little toes are we? Don’t worry precious.

1. What has New Zealand ever done to contribute to mankind except for allowing the Lord of the Rings production company to use it as a backdrop? I was just curious.

Well, lessee. Two examples off the top of my head which are kind of importantand by your criteria, relating specifically to contributions to mankind:

Lord Ernest Rutherford split the atom
and Maurice Wilkins along with Crick and Watson did that whole pesky DNA thing, got some sort of award for it too.

Now LoTR is a good film, but i’d hardly consider it a contribution to mankind.
And since the director and the writers and the production crew are predominantly from NZ I am bemused asto the backdrop thing.

That was uncomfortable for me.

Probably because it wasn’t a direct insult; you had to try and think creatively. [C- BTW for your creative effort]

Your tactic of making these inflammatory accusations and then trying to seem reasonable with the “just interested” comment, is ridiculous.

Where was this “inflammatory accusation”?

I encourage everyone on the forum to realize that iscariot called the United States a terrorist country. He said we should attack ourselves and Israel before attacking Iraq.

Not this AGAIN sigh One more time for the hard of hearing - I think that’s just you US=GG.

By saying that place X is a terrorist country,you are saying that EVERY PERSON
in that country is a terrorist.

Obviously this is rubbish.

Now, what I said, was this. That the US
has groups within its borders that are by definition terrorist groups, I suggested that perhaps the US should clean its own house first before telling everyone else how to run theirs.

This is a simple concept - for everyone except you US=GG.

Diesel: As a side note: you’re saying that I should be more concern with NZ’s politics. Why? I like my politics and the direction of my country.

Also, NZ should keep it’s nose out of the US’ arse [I believe youso eloquently said]. Doesn’t this strike you as even slightly ironic or say, hypocritical?

You can’t seriously be arguing that the US is the only country that has a legitimate reason/ right to stick their nose into other people’s business.

I would like to put forth a topic that has been bothering me for some time now. Personally, I support our government and our troops. (Yes, no matter what party is in power.) However, I came across a situation that perturbed me quite a bit about 2 weeks ago. A friend of mine who is very liberal has an American Flag hung upside down in his room. Now to some this may seem OK. To me is seems disrepectful and yes, unpatriotic. His response was that is is not disrespectful but a sign of distress over the current leadership of our country and the unjust war (his words).

My question: how does everyone else feel about this? Is it a reasonable means of protest or a sign of disrespect?

iscariot,
Here is another one of those tactics that you try to pull when you are in the wrong. It’s called fabrication and fallacy. Here is your EXACT QUOTE: “I never said the US has got to get every terrorist country - they’d have to attack themselves and Israel and other allies - or none at all, it’s just that I’m a logical person, and the rationale presented per potential action has huge holes”
If anyone here (except restless and lumpy) believes that you didn’t call us a terrorist country, I will be stunned. Please look your quote up. Oh, please notice that I included the entire quote so that you couldn’t pull your “context” garbage.
I must mark this on the calender, iscariot, I learned something from you today. I had always assumed that Rutherford and Wilkins were from England. Well, I was almost right. Wilkins left NZ at the ripe old age of 6. Rutherford had the good grace to hang around your area until he reached the advanced old age of 23. “It’s been nice, New Zealand, but I’m off to institutions and countries where I can make some real discoveries.” I 100% agree with you that these men were giants of science. They did make substantial contributions to mankind.
Not inflammatory? I love when you try to act innocent. Your hatred of our government and people keeps shining through. Here is your quote: “He/ she was more internationalist and less nationalistic in approach” Even lumpy could figure out what you were saying there. Not internationalist, huh? I would say that helping free Afghan women from mental and physical abuse, stopping the wood chipper, and encouraging religious and personal freedoms is pretty international. In case you have trouble defining the word international in this context, Afghanistan and Iraq are not within the borders of the United States.
The definition of boor from the online English dictionary is a follows: “Meaning: A crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement.
Broader: unpleasant person
disagreeable person”
That’s my iscariot!!!
By the way, if you can’t fall asleep tonight, try counting the number of times the United States has done something to promote freedom around the globe. You may need a calculator.

US+GG said “I cannot force lumpy to support the American way, but I would LOVE to spend an hour with him one on one.”

Meaning what? What are you trying to say?

Please, if you are making some sort of insinuation there, don’t tapdance around it. I’m not so good at taking hints, so speak plainly.

Your claim that I “don’t support the American way” is a load of steaming horseshit. It’s simple-minded like many of your other statements (“these are the BAD GUYS”) and it’s offensive. This whole thread is intended to ask each individual “what do YOU think the American way is?” so please don’t put words in my mouth. Don’t speak for me.

Yes, I agree that I do not support the “US=GG American way”. YOUR sick version of the American way is thankfully not “THE” American way. What you are into is Fascism. That is not what I am into, and thank God that is not what most people want.

America is constantly being defined and redefined, not just by our leaders but by the citizens, I think that is obvious. Unfortunately, I think America is being led in a bad and negative direction, and IMO some of the bad decisions being made right now could possibly impact the country in a negative way for the next 50 years (who knows).

I am talking about things like the loss of privacy, threats to the Constitution, running up a huge deficit, alienating most of the rest of the world, attacking sovereign nations without direct provocation, and other concerns.

Hey Patricia - couldn’t come last night due to work and all (plus the girl being back in town, yay!) But, would love to work strongman into my schedule this summer…

we’ll talk more…

^^

let us frame that response by saying that I am also afraid of you people, and that I’m not quite sure I am cut out for strongman, but would love to give it a shot.

 Good question: WHAT IS America, or better yet, the U.S.A. Is it:

 1. holding puke-fests to demonstrate how you feel about your country?
 2. Purposefully blocking Ports, so as to disrupt the shipping of supplies to our troops, which include daily rations, gas masks, medicine, ammo, parts, and more?
 3. Wishing harm on your fellow americans, who are SERVING YOU?
 4. Expressing your disgust at our government, OUTISDE YOUR CONTRY, where it matters the least? 
 5. Hurling concrete, iron bolts at the cops who are trying to maintain order during demonstrations, and have to shoot bean bags at you to stop you from getting out of hand - just so you can then go on national TV and complain that Police officers were unreasonably harsh and used force to 'STOP YOU FROM SPEAKING YOUR MIND'
 6. is it hanging your flag upside down to show your disgust at our country?


 Sorry, Rumbach, but you're confusing the freedoms afforded to US citizens, with the definition of a true-blue american. The above things do not qualify you as such. You are still an american because you're a citizen, but these people sure as hell arent the definition of a real american, and what America stands for. Hurling iron bolts and concrete at officers for maintaing order is everything but free speech. Holding puke-fests to show how you regard your country is nothing but a right afforded you by the constitution - not the definition of a true american. 


  Regardless of what your opinion is, TRUE americans dont spit on their flag and their country, hurt officers and service men, and wish their deaths. They will speak their mind publicly, but NEVER, EVER, EVER try to purposefully hurt their fellow americans AND wish them harm. That's as unamerican as itll get, and, the likes of Natalie Maines, Eddie Veder, Columbia U. professor who wished 1000 mogadishus on troops, and many many others are not true-blue americans. They live in the US, but they represent everything but the definition of a true american.