Monday, September 9, 2013

Self Appointed Patriotism Police Keep Busy Until the Next War

I've been somewhat following Steven Salaita's neo/retro/timeless thoughts against patriotism and the way it is presented as essentially linked with militarism in this country.   I agree that this is a despicable thing, and the way that some responded to his article even more so.  The labeling of Salaita as a 'faggot' is however predictable still very disgusting, and needless to say those who view patriotism as essentially male and equate national identity with manliness/ability to dominate are far more in love with flags and crying eagles than they are with the soft-fleshed human beings who actually compose the USA.  As for the racism highlighted in his article, well, Salaita is a half Arab half Latin atheist people, so even if you Real American types do get your Muslim genocide I'm afraid that this guy would still be around to annoy you. 

Still Saliata seems to share the right wing assumption that patriotism is invariably tied to military dominance/imperialism even while disagrees with the notion and so rejects the very idea of patriotism out of hand.  I can't get behind that myself. 

"We can spend energy formulating a more inclusive and thoughtful patriotism, but ultimately it wouldn’t be energy well spent. Patriotism can only benefit all citizens if the state and its institutions are inclusive of the entire populace. Until that happens, and it has never happened in any epoch of American history, patriotism will have a stronger relationship with ethnonationalism than with movements for equality"

Not so fast friend.  No nation has ever achieved the ideal of being inclusive of its whole population.  Not to be flip or tu quoque about it, and I honestly hope I have no such unconscious motives, but every society has always condemned certain people to be gypsies tramps and thieves out of some irrational prejudice or another.  One could argue that the United States has been especially bad in this matter vis-vis other wealthy countries or not.  No tu quoque like I said.  But in spite of limits and inequities of the nation-state the fact remains that people are still going to seek out ways to express love of home and a mass identity beyond the self.  Patriotism will exist, there's no helping that, and I'm not sure why Salaita assumes out of hand that patriotism is essentially chauvinistic; that the far-right "ethnonationalists" are precisely the true enforcers of real patriotism they fancy themselves to be.  They aren't.  We are all agreed on fuck those guys, and patriotism has no eternal essence beyond what we make of it.  It is only ever whatever we choose to make of it, and I have a hard time seeing how we can maintain the energy towards an all-inclusive ideal nation without the emotional power of an all-inclusive compatriotism  And yes a proud American identity can most certainly exist without being either overtly or implicitly linked to the conquering power of White Men.  It already does and always has.  Motherfuck John Wayne and all that but I still share a flag with Bessie Smith. 

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