It's not a new epidemic but one that has been revisited with staggering fanaticism across the country since the post 9-11 era has been ushered in. I call it, Idiotic Patriotic Syndrome.
Most fellow Americans would never question the events of 9-11 and why thousands of Americans were wiped off the face of the planet that day, but they would definitely run down to the nearest Wal-Mart as soon as possible to get that fashionable flag everyone was now sporting. So they, too, could flaunt theirs around like a crucifix thwarting off the dark evil forces of terrorism.
I recall people searching for flags high and low; throughout attics, basements, garages, and old boxes…"now, we used to have a flag, where did we put it after we used it last?" It was also apparent that most American citizens, while searching for their long forgotten flags, realized that their patriotism had also been long forgotten and was dust-covered from all the years of non-use as well. Repent ye sinners! This "realization" seemed to create a temporary (let's all brandish a flag and we'll be ok again) passion for patriotism while under the pretence of defending the country against terrorism and the now "very real" threat of being attacked. Fear of Being Attacked = Justification for War. Now we have an agreeable (vengeful) patriotic America invading Afghanistan. Now we have thousands of dead Afghanistan civilians but wait, oh yes, a cooperative internationally recognized government = Pipeline-istan. Oil is well. Osama who, where? Never mind that…let's all buy more American flags, it's good for the economy and keeps evil at bay. "Plus, my new SUV really brings out the navy in that flag."
And so the fury of the 9-11 days and the delusional search for Osama bin Laden begin to diminish as American flags fly off car antennas and eventually get put back in their boxes as they become less fashionable. But wait…don't pack it up just yet…there's more! Iraq needs liberatin' from that evil dictator who has weapons of mass destruction. Flag sales go up again along with yellow ribbon this time. Wrap everything in it…and everything will be just fine. And if you're anti-war, you're anti-American and have no right to use the flag. Meanwhile thousands of Iraqis are bombed to shit. Death = Liberation. War = Peace. Oil = Billions, of Dollars that is. Then the statue of Saddam, his head anyway, gets wrapped in the American flag and is torn down in a staged media extravaganza. Liberation accomplished. Never mind the death and destruction and the ongoing suffering, that's all been there before anyway. Just wrap it up in the American flag and it'll be all right. Them flags sure make great coffin covers, too and do a great job supporting our troops, which is a very patriotic thing.
Sounding a bit idiotic? Ummm…errr…uh huh…duh…!!!
I remember being 5 years old and singing America the Beautiful in school for the first time. It is a clear event that stands out in my consciousness even now for some reason; maybe because it was my first realization that I lived in a country called America, or its great ideal, or its significant metaphors. I remember singing the words to this song as if it were a soulless resonance of something I couldn't even comprehend at the time, something that was merely connected to the American flag and the pledge of allegiance.
Well, now that I'm all grown up or pretend to be at times, I think of this song and I'm quite sure, as Americans, we need to do better within the country and internationally. So I pledge my allegiance not only to Americans but to humanity in general. I believe that countries are, in a way, only fabricated borders between people. I believe that everyone should have the right to a peaceful existence and the right to live a successful life. I understand the concept of America and what it should be. I understand why people get Idiotic Patriotic Syndrome but I can only wonder what the symbolism of the American flag means to others who have suffered such injustice under its shadow. I can only imagine the horror of children like Ali in Iraq who now has no family and no arms and is severely burned. I'm sure he won't be waving an American flag or singing America the Beautiful anytime soon.
While it is not really idiotic to be patriotic, it is our right and responsibility as Americans to expect truth and integrity from our political leaders. So all Americans suffering from IPS…here's your first step on the road to recovery…do a reality check NOW and find out what you are really wrapping up in that flag! And if it's Bullshit or Bushshit, it's ALL shit and must be recognized for what it is.
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