When Patriotism Goes Insane

When Patriotism Goes Insane
Dane La Born

Dane La Born

Fourteen years ago, religious maniacs hijacked passenger jets and caused one of the worst acts of terrorism the United States has ever seen. Every year around 9/11, Americans tend to recount the ‘Where they were and what they were doing’ parts of their stories. I’ve done it more times than I can count, and what I feel about that day feels genuine.

I love my country, and part of the reason I love it so much is that I have the freedom to criticize it without fear of reprisal. In the time since 9/11, the term Patriot has come to mean a scary thing, and talking about the love one feels for the United States comes across as self-aggrandizing, congratulatory “Yay me, I’m American and everyone else sucks” because of that.

This year, as the 14th anniversary of 9/11 quietly passed in the United States, a crane collapsed on a mosque in Mecca, killing 107 people. As reports spread across the world, I observed more than a few people calling it an act of God, and more, an act of vengeance on the people of Islam, rather than the senseless, stupid tragedy that it was.

Every year since 9/11, it seems, the fight against Islamophobia gets harder and harder. Every year, the articles and posts are shared from conservative media all over the country, reminding everyone that the “real” enemy is still strong, and that it’s name is Islam. They talk about how our nation needs to return to God and stop giving rights and privileges to this monstrous religion. They do all of this while callously sporting the American flag wherever it will fit.

When did patriotism become this? I suppose it’s always been this way. Even in World War II, racism and bigotry and suspicion quickly took the place of silly American ideals like “Freedom” and “Equality.” Not only can you find blatant racism in media and government propoganda, on par with political cartoons of the Jews found in Germany, but lest we forget, we also rounded up American citizens and put them into internment camps all over the country, one of which was in our state, all in the name of public safety.

So maybe there is no answer here. Maybe having pride in one’s country walks hand-in-hand with hating that country’s enemies, and all those who dare be enemy adjacent. Everything I see is painting it that way, but I refuse to let that be the way.

Anyone with even a passing, actual knowledge of Islam knows it is no more or less violent than Christianity. Every religion has its share of fanatics, but the American people as a whole have got to realize that fanatics don’t make up the entire religion. I’ve said before that ISIS is no more representative of Islam than the Westboro Baptist Church is representative of Christianity. These are all organizations whose members and cohorts twist the words of their books to suit their own hateful ends.

As far as Americans go, our xenophobia is getting worse and worse if the media at large is to be believed. You can’t turn on the news lately without hearing about our need to keep immigrants out and take the fight to the middle east. What’s more, there are major presidential candidates saying these, frankly, terrifying things. This is not the America I love and admire. We accept all those who want to be here, and the ideals written down almost 300 years ago still strike a chord with me today. I won’t believe the media’s painting of us, I know we are better than that, and I think we’ll prove it soon enough.

I’m a patriot, to me that means I have the strength to question when my country isn’t being as good as I know it should be, and trying my damnedest to instill change wherever I can.

Categories: Commentary