I first noticed America’s problem with labels while reading about so called “family groups,” like the American Family Association, Focus on the Family and others. The more these groups harped on “family,” the less I could see my own family reflected in their “values.” In short, these groups don’t represent—or even recognize—my secular, progressive family.
I could not be more delighted.
The latest word that rings in my ears daily is “Patriot.” Take a moment to think about how often you’ve heard this word over the past year or so, and you’ll notice it’s always used in the context of some person or group self-identifying. It’s almost exclusively a self-adopted label.
As American politics have gotten more angry and dysfunctional, some in the Tea Party camp recently insisted on shutting down the government and screwing over large swaths of the country, all while calling themselves patriots. The more they damaged the country and the people in it, the louder and shriller their claims of “patriotism” became. Let me pose an academic exercise.
Imagine you observe a middle-aged guy standing on a rooftop screaming, “I’m straight, I’m straight, I’m straight,” at the top of his lungs. What would you think?
Would you say to yourself, “Why, there goes a straight young man! Boy, that guy must really love chicks!” I don’t think so. You would probably ask yourself who the hell this guy is trying to convince. The answer is always: himself.
Sure you’re straight, pal. Whatever you say.
So it is with the word patriot. Tea Party Patriots. Patriots against Obama. Patriots who hate lib-tards. (I find that word needlessly mean to two groups, but it’s instructive.) So, I ask: Who are these self-identified “patriots” trying to convince?
They aren’t trying to convince me, because I already believe these people to be something wholly different than “patriots.” In my opinion they hate America (hate is a strong word but apt here). You cannot love a country while despising a majority of its citizens. First, they hate my guts because I’m a lib-tard (sorry again). They also hate you if you’re gay, liberal, feminist, suspiciously brown, on food stamps, a Muslim, a humanist, or any other “ist” or “ism” that doesn’t fall under the accepted Americanisms of the Tea Party. By my count that’s at least a few percent over half the country.
While they hold and declare such deep loathing for most Americans, they simultaneously bellow their self-defined patriot label. I just don’t buy it, and I never will. But if they keep yelling loud enough, perhaps one day they will succeed at convincing themselves.