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Angry Dan's Column

Dan Denounces Patriotism

by Daniel Strohl

First off, I'd like to thank the huge amount of losers who didn't respond to the "Angrier than Thou" contest in May. You have now ceded that I am the angriest motherfucker on the Internet.

Second, I'd like to formally retract my statements about vegetarianism in my August 1998 column . While humans may technically be omnivores, vegetarianism isn't necessarily unnatural, as I learned from a recent encounter with beef jerky.

Now, this is July, the month of America's Independence Day, and it's only fitting I denounce patriotism this month.

Patriotism, seen in garish flag-waving parades, dedications and celebrations of exensive memorials to "those who gave their lives for our freedom," Bruce Springsteen songs and even in school spirit rallies, is nothing more than mindless dedication to a set of ideals which most people don't fully understand.

Yes, I'm saying I find it difficult to glorify KIAs when a good lot of them were high-school dropouts who were more thrilled with going over there to kill some gooks/japs/krauts/spics than they were thrilled to be defending the Bill of Rights.

Yes, I'm saying I find it difficult to believe people really think about what it means to be an American when I continually hear the same cliches and I continually read of low scores or low interest in American history/government classes. Melting pot, First Amendment, freedom, liberty, right to free speech, right to a fair trial. These are all terms, ingrained by hegemony, that become cliches only because people dont stop and think why they're using them.

No, I'm not saying I dont believe in the above concepts. Nor am I claiming to know what it means to be an American. That debate could go on for years and it'd just be abunch of people going off about their own experiences, eventualy coming back to those same cliches. I also fear it would degrade into a debate solely about culture, in which case I would wonder why we haven't elected more actors as president.

Yes, I am saying that patriotism goes against logic, the concept of open debate and the concept of truth-seeking. Self-governance has nothing to benefit from the quashing of anything that goes against patriotism. For example, the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities, which may be history in the government, is definitely present in spirit in people's minds. For example, a member of a city council I regularly report on in my job routinely discounts any discussion that doesn't follow with his idea of how the city should properly celebrate Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, the American Legion, the raising and lowering of the flag, etc. Fortunately, this guy's nuts and the rest of the council doesn't even bother to hide their contempt for him.

Finally, no I am not saying every patriot or every veteran accepts Americanism wholeheartedly. I know of several vets who carry an open mind on Americanism, including one who sits on that same city council opposite the patriotic opposer. But they're far outnumbered in my experiences by closed-minded, staunchly patriotic veterans. And when many of our leaders appeal to this sentiment - for that matter, any sentiment - over reason, that's proof to me that patriotism has gone too far.

Has Dan made you angry?

If so, feel free to send him and email and let him know just how wrong he is.

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