I put this in Courting because I love it, it’s about me, me, me, and what it feels like to blog in a world where a nice Jewish girl from New York with a smallish mouth actually but a big computer and a large vocabulary is considered suspect for expressing her views.
Lately I have been thinking about what it means to be a patriot. At Bring it on! our logo is a quote by President Theodore Roosevelt
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
At Bring it on! we are disparate individuals brought together by a common goal. We believe that it is patriotic to talk about things that we perceive to be wrong in the country that we all love, The United States of America. Yes, we criticize the president, his cabinet and supporters. We try to engage people in debates. Many times we get comments telling us that we’re not patriots, move to France, yadda, yadda, yadda.
I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Jerrold Nadler is my Congressman, and I’m damn proud that he protested last Friday at The Patriot Act Hearing.
We are not besmirching the honor of the United States, we are trying to uphold it
That’s patriotism in action to me. Being an elected official, and speaking out on difficult issues is a congress person’s right and duty. In my family we were taught that voting is just the beginning of a citizen’s responsibilities; we have to talk and act when we perceive wrongs.
I was brought up to believe that I had to answer to the highest authority, my own conscience. I’ve never been confused for a saint, but I have never been confused about my values. They’re good.
Before I began blogging seven months ago, I had no idea that expressing ideas could be conceived as being unpatriotic, and wrong.
I wrote a post in my personal blog about how I’m not a linear thinker. Innocuous, I thought, wrongly. One of the comments I received asked how far to the left I was, and what were my mental problems. This person has a theory that non-linear thinking, and certain mental conditions are hallmarks of the Far Left. Dare I state the obvious? That question was just plain rude.
crossposted at Bring it on!
Blew me away as I’m not very far to the left at all; and I’m a garden variety neurotic who is a bit more willing to talk about myself than other people might be. From then on almost everything I wrote was analyzed in depth for signs of far left behavior, odd thoughts, whining, and mental instability.
Hey I’m a New Yorker. Others speak; we whine; we argue; we scream on top of each other, but at the end of the day we go out for a drink together. I wasn’t used to actually being disliked for having thoughts that others might not share.
I was stunned by the implications that believing in free speech, not blaming Muslims for every problem, and supporting the ACLU could be construed as being a far leftist, emotionally unstable, and of course, not patriotic.
Amy Guttman, President, University of Pennsylvania had this to say in a Commencement Address at Wesleyan University:
Mutual respect is the lifeblood of democracy. … The signs of disrespect are all around us. In the ferocious assault on the judiciary. In the shrill debate over Terri Schiavo. And worst of all, in the hateful ad attacks that issue daily from the radio and TV talk shows. We are living in a smash-mouth culture in which extremists dominate public debate to the point of hijacking it. You cannot have a reasoned discussion about abortion when one side is slandered as “baby-killers” and the other side is smeared as “religious wing nuts.
Each time I try to talk about abortion, I’m accused of “liking” abortion. No reasonable person “likes” abortion. To most people who are pro-choice it’s a very difficult and thought out decision. I have Bible Scriptures flung in my face. I’m not Christian, and while I respect a person’s right to live his life according to Scriptures, I’m not accorded the same respect.
I have been called a moral relativist because I can’t quote just one source that supports my views. Apparently reading many sources, being educated at the Grad School level, and a lifetime of civilized dinner discussions means less than being able to point to one book or preacher, and say “this is where my views come from.” I have read threads where people laugh at the idea of a moral relativist thinking she has the right to express her own views.
I once made a comment at a site I wasn’t familiar with. They took out the comment that I was answering so that I could look stupid. That’s neither playing fair, nor is it rational behavior. They did have fun making fun of me. I’m thick skinned, but I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t hurt after awhile, for a hot second.
We have a sidebar called Right Wing Nuts. I’m neither going to defend the name nor attack it. But before we began it, almost time I tried to have a reasoned discussion, I was attacked. My patriotism has been attacked, often, since I began blogging. We never take out or edit comments so that they are more to our liking. It wouldn’t be an accurate record, and it’s cruel.
Guttman goes on:
It is hard to pursue a reasoned debate about the Iraqi war when opponents of the war are accused of treason and the president of the United States is compared to Hitler. Reach across the aisle, pursue collaborative solutions, or explore the shades of gray on any charged issue, and you are likely to be ignored or dismissed as indecisive. That’s if you’re lucky. More likely, you will endure crude and often malicious attacks on your intelligence, faith and patriotism. You may even face death threats.
I haven’t faced death threats but I have faced everything else mentioned. John Kerry weighed every piece of information that was given to him. He tried to understand all sides, and was accused of flip flopping. I should have realized then, that in Bush’s America exploring shades of gray is not only frowned on, but considered unpatriotic.
What makes a person a patriot? Supporting the president blindly seems to go over these days as does supporting a war that most people really don’t understand. Yes I support the service people, and I’m becoming tired of having to say that each time I say something about Iraq. But if I don’t put that in, I get comments saying that I don’t support them.
This past Saturday, almost four years after the attacks on The World Trade Center, there was a funeral for one of the 343 fireman, Keithroy Maynard, killed on 9/11. For almost four years his family clung hoped that they would have more remains to bury. I can’t imagine that much anguish.. I hope that they are comforted in some small way by the knowledge that he was a patriot.
Several weeks ago I saw an ambulance with a dedication. Usually they honor the memory of an individual. This was different.
This is dedicated to every person who responded on September 11, 2001
It made me cry. Most things relating to that day still do. I couldn’t get it out of my head; it wasn’t just honoring the people who died. It was honoring every person who helped. Yes the fire and police people who died were true heroes and patriots. As was every person in both towers. My personal hero/patriot was the man who wouldn’t leave his disabled office mate behind. He knew that he could have lived but he chose to stay so that another person wouldn’t be alone when he died.
I don’t know a person who lives in and/or works in New York City who didn’t try to help that day, and after. Skin color, ethnicity, religion, none of that mattered. We had survived the unthinkable and we were determined to get on with our lives and rebuild downtown.
I consider every person who lives in and/or works in New York City to be a true patriot. We didn’t run the hell out of New York. Most of us stayed. In staying we could say screw you to the terrorists by our actions, not our words. We don’t need to wave a flag to show that we are patriots.
I stayed up all night that night, and looked at all the other lights that were on. I wondered how many people were waiting for somebody to come home. In the clear blue sky of the next day we sat in outdoor cafes as our help wasn’t needed then and talked about what we would do.
Nobody I know seriously considered leaving. We gave blood. Every grocery and drug store had a list of supplies that were needed. We bought them. We tried to help in every possible way.
For a brief moment in time there was a saying: we are all New Yorkers. We finally felt that we were accepted as real Americans. Why had we ever felt that we weren’t real Americans just because we were born, bred and chose to stay in New York? Why do we care?
When I began blogging I was to find out that the attacks might have happened in New York and to New Yorkers, but to many people on the Right , we who live in New York don’t have the proper moral values. 9/11 wasn’t just a horrible terrorist attack by Bin Laden, but an excuse to hate and fight all Muslims. Apparently we in New York didn’t buy into that, and thus according to many Conservative bloggers we became an alien species. We’re not God fearing, or we fear the wrong God, or we read the wrong Bible. It’s very confusing.
In the months following 9/11, I wanted war more than I ever wanted anything in my life. I wanted revenge. But when the war finally came, it wasn’t about 9/11. The Downing Street Memo shows that. I have included a link, and The Bastard put in a special Sunday post about the memo and all the actions being taken including a rally in Washington on June 16.
I will continue to fight against this war, the small minded bigotry I have encountered, and much else. I respect other people’s views; I would like the same courtesy. But because I see in shades of gray rather than in black and white, I do endure crude and often malicious attacks on my intelligence, faith and patriotism.
Fifteen months after 9/11, I went to a wedding. The chuppah (wedding canopy) was an American flag. This was the flag that the bride’s great grandparents hung outside their home during World War Two. They took it down, after the war, when their son came home. The bride had escaped from the North Tower on 9/11. Her parents hung it while they were in limbo, and didn’t know if she was alive or dead. They kept it out until the wedding. That’s a flag worth waving.
Don’t analyze every word that I say and look for signs of mental instability, or extreme left wing radical behavior. I happen to despise people who resort to violence, but that’s never stopped many right wing bloggers from accusing me of wanting violent actions.
If I had to put a label to my politics, I would say that I’m a Howard Dean Democrat. If you want a meaningful dialog, I would be happy to participate. But I’m not going to play nicely with people who see me as a stereotype. I’m no longer going to waste hours of my time trying to rationally answer an irrational comment.
And don’t ever say that I’m not patriotic because I disagree with your stance. Cowards and idiots say things like that, and I have neither the time nor the patience for them.
I’m a divorced, non-Christian, non-God fearing, female New Yorker, and a patriotic American. Have any problems with that?
An aside: I love blogging and have made many great friends. Including a few conservatives. Think blogging’s the biggest innovation in communication since, why, the Internet. It’s transformed my world view. I actually have friends who live in red states.