Sunday, July 4, 2010

Objective Praise for America!

Given the generally bizarre standards of patriotism in this country (where a flag lapel pin can make the difference between acceptable and traitorous), I refuse to praise my country with irrational superlatives that reflect subjective standards and a slavish lack of critical thought.  Instead, I offer purely objective praise, from the bottom of my heart:

America, you're pretty darn good!  Good enough to produce me, at any rate.  I mean, physically you've got it going on, apart from those places we ruined with heavy industry.  Fortunately, you can't build factories on snow-capped mountains*, so until global warming heats up in earnest, you can count on the Rockies as your saving grace.


You've got some tasty cuisine, too.  A lot of people don't give you real credit for your cuisine.  They think it's all cheeseburgers and fries.  Well, to be perfectly honest, there are an awful lot of cheeseburgers and fries.  But remember clam chowder, and eggs benedict, and beef jerky, and gumbo, and Maine lobster?  You made those things!  Or, at least you made them popular, which is still quite the accomplishment.  And when you're really trying, you can make other countries' cuisines pretty well, too.  See what you can do when you try, America?

And hey, you're pretty tech savvy, America.  I won't say you're number one, because I'm convinced that Japan has some wicked giant robots hidden somewhere, but you're definitely up there.  But even with all that technological prowess, you still rely on outmoded forms of energy production, like coal and oil and the internal combustion engine.  Kind of lazy, considering how much grief you'd have saved yourself with a massive investment in solar and other forms of power decades back.  I'm sure you'll get there, though.  If there's one thing that'll always be there for us, it's the sun!

You're also a mostly-free country.  Yeah, I know, "mostly" is somewhat faint praise.  But America, let's face facts!  You have the highest per capita prison population in the world!  No matter what the freedoms that non-incarcerated people enjoy, how can you be the free-est country in the world when such a huge slice of your population is plainly not free?  Something's up with that, America.  Maybe you need to reevaluate your general freedom policy, rather than simply take for granted that you're a free country just because you kicked out a few monarchs.

Anyway, you are mostly free.  I mean, if I wanted to, I could walk downtown and shout about how much I looooove Nazis, and nobody would arrest me for my views!  Instead, they'd arrest me for disturbing the peace, and society would scowl at me and systematically limit my participation in civic life.  Because, you know, pluralism and all.

But it'd be unrealistic to expect you to be much freer than that.  I wouldn't want people to have the freedom to pee on my door, and I'm happy you've deprived people of that freedom.  Maybe that's selfish of me?  I just don't want to have to deal with pee on my door, is all.  That's why we have the social contract.

I would like you to stop listening in on my long-distance calls to Tikrit, though.  Can't a man talk to Tikritis anymore without someone making a secret federal case about it?

You're also pretty rich, America.  Hard times or no, on the whole you do pretty well among nations!  But come to think of it, is that really something to be proud of?  Not to be a nag, but Jesus said it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.  Now, certain talk show hosts seem to think we're already in heaven*, but let's be reasonable: any place that has this high a concentration of Jonas Brothers can't be heaven.  If you want to get to the REAL promised land, America, you're going to have to think of some better ways to dispose of the billions earned on Wall Street than just using them to make more billions.  Or killing foreigners.

*Then why do they always seem so cranky?

Let's see, you've had social security for a while; that's pretty good.  And I hear you recently passed health care reform!  Clearly, at least half of your heart is in the right place.  Or, it's in the right place sometimes.  The point is, your heart's got potential.  I think it can be said that you have the ability to do the world a great deal of good, and most of the time you seem to want to.  That puts some solid goals in sight, doesn't it?  You've just got to find the right motivation.

Finally, America, I'm happy to see how considerably less crazy you've gotten over the centuries.  Remember when you had those two founding documents, the one that said all men are created equal, and the other that said that a black person was equal to three fifths of a white person for the purposes of determining congressional representation?  Remember how you seemed to believe both of those things at the same time?  That's some crazy shit right there.  I'm not saying you're a model of mental stability nowadays*, but hey, you've got a black President now.  You even let him have the full five fifths of Presidential power, so I guess you've been making some real improvements!  I'm so proud of you, America.

*I mean, for God's sake.

So there you have it, America: objective praise, from the bottom of my red white and mostly blue heart.  Keep up the good work; virtue is its own reward, for nations as much as individuals.  Happy Independence Day!