One more rumination on patriotism. This one was set off by this column I read after the US election. In it, one Mike Thompson spells out a modest proposal he has. He wants to expel from the United States those systematically troublesome states that constitute a cancer that continues to threaten our body politic and are trending rapidly toward anti-American, if not outright subversive, behavior.
The twelve states, he means, that voted for Kerry.
Now if we're talking about subversive behaviour, it seems to me hard to find a better example of it than proposing to dismember your country, to expel half its population. But let's leave that discussion for another day. What I find amusing -- except that this guy is so serious -- is his easy assumption of patriotism and anti-nationalism. You don't agree with me -- in this case, because you didn't vote for the guy I voted for -- so you're anti-American. So I want to push you out of my country.
What is it about patriotism that stimulates such easy equations? Such empty vapidities as "my country right or wrong" or "love your country or leave it"? After all, Mike Thompson's thoughts tell me, in no vague terms, that he certainly does not love his country as it is today. Quite the contrary: he wants to rip whole sections of it out! By his own logic therefore, should he not be on the next boat leaving, preferably one with oars that he has to row himself?
Yet this is the singular characteristic of all dudes who want it easily assumed that they are patriots -- they believe they can pronounce who else is a traitor. And that's invariably the guys they disagree with. I remember always what one Lalji Tandon, BJP leader, said after India's 1998 nuclear explosions: Everybody who opposed or criticized the nuclear tests conducted by India was in fact a traitor.
Our homegrown Mike Thompson, the honourable Lalji.
And of course, some of you will remember the same honourable Lalji's more recent claim to fame: his birthday party last April in which his supporters flung saris into a crowd of 5000 destitute women crammed into a small park. Yes, this is what this patriot thought of these 5000 humans -- they are poor, so I'll celebrate my birthday by throwing saris at them.
The result: a stampede that left 21 of my fellow Indians dead.
But how dare I criticize the man? He's patriotic enough to tell me I'm a traitor!
More reasons patriotism makes me sick. The patriotism sported by the Thompsons and Laljis, at any rate.
Finally, there's one more amusing -- this time, really amusing -- link on Mike Thompson's page. It's titled "Patriotic Products." Naturally, I clicked. That took me here.
Here is a sample of the fine products you can buy off this page, though please stop wondering how many of them are made in China:
* 1984 Reagan/Bush campaign poster
* Bush-Cheney '04 cap
* Republican "Party Animal" Christmas ornament
* George W Bush Christmas ornament
* 2005 Republican Freedom calendar
* Ronald Reagan, Ann Coulter, Don Rumsfeld, George W Bush talking action figures. Four -- count 'em, four -- different George W Bush talking action figures.
and (drum roll please) this final patriotic product:
* talking action figures replacement batteries.
Note that patriotism, as represented on this page, is firmly Republican. Note too that patriotism, as also represented on this page, evidently needs replacement batteries.