Friday, May 06, 2011

Heap of America

I attended this patrioticpalooza because Will asked me to. I've lived it vicariously in the past, listening to the songs at the school level and on the practice CD at home, but I've never actually descended into the belly of the whore before.
It was so much worse than I'd imagined.
Will is the star in the middle.
There was a drum line made of green men. There was an MC who looked like a Barnum & Bailey ringmaster. I was afraid it would be a lot of neener-neener-neener patriotism of the chest-beating face-painting sport-spectating variety.
It was all that and more.
At one point they gave the microphone to an athlete ("Why do they do that?" my S-I-L asked? "Why do we think they'll have something intelligent to say?"). So the athlete said "I've worked with people from a hundred different countries and NONE of them love their country as much as we love America."
Ummmmmm, could we get a judge's ruling on that?!
I wish it had been the gong show and a gigantic cane had come out of the Marriott Center doors and yanked him offstage. I wish that thousands of hands had covered the ears of the kids listening to his brainless blather. I wish I'd had a humungous overripe heirloom tomato to lob at his face.
But I didn't, so I stuck my fingers in my ears and read another chapter of my [excellent] novel. I watched the kids don sunglasses and sing and sway. I actually liked the song about the Declaration of Independence and the one about the Bill of Rights. Between those two and the preamble of the Constitution from America Rock you would have some knowledgeable kids (someone needs to write an aria for the Gettysburg Address too).
In fact, the kids themselves were cute and charming and I was glad that I could watch Will singing and flapping and dancing in every number. The entre-acts were another story. These are "Shirley's Golden Girls" but I called them "The Glittering Grannies".
It isn't that I don't love America. Let's be clear. It's that I love America too much to hoot and holler at a bunch of octogenarians shimmying in their sequins and call it patriotism. It's that the feeling there wasn't patriotism at all, but rather arrogance, and as some have said, arrogance is the art of being proud of one's ignorance.
If you believe that the USA is a great country, you should become knowledgeable about it. You should participate and vote and you should also understand how it differs from other countries by seeing them in their own context. If you do I guarantee that you'll find things to praise and adore about other countries and you'll be more gracious about your good fortune to live in the US. You might even understand why other people would sacrifice a homeland they love to come here.
Here is Shirley herself, who is in her mid-nineties now. After the grand finale with flashlights, there was a mass exodus. Pretty soon I was left alone with the souvenirs of a proud and patriotic citizenry: spilled popcorn, cardboard cups, and nacho plates.
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Jessica said...

So many comments. First, what book were you reading? Second, BWAhahahaha! Third, can I please please quote you the next time someone tries to pass of nationalism as patriotism (and wants to browbeat me into participating in it)?

Mary Ann said...

I was reading the Cookbook Collector and I think you would like it too. It has a slow start but a strong finish and it is set in Berkeley, Boston, and Silicon Valley.