What is it about America that makes you proud and why would you think that’s racist?

The following bit of idiocy has shown up on my Facebook wall twice now and it has annoyed me to the point of insomnia. So here I am, awake at 1AM when I should be asleep, writing a blog post about it because I’m not dressed enough to vlog it. 

Also, not sure I could vlog about it without losing my temper.

Wait, what?

The second person to have shared this is a family member, I won’t say whom, that I normally would assume would see the flaw in that statement. Being the sort of person I am, I couldn’t let it pass by without commenting on it. My reply in both cases was: “America isn’t a race so it’s not a racist statement to make. Unless what you really mean is that you’re proud to be a “White American” which is what a LOT of people mean when they say this. In which case, yes, it’s racist as fuck.”

A few hours later I saw I had a notification of a reply to my comment. It was from a friend of my relative who tried to keep her comment simple. It read: “Les Jenkins see shut up”

My, but what a compelling counter-argument that is. This reply to me is what has me so annoyed that I’m up at a ridiculous hour in the morning typing away at my keyboard when I should be asleep. Hell, if the original message had simply read “I’m proud to be an American, share this if you agree” then I’d probably would’ve let it pass without saying anything. The addition of the “they are scared to be called a racist” bit is just baffling when you take the statement at face value. The only people who could possibly be worried someone would see that statement as racist is someone who actually meant “proud to be a white American”, which is exactly the unspoken intention many on the Far Right mean when they say it.

For whatever reason when I woke up around 12:30AM to use the bathroom, my thoughts while sitting in the dark came back to this post and the barely coherent reply to my comment I got. The more I thought about it the more questions I had. Questions like:

What, exactly, makes you proud to be an American?

Is it that you were lucky enough by random chance to be born here? Is it that we have the largest military? Is it our economy? Our criminal justice system? Our legislative system? What, exactly, is it that you think is worthy of pride for the simple status as a citizen of this country?

Is it the self-aggrandizing, narcissistic, callow former reality-show host of a President that makes you proud to be an American? Because, honestly, I find that to be a bit of an embarassment. We’ve put an inept, self-absorbed ass in the White House whose biggest motivation is cultivating unwarranted praise and some of us are gleeful about the damage he’s doing. That’s nothing to be proud of.

Is it our policy of family separation of migrants looking for asylum that you’re proud of? We pulled upwards of 12,000 kids 18 and under — 2,400 of which are 12-years-old and younger — from their parents and put them in cages. We then did a piss-poor job of reuniting them with their parents even after a court order to do so. We still haven’t completed the task in spite of being well past the 30 day deadline. Some of them may never be reunited having been sent into the foster/adoption system where the government lost track of them. 

Are you proud of how our current Administration has managed to alienate long-standing allies? How about the trade wars that are causing everyone from Harley Davidson and GM to America’s soybean farmers having to make hard decisions about what to build where or, in the case of the farmers, allowing their crops to rot in the fields because the countries that used to buy them have slapped them with high tariffs in retaliation?  The trade wars have impacted our farmers so much that Trump has promised to bail them out with taxpayer money when they could’ve just made money by selling their products as they had been. How is that something to be proud of?

Maybe you’re proud of how out of the 35 major countries that comprise the OECD, we rank 32nd in the mortality rate of children under-5 years old? Only Chile, Turkey, and Mexico are below us.  In the CIA’s list of 223 nations our under-5 mortality rate puts us at the 56th spot. Fucking Cuba is in the 43rd spot. 

Maybe you’re proud because of the rampant wealth inequality in this country which was only made worse with the massive Trump tax cuts that were passed in the last year? The tax cuts that were supposed to “pay for themselves” and result in “higher employee wages” and which haven’t done either thing, but has exploded the deficit to record levels which the Republicans are now trying to use as an excuse to cut Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security. I suppose if you’re part of the 1% that might be reason to be proud to be an American. That’s assuming you pay much in taxes in the first place.

Perhaps you’re proud of how we’re ignoring the growing climate crisis and the resulting shitty world it’s going to leave for your children and grandchildren once you’ve kicked the bucket? Hell, we’re not just ignoring it, we’re actively rolling back policies that would help to mitigate it while trying to hide or destroy any science that suggests it’s an actual problem. But at least you won’t have to drive one of those sissy Prius cars, am I right?  

Personally, I love my country, but I’m not very proud of it most of the time as of late. The above are just a few of the reasons why. None of the above is anything to be proud of. 

9 thoughts on “What is it about America that makes you proud and why would you think that’s racist?

  1. I have to agree. At 83 I wonder what in the hell is going on. What happened to caring about others. Stopping to reason with those who’s only advantage is to yell louder, think stupid but pretend to be smart, and try to scare you into things that you know are wrong. Give up the shit and try understanding others for a change PLEASE!

  2. There are a couple of older renditions of this meme. The oldest says the following:

    “I’m proud to be white” I bet no one passes this on because they are scared of be (sic) called a racist.

    Then I found one from October that looked a lot closer to your example:

    “I’m proud to be an American” I bet no one passes this on because they are scared to be racist. Stop hyphenated Americans!

    On the second one here, it does say “scared to be a racist”. That wasn’t a typo.

    My friends wonder why I’ve moved to Canada.

  3. Stu, I would be flattered. I don’t put all those share buttons on each post because I want to keep my opinions to myself. 🙂

  4. There is nothing to add to this , this is how other nations are viewing America at this time in history . The rest of the free world also want America to be great again but also great in integrity , fairness and honesty , maybe America has not fully lived up to these standards in the past but it has been head and shoulders above Russia and China , the line between these nations is now looking a bit blurred.

  5. Could be proud of what America has the potential of being. If the people still had the greater amount of power and we had all the freedoms we claim we do.

  6. When I think of why I’m proud of America, it’s mostly for things in the past and far receding nowadays. I’m proud of “Yankee ingenuity”, which is not quite dead yet. I’m proud of how the Marshall Plan helped get Europe back on its feet (that’s pretty dated I know). I’m proud of how the Richmond School District dealt with MLK’s assassination by requiring black and white high school students to visit one another’s homes and talk about race.

    The current US administration is an aberration, I hope, and not a harbinger of things to come.

  7. Les,
    thank you for staying up after a bathroom run to share your thoughts about this nauseating facebook post. I agree with you on every point. A friend from high school posted this on FB, and I’m tempted to post a link to your articulate response in the comments, but people who can’t be bothered to perform any critical analysis on a short sentence or two are DEFINITELY not going to read through multiple paragraphs.

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