Most good lefties are “beyond borders” in their thinking. They’re citizens of the civilized world who instinctively recoil when they hear the phrase “We’re number one!” (an ESPN barroom American-ism if there ever was one), and who relate as much to Italians and Welsh-people and Argentinians and Qaddafi-hating Libyans and Lithuanians as they would to Middle Americans of any region. They’re not into “American exceptionalism” or anything that smacks of xenophobia of Palinism or Gov. Rick Perry or Arizonian thinking or DuluozGray-ism.
I love American culture in many respects and am very happy I live here as a citizen, but I haven’t felt “patriotic” in ages…please. Okay, I felt a twinge when Bin Laden took a bullet in the face and I felt as shattered as everyone else on 9/11. But I also knew on that day that we’d been anything but innocent lambs, foreign-policy-wise, and that our karma had basically turned around and bitten us in the ass. We’ve been the marauding Romans of our time since the 1950s, and we’re hated worldwide for that. (As well as, okay, envied in a weird sense.) So the idea of compiling a list of “patriotic films” seems kind of odd, but Bilge Ebiri‘s choices are…well, thoughtful. I mean, I’ve never thought of Manhattan as a patriotic film.
I feel proud of the achievements of the great American artists, writers, thinkers and doers. That’s my kind of patriotism. I feel immensely proud that I come from the same country as Mark Twain and Hoyt Wilhelm and Allen Ginsberg and Woody Allen and Walt Whitman and Frank Sinatra. But we’re not the country of George M. Cohan or FDR or George S. Patton or Audie Murphy or Woody Guthrie or Chief Sitting Bull any more. We’ve been taken over by corporations. There’s only the international dominion of dollars. We’re on the way down and everyone knows it, and it’s mainly because of the corporate-fellating right and the Rick Perrys and Sarah Palins and the Tea Party morons who cherish their inalienable right to burn fossil fuels and eat super-fatty foods and own 60″ LED flat-screens more than anything else.
So you can have the Uncle Sam, red-white-and-blue stuff with tanks and soldiers marching down Main Street. In my mind that’s pageant-code for “we’re beyond arrogant and we love it!”
You think Naom Chomsky gets all misty-eyed on the 4th of July?