“I love the place I live, but I hate the people in charge.” Immortal Technique
I love this country. That’s not something I say a whole lot, and which you might be surprised to hear if you regularly read what I write, or pay attention when I wax on a related topic in your presence. But I do. There’s a lot of beauty and good stuff in the United States. There are good things and good people. That I recognize and address that there is also a terrible amount of badness and ugliness and horrible people in this country today and throughout its history doesn’t mean that I don’t still love it. Quite the opposite. And ultimately, I can’t name a demonstrably better place that I’d definitely rather live.
Most countries, I truthfully don’t want to live in, and am glad I don’t. Though if I were born into another nation, I’d probably feel the same way I do about the US; I’d have some inborn love and, I guess, loyalty to the place, but in all likelihood I’d hate my government and its actions. I don’t even have to live in, say, England, Russia, Israel, or China to hate their governments and the harmful actions they commit against their own citizens or those of other nations, or the world itself. But I’m not as invested, because my knowledge is less comprehensive and my experience remote. It’s because I know more about the US, that I live here, that I have a more vested interest in what happens to this country or what its representatives do in its name that I care and criticize more.
Much as I despise jingoism and faux shows of patriotism, I don’t have a problem with saying I love my country. What I have a problem with are the crimes and atrocities committed by the powerful in this country in its name, in all our names, and with the jingoists and faux patriots who beat the drum and cheer them on. I hate lies and hypocrisy.
I can love my country while hating the people that lead it. It’s because I love it, and frankly don’t love or particularly want to live any other place that I criticize the things that were done here, the things that were done in its name by those in power, and the romanticizations and straight up lies told about it. We humans, with our love for the familiar, the comfortable, we almost can’t help but form habitual fondnesses, love, for wherever we’re born and what we know. But thanks to the things I know, I can’t pretend the place I was born in is a paradise, a fair and blameless actor in world affairs, or a mythical bastion of freedom, democracy, and justice, when there exists so much evidence to the contrary.
This is a nation which began with invasion and genocide, and that built its wealth and international prominence through slavery. It is a nation that would not exist without those historic evils. It is a nation which, despite championing itself as a good and noble nation, ruled by justice and democracy, by the people, has habitually acted directly counter to these principles for the advantage of its privileged classes at the grievous disadvantage of others. I hate our history of evil, of violence, oppression, and inequity. I hate the people who perpetrated these evils, and who continue to do so.
That doesn’t mean I hate the country. It means I want the place I love to actually be the country it pretends to be.
If this country was ever truly under threat, in a real war, I would fight for it. Clearly, I don’t mean in any of the string of bullshit wars that our leaders have thrown us into for many decades. I will not go to another country, and kill other people in their country. Ever. Unless they were actual Nazis bent on world domination, no interest, none of my business. I have zero desire to fight people in their native land so that the wealthy and privileged of my land can exploit them and their lands to reap profit.
If the military of a foreign nation ever invaded this country, I’d oppose them. If they occupied my city, I’d join the neighborhood militia, pick up an assault rifle and get on with some guerilla shit. I don’t want to be in a war. I don’t want to kill anyone. But if war ever actually came to us, I’d kill for my home, my family, my friends. I don’t expect that you, or the people of any country, are all that different. It’s absurd the way that government and military officials label any oppositional forces in a country they’ve invaded as being enemy combatants or terrorists. If an invading army came to my neighborhood, dropping bombs, shooting up houses, kicking in doors, I’m pretty sure I’d resist. I’d be an enemy combatant. I’d be a terrorist. What’s the alternative? No disrespect to the soldiers ordered into these situations in other countries, but honestly, what would you do if someone did the same in your home?
I hate the political and corporate elite of this country, and I bet the civilians of any nation we stir up conflicts with feel the same about their own government and oligarchs. Let everyone live, and love the place they live, and keep your wars the fuck out.