Sunday, July 04, 2010
July 4th and Sunday Morning Media
Up early and doing a morning round of the news sites, I've been struck with the fact most of them are running wounded soldier stories on the front page. This put me in the position of confronting my own jingoistic expectations.
Because I am a patriotic American and I want, when I wake up on July 4th, to read on the front pages things that make me proud to be an American and glad to be free of the British. The latter isn't a high priority for our media over here, as 98% of BBC television programming has been doing just fine in that department for years. For every "Monty Python" there are 100 "East Enders". Also, they eat fried blood for breakfast. Snog on that.
I want pro-American fluff this morning. Not even fluff, just mild propaganda. Eagles and fire trucks in bunting. Pictures of families pretending to get along at barbecues in backyards we won't mention are in foreclosure. Profiles of the Founders that sidestep the whole landed gentry slave owner thing. In fact, I'd be okay with placing friendly, professional, pepper-spray-toting guards on Noam Chomsky's door today, at least until around 5pm. (The Zinn household, sadly, may be skipped, this year and forward). That's how ripe for jingoism I am.
But the press let me down today. If anyone was wondering if patriotism had been redefined in this country, turned into a brand so it might do what brands do, serve a master, well, look at what the media believes will make us proud to be Americans.
Wounded soldiers do not make me proud. They should be proud of their service, but I'm not proud of it. Humbled by it, moved by it, yes. Not proud. And that's a shame, because if I was, I'd be in the middle of a great run, the longest war in our young history! Suck it, Orwell, you were right, and guess what, it's awesome, and fulfilling, and imbues life with meaning and you were wrong. But I'm not. Because any country can produce wounded soldiers, and most do. Hey, if looking at wounded soldiers makes you beam with national pride, pack your bags, 'cause you're gonna love the Democratic Republic of the Congo! If we were able to figure out a way to get our foreign policy done without wounding our soldiers, that would be something to crow about.
Don't get me wrong, I am proud of our military in general. I listen to a lot of public radio talk shows while in the shop, chock full of professors, authors, filmakers and the usual Liberal Elite. The most well spoken, composed guests are always young officers from our military. And I'm proud of the way the soldiers comport themselves in ridiculous positions we put them in. The sacrifices our military make are so important, they have their own holiday, a couple, actually. This isn't one of them. Yet, being patriotic in this country has been reduced, on purpose, by a small political elite, to a precious few notes, one of which is Military Worship. Because the act of bowing toward this idol is uncomfortable for the press, we don't see the honest version they do in other countries. Putting convoys of tanks and skies black with Apache helicopters would be too much, and produce angry feedback. But who can complain about stories of brave soldiers with missing limbs? Go with that. The result is flag-draped Amputee Porn. We are not a great country because we have done this to our youth, we are a great country in spite of it.
And we are a great country, and that's what I want to see this morning. I want to see things that make me proud to be an American. Selfish, I know, but true. And it should be easy! There are countless, countless things, beginning with the land itself. At least one channel should just show nothing but HD flyovers of the different geography of the country, all day. I'm proud of that. Which is odd, maybe, but true. That's a no-brainer. Another no-brainer? The world was a hair's breadth away from Nazi domination. We stopped that.
I'm proud of the social progress this country has made in recent history. Of how we don't hide behind "cultural integrity" like they do in Europe and face our problems regarding race and immigration head on and in the open. I'm proud of the good we do around the world.
I'm proud of a lot of things, and those are what I want to see. My personal propaganda wish list.