I wasn’t going to write about the whole Ted Nugent thing. I think it’s been discussed widely enough as it is. By now, I figured, everyone must be sick of hearing about it already.
But after hearing his comments being replayed, over and over, on various news programs, I started to get a bit aggravated.
And then I got indignant.
And then, the more I thought about what he’d said, I found myself at a point which I could not even describe to you if I tried. It’s a point where all manner of feelings started coming to the surface – anger, disgust, incredulousness.
Above all of these things, one emotion in particular rose up with a surprising clarity and fierceness. I realized that what I felt, more strongly than anything else, was a sense of patriotism.
Ted Nugent considers himself a patriot. Most of the right-wing conservatives in the US identify themselves in the same way. They have positioned themselves as a group that wants to “take back” America. That sort of sentiment is all over Ted Nugent’s recent comments:
“If you can’t go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil America-hating administration, I don’t even know what you’re made out of…We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. ”
All I can think about crap like this is, how dare he? How dare any of them? To characterize our president, his administration, and all those who support them as the enemies of America – how dare they?
Let’s get one thing straight, right here and now. When guys like Nugent go out and run their mouths like this, they’re not being “patriotic”. Patriotism is love of country. It is defending and supporting your country above anything else. What Nugent and his ilk are really doing is betraying their country and pledging their allegiance to a political ideology instead. And they are willing to undermine the state of our union in order to promote purely political goals. That is not something to be proud of. It is distinctly anti-American, and it is nothing short of a disgrace.
“My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy.” – Thomas Jefferson (from a letter to James Monroe, 1785)
Ted Nugent lives in a country where he is free to own, carry and use a pile of different weapons, which he genuinely does not need to have or to use. Ted Nugent lives in a country where he is free to practice any religion he wants, or no religion at all if he so desires, and he need not fear being persecuted, imprisoned, tortured or killed for doing so. Ted Nugent lives in a country where he can say incredibly ignorant and hateful things, and be protected by the Constitution. Ted Nugent lives in a country where there are certain standards of pay and protection expected for workers, where people cannot be asked to work for 60 hours a week for virtually no pay at all, and where children go to school and not to work in a sweatshop. Ted Nugent lives in a country where there is a free and open internet, where newspapers and other publications cannot be controlled or shut down by the government for simply publishing criticism or dissent, and where a conservative propaganda machine like Fox News is allowed free reign to spout its bullshit to anyone foolish enough to listen. Ted Nugent lives in a country where there is at least some concern over the safety of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food and products we manufacture and consume. Ted Nugent lives in a country where we have a well-funded military, and a Commander-in-Chief who makes utilizing those military forces to effectively fight terrorism a priority. Ted Nugent lives in a country where he and his children will never be kidnapped and pressed into army service by a military regime or a rebel militia. Ted Nugent lives in a country where it is highly unlikely he will die of malaria, tuberculosis, starvation or drought-induced thirst. Ted Nugent lives in a country where there are still – yes, even with things the way they are, STILL – so many opportunities for education, for adventure, for achievement, for success.
Ted Nugent lives in the greatest fucking country in the world, and when he says the shit he says, it’s clear that he has no idea how goddamned lucky he really is. If he can genuinely look at the Obama administration, and see anything that truly makes him compare the state of our country to any number of other impoverished, unstable, unsafe or miserable nations out there in the rest of the world, he is one seriously ignorant and delusional individual.
And that goes for all those right-wing extremists, who dare to wrap themselves up in the flag while trashing the very nation they supposedly love so much.
Yes, there are many different political ideologies out there. Yes, they do clash from time to time. And, yes, the balance of power does shift between those ideologies on a regular basis. But that is why this country is so great. Our government is not a totalitarian establishment. It is not a dictatorship. It is not a place where power is taken through genocide or through family inheritance. It is a place where anyone may stand for election, where anyone may support the candidate of their choice, where anyone can be involved in the political process in some way. But what Americans may not do is unilaterally decide that only one party has the right to govern, and that any opposing party must be considered an enemy to be wiped out.
The way it works is that we vote whenever we have the opportunity to vote. In between elections, we stay informed and aware. We stay active. We volunteer, we donate time, money or talent, we write letters to our local paper, we talk to friends and neighbors. We can express dissent when we feel things are wrong. We can choose any number of ways to advance the causes we believe in. And we try to ensure that the government we have is the type of government we want to have.
What we do not do, if we truly love our country, is act like America is less important than the specific politicians or parties we support. We do not work against the best interests of the nation we love. We do not act like ungrateful, spoiled brats who have the best deal going, but throw a tantrum anyway because it’s not just exactly the way we want it to be.
As much as I hate to admit it, those of us on the left are part of the problem. We’ve allowed these Tea Party, NRA, “guns & Bibles” bullies to claim patriotism as their own. We have been more reluctant to wave the flag, or to express our love for our country, than our conservative counterparts have been. We’ve been too wrapped up in criticizing them for doing these types of things, without stopping to realize that we should be doing them too. Being liberal or progressive is often looked upon as being “un-American”, and we should not allow people to get away with that characterization.
Those on the left need to start making the connection between the things they feel and the love they have for America. The way we see things is rooted in a desire to make this country better, and not to further divide it or weaken it. It’s time we made that crystal clear to people like Ted Nugent, and anyone else who actively works against the best interests of this great nation with their words and actions. We need to start reclaiming the idea of patriotism. It’s our turn to talk about taking our country back.