Today is Independence Day here in the United States, or as it's more often referred to, the 4th of July. We celebrate with cookouts, fireworks and parades. Flags are flown on front porches, up and down Main Streets, in front of businesses. Facebook and Twitter feeds feature patriotic quotes and pictures. It's a day for Americans to remember our origins, count our blessings and show pride in our nation.
But something has been bothering me lately. In recent years I've been hearing a lot of comments like these:
"Liberals hate America."Today on Twitter I've seen conservatives implying or outright claiming that they are the only ones who love America. In a way, they've co-opted the holiday - and patriotism - for themselves. Or tried to, anyway. Sadly, our nation has become one of division, misunderstandings, judgements and strife. Neighbors, friends and, most sadly, family members have become caught up in a war of words. Words like "patriotic" and "freedom" are bandied about in ways which serve to divide rather than unite.
"Liberals aren't real Americans."
"Only conservatives can be true patriots."
"Take America back from the liberals."
I make no apologies for my liberal/progressive political views. I was raised in a very conservative home and voted Republican for over 20 years. My husband and I served as co-chairs of our county Republican party and were delegates to our state convention several times. My current ideology is the result of long and serious study, as well as much soul-searching. I'm sure many of my conservative friends would say the same regarding their political views. I would like to think everyone puts a lot of thought into something so important.
So let me just say this - I resent the very notion that patriotism and love of country belong solely to conservatives. It angers me that many of the far right, "don't tread on me" folks have attempted to co-opt patriotism and even our flag for themselves. I'm not one to wear clothing festooned with the American flag but if I were I wouldn't feel I could do so without wondering if I were portraying an ideology to which I do not subscribe. And that's not fair.
My great-great-great grandfather came to America as a young teenager. He had stowed away on a clipper ship sailing from England. He eventually ended up in Oklahoma, or actually, Indian Territory as it wasn't a state yet and married a Choctaw woman. I'm proud of my heritage and love my country.
I understand that conservatives have a different vision of America and what makes her great. That's perfectly fine but my vision is valid, too. That freedom they talk about so much belongs, in equal measure, to those of us whose hierarchy of values doesn't always line up with theirs. I sometimes wonder if, despite reverence for our founding fathers, some have forgotten that those men didn't agree on everything, either. There were some bitter battles waged over what form our baby nation's government would take. Even a cursory reading of some of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers will make that obvious. And yet we consider those men...all of them...worthy of great respect.
Respect. That's really what it all boils down to, doesn't it? We may disagree about, well, almost everything about how to run a country but we should be able to do so without name-calling (I swear, if one more person refers to me a Libtard I'm going to lose my sh*t). But please, can we just agree that the party listed on our voter registration card has nothing to do with how much we love our country?
In our own ways we are all just looking for America...
*Adorable photo at the top of this post was taken by my friend, Johnna Compton. Many thanks for permission to use it.