8/4/04

Blind Patriots

 

So Iíve been trying to understand why so many people got (and still get) so incredibly mad whenever someone objects to what the administration says, more specifically the president (they like to call him their ďcommander in chiefĒ). For the longest time I couldnít figure it out. Why would disagreeing with authority be labeled as un-American or un-patriotic? Why would someone be ďon their sideĒ for questioning the president?

I donít know a whole lot about the details under which this country (USA) was founded. I know the basics, so if I say anything incorrect or just plain wrong please forgive my ignorance. But, as I understand it, the way it works is that one of the most appealing things about this country is that you have the right (some would say the obligation) to express your opinion no matter what it is. Many countries are jealous and would love to have this (functionally, not just in theory).

So every time I heard the uber-patriots yell in disgust at people who questioned some of the presidentís moves - well, I was confused. They had their little American flags and were somehow under the impression that to be American is to blindly (thatís the best way I can describe it, sorry itís true) support whatever the current authority says and wave a flag around. Of course the obligatory ďbut of course I support the troops.Ē

I think Iíve found a parallel that may help you too understand how their minds are working, because some of you may feel the way I do. Hopefully.

Itís a sports analogy, so many of you should be able to relate. If you follow a specific sports team fervently, then Iím sure youíve gone through what Iím about to explain. I am a huge Cubs fan. I follow them fanatically (jokers would say religiously, the irony of it all) and my humor has been known to fluctuate proportionally to how the Cubs do. And itís happened many times -especially during particularly stressful times of the season, like the playoffs- when a player or manager says something to the press that is going to cause a distraction to the team. Keep them from winning the games that are so urgently needed to be won. It happens every year in baseball. During the playoffs someone will bring up their contract status, hint that they arenít happy, complain about another player, etc. And I know many other fans that have reacted in the exact same way as I have.

Picture it, itís game three of the World Series and your team is down two games to none. You need to focus and win the next game or else itís pretty much all done. You open up the paper only to read that your star shortstop feels like he hasnít been treated properly the whole season and that he would prefer to hit 4th instead of his usual 3rd in the lineup.

Me: ďWHY ARE YOU SAYING THIS NOW???? COULDNíT YOU HAVE PLEASE WAITED UNTIL THIS IS ALL OVER? FOCUS ON WINNING RIGHT NOW, SHUT UP!!!Ē

And thatís when it hit me, ďthatís awfully similar to what the blind patriots are saying to people like me when we discuss our differing opinions on what the US government is doing in the world today.

And I thought, ďhmm.Ē

And I think itís a valid comparison except for the almighty Ďbutí that has to be inserted in there somewhere. A major league baseball team isnít a democracy composed of all of itís fans. It wasnít founded on that. Plus, itís only a game of little consequence (except for some key economic things that have little to do with these complaints). A country and war is a whole different deal.

I understand the whole idea of backing your team to the end. We have to win, itís my team, Iím backing them until the end. I get it. But you have to have a line. A line that - once crossed- you stop and say, ďOk thatís enough.Ē If you donít have that line then you are a tool that gets used for other peopleís ends. If you have that line than I should hope that you see itís been crossed. If not, what are you waiting for?

Yes, Go team and all that. But I have no problem criticizing my team when itís doing wrong, no matter what the circumstances are. Why? Because this is for real, this isnít a game. People are dying here. Wake up and smell the blood. This is the real deal. Put your flags down and use your brains for a second. Thatís what this country was founded on.

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