The following is a commentary in an ongoing series of “Reflections” by John Mill. John Mill is the radio persona of Ronald Bruce Meyer and can be heard on “American Heathen.” The American Heathen” Internet radio broadcast is aired, live, on Friday nights from 7:00pm-10:00pm Central time on ShockNetRadio.com.
Proud to Be an American
A Reflection by Ronald Bruce Meyer
If one more person tells me he’s proud to be an American…
“I’m Proud to Be an American!” sounds really absurd to my ears. If you were born here, like me, how can you be proud of something you didn’t choose and can’t change? That’s like saying “I’m proud to be a man.” And no, I’m not proud of that, either. Just like being an American, I’m not ashamed to be American: I just am American.
So when I hear California-born actress Gwyneth Paltrow apologize for making supposedly anti-American comments in the foreign press – and go so far as to say “I’m proud to be an American” as an apology – I’ve got to ask, that’s not an achievement, like your Oscar for Shakespeare in Love: are you also proud to be a blonde? Oh, right. Paltrow can change that!
OK, so when I hear Lee Greenwood’s 1980s song, with its chorus, “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free,” I have to ask myself, what did he do to be proud of? He was born in California, like Paltrow! Sure, he can feel fortunate that he lives in this country. But proud of it?
I guess I don’t have to point out that the song I’m referring to is called “God Bless the USA.” And that raises the curious juxtaposition of God and country that country singers, and conservatives generally, unthinkingly slap together like peanut butter and jelly on white bread.
God and country? God bless the USA? Christian nation?
“The United States is no more a Christian nation because most of its citizens are Christians than it is a ‘white’ nation because most of its citizens are white. We are Americans not because we practice revealed religion and believe in Bible-based government, but because we practice democracy and believe in republican government.”
That’s a fact. Not something to be proud of, but something that is. I didn’t choose it or achieve it, but I benefit from it and I support it.
Just this year, my lady friend took her test and her oath and now she is a naturalized US citizen. She can be proud to be an American because she chose it; she achieved it. If you were born here, what did you achieve?