Sometimes, I wonder if you can eventually knock loud enough on the doors of the souls of some conservatives to finally get them to open up just a little and let even a tiny piece of truth and beauty in. Kleinheider, for instance, is so smart and articulate and funny. I just can’t help but believe that if he’s challenged enough on his stupidness that he will eventually let go of it.
Yes, I know that’s patronizing, but there you go. I’m not liberal for nothing. I do know what’s best for some of you better than you do and, in Kleinheider’s case, what’s best for him is to learn to be open to really viewing women as autonomous beings. This is better for him in many ways, not the least of which is that the quality of women willing to invite him into their cooters will improve.
This post, however, is not about Kleinheider.
It’s about Nathan Moore.
Let us go visit his post about my list of things I think you need to have some knowledge of in order to be a good American and let the refuting begin.
It’s also telling that Vietnam is listed in B’s list, at the expense apparently of any required knowledge of World War II or the Cold War. I must question the decision that the historical aberration trumps the historically established trend.
Telling? Probably not as telling as you think, Mr. Moore. I’d argue that the groups of people who ought to have working knowledge of World War II or the Cold War goes beyond Americans, hence the reason I didn’t include them. I was talking about specifically American things that have had a specific influence on what makes us uniquely American. World War II is an event shared by a lot of countries. Understanding it is not a uniquely American imperative.
Perhaps one could argue that the Cold War was a uniquely American phenomenon, as it certainly has influenced our willingness to believe that the military-industrial complex’s concerns ought to dictate America’s concerns, even at the expense of our Constitutional rights. If any of us might secretly be commies, by god, we’d better start chucking whole chunks of the Bill of Rights out the window as fast as we can. We can’t be armed; we can’t speak our minds; we can’t keep the government out of our homes; we can’t expect a trial of a jury of our peers; because the government can’t be sure we won’t use those things against it.
But, I think that understanding the Cold War would be hand in hand with understanding Viet Nam, anyway. And how can you turn on your TV and see the news about Iraq and think that having an understanding of Viet Nam isn’t critical to understanding what it means to be an American?
Because, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Mr. Moore, but we have this asinine idea that one can go to war with no goals except to fight an ideology. We think we can prevent the spread of an ideology by shooting at the people who have it. As if that’s going to keep other people from taking up that ideology.
And we’ve seen repeatedly that non-traditional wars don’t work–that you can’t fight ideologies or behaviors with the military (or the militarization of the police). And yet, we still have seen our War on Communism, the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, the War on Terrorism, none of which have actually gotten rid of the ideology or behavior*, but instead just served to make Americans used to having the government monitor every aspect of their lives.
Seriously, if you conservatives don’t look at the Bill of Rights and look at America today and feel a little sick to your stomaches, I don’t even know how to talk to you.
Further, the preference for poets is a bit unnecessary. I think you can be a fine citizen if you weren’t terribly informed about a collection of socialists who possessed the ability to rhyme.
No you can’t. I’m sorry. You just can’t.
Because, if you don’t understand that "America" is not just a place on a map, but a collection of hopes and dreams for how things might be better or different than they were back in the old country or under those other forms of government, that "American" is not an ethnic identity but an identity made out of a shared belief in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, if you don’t understand that each of us has the right and the obligation to share in defining what America is and what it means to be an American, then you really don’t deserve to call yourself one.
And if you think that you have to be a lawyer or a politician to "earn" the right to dream about America and how it is and what it can be and to help implement that, then I feel bad for you.
Being an American is not about knowing the right names and dates and wars and laws. It’s about participating in a grand experiment and sharing an idea that people ought to have as much control over their own destinies as possible.
That’s why Whitman and Thoreau and Twain and Morganfield etc. are so important. They will tell you to your face that this is a country full of great promise that doesn’t always live up to it, but when it does, God Damn. Our poets hold us accountable to our immense promise as a nation and remind us that we each have a voice that matters.
From where else but from Whitman and Thoreau, I ask you Mr. Moore, do you think you inherited this idea that you, an ordinary American just like anyone else, had something to say that was worth being said?
*"Perhaps you didn’t notice, Aunt B., but the only people left who are communist are the Cubans." Yeah, we’ll see about that in 50 or 100 years. All ideas get recycled.