Watching the British Olympic opening ceremony, and the reaction from the Brits to it (pretty universally enthusiastic), I wondered if Americans would react to something similar if we put it on. I mean, in particular, all the political stuff about providing national health care, social democracy, and equal rights. I’m guessing most Americans would, or at least they’d be quiet in their disapproval. After all, as I mentioned in an earlier post, there were lots of images in these games that seem to have gone without public attack, and yet are widely disapproved of by wide swaths of Americans, with regards to race, sexuality, gender, and inequality. For every gratuitous claim on behalf of Republican America (like the comments about Grenada and Reagan), there were lots of visuals tacitly embracing features of American life that many Americans claim to oppose (like diversity!!).
But this got me to thinking about the Right wing under Obama. From proclaiming early in his presidency that they want him to lose (and thus being willing to vote ‘no’ on everything he proposes in order to help bring it about), to failing to congratulate him for being a war leader and bin laden killer, to continuing to deny his birthright legitimacy, to often seemingly disrespecting the office of the Presidency (see, both this great article by Charles P. Pierce on this issue, and most recently Congressman Joe Walsh calling the President “son”) because they simply don’t regard him as a legitimate President–and why don’t they regard him as legitimate? At the least, it is not because he’s accused of not winning.
All this, then, begs the question: Is the Far Right not nationalistic and patriotic about America? By raising this question, I’m not suggesting, a) that the Far Left or Middle Middle is any different; or b) that anyone “should” be nationalistic (I personally subscribe to the idea that once you are an American, you have a right to oppose your nation’s judgment when you want. I know I’ve opposed lots of things that the nation has seemingly proclaimed “pro-American”. For that matter, even if you aren’t an American, feel free to non-violently oppose anything you wish).
But with the Far Right, these are fighting words. Because aren’t they supposedly the most “nationalist” of all? You can’t watch FOX News without seeing the American flag, and they further complained that Gabby Douglas wasn’t pro-American enough because she wore pink! (Although, after writing the “!”, part of me thinks–yeah, why not wear red, white, and blue in the Olympics? Same with a lot of professional teams–where do they get off switching colors on us, like Arsenal wearing blue and the Warriors wearing orange and now the Nets switching to Black and White. Clearly, I’m a bit of a Tea-Partier when it comes to uniform colors.)
So, the Far Right can’t have it both ways. Either you’re nationalistic, which means you support the nation over all else, which probably means you’d follow its constitutionally prescribed rules of how “the nation” speaks. And that means, giving President Obama the respect deserving of the nation’s leader. Or, the Far Right is just Far Right and should stop attacking everyone else for their lack of patriotism (as they perceive it).
I know this is all pretty damn obvious, but it’s a question that might be asked of, say, Michelle Bachmann, and all the other Tea Party-Birthers. Pick one side and stick with it.
Oh, and since we–as a nation–not only definitively celebrate Jesse Owens for standing up to Hitler’s Olympics (how many times have we all proudly watched this clip–I know they showed it more than once during this year’s Olympics), we also applaud ourselves for being on the same side as Owens in the fight for equality over racism and fascism, it’s interesting to note his own reaction at the time to how he was treated by Americans upon his return. There was a ticker-tape parade in New York City, but elsewhere, it wasn’t so good. In fact, he pointed out that President Franklin Roosevelt never congratulated him or invited him to the White House: ‘Hitler didn’t snub me – it was FDR who snubbed me.’)