Sunday, September 9, 2007

JMO - What is patriotism

I was reading an article in a Sunday newspaper magazine - you know like USA Today, Parade, etc. - about country music singers, and the local fan base. In one photo for the article they showed a country music singer wrapped in the "red, white and blue" with an American flag behind him on stage. They spoke about how country music is patriotic. And we all remember the story about the Dixie Chicks experience expressing their view and the reaction of the country musicians and radio stations.

While I may agree with this statement about country music, I disagree that this is the only patriotism. Waving an American flag, showing the colors and talking about their America isn't the only patriotism, in my view, that country music likes to claim it is. This has been a long expressed view going back over 40 years and the hippies of the 1960-70's. Country music hated rock music and especially the musicians, and they really hated that anti-war movement and especially us who expressed our views.

It's ironic country musicians have adopted a lot of the rock culture we expressed back then. Just look at the history of country musicians clothes, speech, songs, etc. But it's also ironic they haven't learned about the first Amendment. They praise God, the flag and the country, but they don't praise civil rights and liberties, except those expressed by people who agree with them or they agree with. They have never learned America is about everyone and everyone's rights. But then I don't ever expect them too either; they just don't get it.

And yes, while I don't listen to the Dixie Chicks routinely - only occasionally -I still like their music as I like most music. I supported then and still support their right to express their opinions. I loved they spoke out and have kept their defiance against the norms country music likes. I've been against the war in Iraq from the time Bush sold it to the nation in his January State of the Union address, especially based on falsehoods and lies. Yup, I'm one of those.

But I'm as patriotic as anyone. How many of the country musicians have served their country? Not that they went to Iraq or Afghanistan to perform, but due the time? If you haven't, why not? If you're so patriotic, serve your country with your time and life for 4-plus years. I did, from 1969 to 1973. And you? And after getting my BA and MS degrees on the GI Bill I spent nearly 28 years with the federal government, serving the public. And you? Oh, I'm sorry, you wanted to make money writing songs and singing. You wanted to be famous, not a good citizen serving your country and its people.

I know this is harsh and unfair, but it's how has country music treated people who they don't like because of their views. Patriotism to me is supporting the Constitution and our freedom to be and say what they want, regardless of our reaction or view. It's not just about tolerance, but about understanding and acceptance. We don't have to agree with others' views, but we're patriotic when we say they have the same rights.

That's what I served my country for then and it's what I stand up for now. It's about an America that honors everyone.

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