Hostile Patriotism

I’ve been closely analyzing the news for many years now. I noticed a sharp change in the discourse since Barack Obama was elected in 2008. I’ve been told I’m wrong in this assessment, that Obama has received a fair share of balanced challenge, just as any other president has received. I don’t buy it, as Obama’s presidency seems to have inspired a more antagonistic brand of rhetoric, with more and more citizens using inflammatory claims to justify their opposition to what they must see as the degradation of America. I admit that I have gotten used to it, to some degree, but I cannot help but notice a continuing trend where hostility is used more and more under the veil of patriotic expression. Three items in the news this week confirm this analysis. My knee-jerk reaction to this trend continues to be “What the hell is wrong with people?”

Rush Limbaugh, whose mission statement has to include some credo in which offending as many people as possible generates gobs of cash for himself, continues to instigate this hostile patriotism. Hundreds of schoolgirls were kidnapped by an extremist group in Nigeria, which inspired a Twitter hashtag campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, to bring awareness of an atrocity and hopefully instigate global action to bring these kidnapped girls back to the families of Nigeria. Michelle Obama decided to participate, and Limbaugh mocked her and the entire movement by calling it “pathetic.” The conservative news machine followed Limbaugh’s lead, and pegged the movement as worthless: Boko Haram is not interested in reading Twitter feeds (Talk radio and 24-hour news networks are the only effective media tools for fighting terrorism and injustice, apparently). Activism was dismissed as self-soothing by the likes of Sean Hannity and George Will. The First Lady was belittled successfully, and memes of Michelle Obama holding altered signs with “witty” anti-Obama jargon can now be found all about the internet. Congratulations, Rush Limbaugh, for inspiring opposition to a humanitarian cause, to fulfill your own self-aggrandizing, hateful campaign.

Karl Rove suggested Hillary Clinton might have suffered traumatic brain injury, and then denied stating it once the media caught wind of the speech. We are assured, however, that if Hillary Clinton runs for President, that statements like this will be fair game. There are no lengths to which Republicans will reach to humiliate and degrade Ms. Clinton, if she decides to run. Hostility is the preferred method for patriotic opposition by the Republican Party, after all. Karl Rove and the rest of the conservative media just want Hillary Clinton to understand what she is in for…suggesting brain damage and calling her mental facilities into question might just be the tip of the iceberg. Maybe, Rove was just seeing what he could get away with prior to the 2016 smear campaign.

I was made aware of this final news item by a Facebook friend (thank you, Dr. Jerry Holt…I am concerned as you’ve been “sigh”-ing more than usual lately). This drew my ire to extraordinary levels as I am still confused as to why some Americans think it is right to attack the parents and family members of the children and teachers killed at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. A so-called “truther” stole a commemorative sign at a playground, honoring Grace McDonnell, one of the young daughters who was killed at Sandy Hook. This truther then had the audacity to contact McDonnell’s mother to explain how the massacre did not happen and her daughter never existed. I might assume that most people would understand my fury, but I still remember how some of these family members were publicly heckled multiple times within the months that followed the shooting. I simply cannot comprehend how American citizens can accost other citizens that have experienced such a traumatic loss. My assumed definition of American patriotism would be to honor and respect these family members, but I have been disappointed by this unduly-utilized form of hostile patriotism, one in which a citizen’s love of guns overrules any sensitivity towards these victims of horrific tragedy. I suppose I erroneously ascribe to the Christian ethos of “love thy neighbor,” as I have been told America is a Christian nation.

When did “American” become synonymous with “asshole?” I fear that the answer to my question might involve origins that predate my birth. I might suggest that mass media has allowed for rampant acceleration of this hostile patriotism. It has enabled self-identified patriots to engage with the public using aggressive rhetoric and entitled hostility…and it only grows worse with each passing day.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

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