Thursday, July 9, 2009

Things that make me extraordinarily proud to be an American

Since I'm doing lists, here's another one:

1. Patriot Guard Riders
These are the guys on motorcycles who do counter-protests at funerals and thwart the assholes from the Westboro Basptist Church who scream their "God Hates Fags" and "God Loves IEDs" nonsense. The Riders non-violently stop the Westboro folks from interfering in the funeral and rev their engines to block out their chants. Fantastic.

2. Jackie Robinson

I love this guy. There is something about breaking through the "color barrier," defying a nation of racists because it's the right thing to do, no matter who tells you to sit down. His heroism, his impossible bravery and persistence, and the fact that he was so very, very talented. He was so good you couldn't deny it. It was unassailable... it was just a truth. It all gets to me big time.

3. Louie Armstrong
For exactly the same reason as above.

4. Hot dogs
Yes, they're terrible, but wow - what economy! And perhaps it's here that started the world-crushing trend of making food that doesn't look like it came from an animal. That's power, baby. Now pass the Pepto.

5. Mel Blanc
You heard Mel Blanc all your life, even if you didn't know it. This one man did the voices of: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Beaky Buzzard, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Barney Rubble, Mr. Spacely, and hundreds of others. He was that good. He's like the animators of the 1930's and 40's who did thousands of flawless frames by hand, and created new art forms that still move us today. Have you ever seen Dumbo recently? You might get a little misty...
(BTW, and I'm seeing a pattern in these last few entries. People who are so impossibly good at what they do that it hurts. You have to laugh, really, to let it all sink in. Like Larry David. Or Shakespeare. Or Moliere. I think appreciating true talent and genius is one of the best traits you can have.)

6. The Founding Fucking Fathers, that's who
Growing up, I thought people who really, REALLY loved America were pretty much hicks. What's so special about this place, anyway? As I grew older and did some traveling, and actually paid attention to history articles, I realized that, no, this place is unique, and that's because of the genius of the very dead old white men that are so unpopular nowadays.

First they cast off the shackles of their colonizers and declared themselves free, and set a precedent that the rest of the world followed. But they didn't rest on their laurels, and they didn't the reins to the richest guy, or the guy with the most guns (even though George Washington was a general and all). They went back to the drawing board and created the Bill of Rights.

This was just HUGE. They took the best from the Greeks and Romans, took some Parliamentary stuff from England, used some Judea-Christian values, and mixed it up with Humanist equality and then made up some other stuff (as is my understanding, anyway). And it WORKED. Other countries do indeed envy our "freedoms," although I don't think they hate us for them like some Neocons have said. It's not perfect, but it's tops.

Now let's just get some universal health care, people.


Zeyev said...

Hmmm. I agree.

But I may have added Muhammad Ali for his courage in changing his name, for defying the American government's war machine, and for doing so many things that a man who was "merely" one of the greatest boxers ever should have not had the intelligence or chutzpah to do. Or so people thought.

I may have added the Freedom Riders, those brave people who were so viciously attacked on the streets of the city where I was brought up with the overt collusion of the police. I still cry at the memory of it. And I am not forgetting the contributions of Rosa Parks and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Exposing the violent, racist, anti-American, seditious nature of the American South of that era took more fortitude that I can imagine.

And, ethnic person that I pretend to be, I may have mentioned that Mel Blanc was a Jew.

OK, I would have added at least 4 more folks in my case: my grandparents. I am fortunate that they fled from what today are the countries of Ukraine and Poland to make their lives here. I consider it a privilege for my parents and my siblings and I to have been born in this land, free persons.

Jonathan Rubin said...

Nice list, Warren. There are so many.... I do feel very lucky to live here.

George said...

Why not 'proud to be a human'? Louis and Jackie struggled their whole life against racist beliefs and practices that the founding fathers supported and benefited from.

I'm also not really sure 'It Worked'. The 'rights of property' were explicitly written into the constitution, and you can't deny that the reins are in fact in the hands of the richest guys as a result of this.

Basically I feel that yah, I'm with you guys that LA JR and MA accomplished great things in the face of adversity, but it doesn't make me proud to be an American. The American Gov. and institutional structures are what made things so hard for these guys, who just happened to be in America.

I think we have to be careful not to confuse national pride with admiration for the human spirit in general. We don't as a country, have a copyright on such widely mentioned traits as individualism, entrepreneurship, defiance of authority. In fact I feel all these traits are on the decline.

OK could go on and on.....