As tears filled my eyes watching the opening pomp of the Super Bowl, it occurred to me just how manipulative these displays really are. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with evoking heady emotions of fealty, even before a game of sport that will eventually leave some of its players suffering lifelong disabilities, the fact is, our innate compulsion to choose sides, whether football teams or the current trend towards nationalism, is eminently exploitable.
As cults go, patriotism is perhaps the most useful of all. It rallies troops in time of war, unites us in times of crisis, and gives us pride in our global identity. But our identity is different than most other countries in that our forefathers so recently usurped this land from its native inhabitants. And though some of us can trace our lineage to the first settlers, most arrived well after, and some against their will. There is no doubt, however, that our diversity helped make this experiment in nation building a successful one.
So, in absence of uniting ethnicity, exactly what is love of country, and why are our young still asked each morning to pledge their allegiance to the land within the boundaries of our nation?
A decent person doesn't need a flag stuck in the front yard as a reminder to abide by laws and conventions of society. And surely no reasonably competent person would sit idly by while his home, family, and way of life were detrimentally influenced by a foreign power, aid in the destruction of our values and principles, or seek to deny fellow citizens their basic human rights out of selfishness or ignorance. Would they? I don't consider myself a "flag waver" nor do I consider my country of birth superior to all others in every way, but I do care deeply about those of us who would be exploited in the name of tribal patriotism that would rationalize those things.
"Without borders, we don't have a country.. I say shut it down."
Threatening to shut the government down and "them against us" propaganda was Trump's tactic again today, both for getting his wall and for furthering his administration's agenda of control through the compliance and persuasion of cult-like nationalism.
Of course it's not surprising Trump has made patriotism the central theme for controlling his weak-minded followers. Dictators do it all the time.