Are you pfucking serious?

21 10 2008

When I was in the sixth grade I pointed out that there needn’t just be a religious reason to abstain from saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

I told my teacher that as the Pledge was written in 1892, in America, there was no reason to assume that those who said it thought that it applied to people who looked like me seeing as how people who looked like me had only recently been freed from physical chains. I pointed out that in 1892 the country was still rebuilding itself and that one of the funnest ways, it seemed, for the country to rebuild itself was to create laws specifically designed to keep the newly freed people from having dignity, self-respect or a voice. I pointed out that, “one Nation under God” is some pretty tough shit to swallow for people who had had their gods, their language and culture and their families forcibly ripped from them and that “freedom and justice for all” seemed to mean “freedom and justice for all of us, not ya’ll.”

I was, even as a child, cautious about sheepyness of America that wraps itself up in the cloak of “patriotism.” I considered this my greatest American right. I considered myself quite the good American.

When I was in the 9th grade we read Democracy in America and Thomas Paine. We were asked to think about what the duty of political efficacy meant to us. We were taught that many of those who made America great were dissenters and that we should know that America is ours for the making as long as we were willing to raise our voices.

After high school I left my small town with white picket fences and American flags on every other door to come to New York City. Here I see flags of all different kinds and, in Brooklyn, unexpected but wonderfully welcome, picket fences. I see Fourth of July barbecues. I rejoice with co-workers about husbands becoming citizens. I look around my neighborhood and I see the excitement of first time voters. In New York City you can expect a protest if we don’t like you and a parade if we do. You can also expect that these events will happen simultaneously. I live in, what I thought, was the best part of America that she has to offer. I live where all of the jigsaw pieces meet flush and strangely bed-fellowed to make the beautiful picture of our country.

I guess I was wrong. It appears that, not only am I not a real American, I also don’t live in “Real America.”

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What I love is that you can see how pissed off, but mostly, I think, hurt John Stewart is. And I understand.

I was here, in New York City, downtown the Financial District watching pieces of smoking flaming paper drift down outside the windows of my office on September 11th while “Real America” was waking up from its slumber.
I was walking ankle deep in dust along the length of the island, passing closed McDonald’s and Starbucks and Gaps and bodega after bodega, trying to find a pay phone because all of the cell lines were down only to realize that I didn’t have any change.
I remember having to negotiate with an armed National Guardsman to get below 14th Street to my friend’s apartment because I didn’t have New York ID and they couldn’t verify that I was who I said I was while “Real America” was watching news coverage over dinner.
I went back to work. I did not spend. I went back to work. Every single day, until I was fired, in the Financial District where business men wore masks and fear to work. I got up, got dressed and got on the train and emerged every single day to dust and smoke and more armed Guardsmen and the smell while “Real America” was just trying to get on with its life in its nice small town.
And even when I forced to leave the City for a small time because I lost my job and there WERE no jobs in the City because the whole world had melted down I came back as soon as I could.
I watched kids enroll in the military “to fight.” I saw them come home in caskets on the news.
There’s still a big gaping hole in my fucking city where the citizens of “Real America” like to go and snap pictures.

So yeah.
What is it that doesn’t make me part of “Real America” again?

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That’s right. I forgot.

Anyhoodle, thank god for John Stewart for saying it best:

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And that’s why I’m voting for him to be President of the United States of Fake America on November eleventyith.

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3 responses

31 10 2008
jack

Ridiculous admission: I always get a little bit jealous of people who stopped saying the Pledge at an earlier age than me. I didn’t clue in until sometime in high school, at which point I also stopped saying the morning prayers (I went to Catholic school, K-12.) Of course, I still stood when everyone else did – too scared not to. To this day, I get really, really anxious when I stay sitting for the national anthem at sporting events and everyone else stands around me.

ANYWAY – thank you for a great post. And glad to see you blogging. 🙂

2 11 2008
Baby Power Dyke

@ Jack.

Oh, I still stand. I respect the right of others to say it and their right to believe in it. It is a wonderful idea and I’ve recently learned that the gentleman who wrote it was a pastor who 1. did not include “Under God” in the original and 2. wanted to include something to the effect of all men being created equal but knew that the pledge would be rejected if that was included.
Also, there’s a lot to be said for the peer pressure of a packed Yankee Stadium. 😉

12 09 2009
September 12th « Journal of a Power Dyke in Training

[…] 2006 * 2008 […]

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