Bashing US on Its Birthday

You would imagine that on July 4th, and possibly September 11th, that our nation could come together, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya.  Just one or two days out of the year where we try not to politicize things.  We already know that we can’t hold it together and behave during national times of crisis without pointing fingers.  But maybe, just maybe on our nation’s birthday, at least, we could try to get along.  You’d imagine that… but you’d be wrong.

Earlier today, I saw a post that somebody linked to entitled A Real Independence Day: Debunking The GOP’s American Exceptionalism.  From viewing the awkward title, I could tell that there was going to be some “Republican Hating” in the post, but I wasn’t ready for the amount of “America Hating” that I found.

I’m going to be honest with you… The author, the website, and the post are all full of fail, so I’m just going to dive into this one.  I’ve started things out with a screenshot of the post in question, and I’ve numbered some of these “fails” that we’re going to cover.

There really is nothing exceptionally good about this country?

Number 1: The flag is upside down?  Really???  I am familiar with the concept flying the colors upside down in a “time of distress”, but the author’s disliking for Republicans does NOT constitute the type of distress he may have been going for.  Below is a diagram from USHistory.org illustrating how the author’s use of the “upside down” flag, is indeed, a violation of U.S. Flag Code.  I suspect the author was trying to be “edgy” in his use of this graphic, but ultimately he was disrespectful.  As a U.S. veteran, I was instantly polarized by the image of the “upside down flag” when visiting his site.

Number 2: The aforementioned author goes by the monicker “Rmuse”.  Below is Rmuse’s bio from PoliticusUSA.com.  I’ll let you form your opinion of Mr. Muse without my input.

Number 3: The Author, Rmuse, ends his first paragraph with this statement:

However, a brief perusal of the state of the nation reveals that America is exceptional, but only for having the greatest military in the world; otherwise, there really is nothing exceptionally good about this country.

Now… I may be in the minority, but I find that statement to be insensitive and insulting, especially when made on THE 4th OF JULY.

Number 4: Speaking of July 4th, note that this is exactly when the author posted this piece.  One can assume that an article posted on Independence Day and featuring an upside-down U.S. flag which also says “…there really is nothing exceptionally good about this country” is an article that intends to antagonize a certain audience.  And I assume that millions of Americans (if they saw this website) would, indeed, be antagonized.

That covers “fails” from the screenshot, but there are other “fails” to address, so let’s get back to work…

Evidence:
One glaring “fail” in this piece is a failure to present compelling evidence.  Rmuse repeatedly asserts that the U.S. is NOT an exceptional nation, and he tries to reinforce his claim with various hyperlinks.  Hyperlinks are often used by an author when they would like to use an outside source to verify their claims.  Rmuse used nine such links in his article.  Of those nine links, however, six of them were pictures of a bar graph.  And I mean they were JUST PICTURES OF A BAR GRAPH.  One such link is below:

America is so exceptional, that nearly 9% of the population is homeless and a large percentage are war veterans.

Go ahead and click the link in that quote.  What you see above is an actual excerpt from Rmuse’s article.  He claims that nearly 9% of the population is homeless, and that a large percentage of that is war veterans.  That’s a pretty big claim.  And it may even be true, but in NO WAY is that link a credible piece of evidence.

A GRAPH IS NOT EVIDENCE.  Anyone can make a graph and insert it into their post, but inserting a graph in your post does not count as evidence.  It’s just a graph.  I can make a graph showing that Rmuse is dumber than 90% of Americans, but that would not be evidence.  It would just be an insult linked to a graph.

By using PICTURES OF BAR GRAPHS as his “evidence”, Rmuse greatly reduces the credibility of his claims.  And keep in mind that 6/9 of his claims are backed by these pictures of graphs.

Of the three remaining links that Rmuse used, TWO of them were the SAME link to a Huffington Post article.  The last link (the one about fireworks) was to some kind of website that claims to be “an outdoor recreation resource for hikers”.

As a general rule, when you’re going to post an inflammatory article that makes damning accusations, it is a good idea to have evidence that compels the audience.  In this case, I truly think Rmuse comes up short.

Philosophy:
I’ve combined two more quotes from A Real Independence Day: Debunking The GOP’s American Exceptionalism. (the piece we’ve been talking about this whole time)

“The list of reasons to be ashamed of America goes on indefinitely and is incredibly depressing for reasonable, decent human beings.  …This author is profoundly ashamed of America and wonders why Republicans and social conservatives are allowed to devastate what was once a decent country with impunity; especially when we could be so exceptional for all the right reasons.   -Rmuse”

I just don’t share this philosophy with Mr. Muse.  And to be honest with you, it has little to do with ideological reasoning.  I mean, sure, you can imagine that as someone who has worn the uniform and served this country, my level of pride for this nation will be somewhat different than Rmuse’s.  But… it’s deeper than that.

He’s constantly angry with “Republican” problems and influences in this country, and he uses that anger as an excuse to not be proud of our country.  (I’ve put “Republican” in quotes, bc I truly don’t believe that every problem he identifies as a “Republican” problem has really been caused by the Republicans)

The funny thing is that if you go to a predominantly Republican website, I’m sure you’ll see that they are constantly angry with “Democrat” problems and influences in this country too.

Based on Rmuse’s logic, people on the Republican website should, therefore, not be proud of their country for the things that Democrats have done.  If everybody in America adopted this philosophy, we would be screwed.  This idea of being ashamed of your country in a wholesale fashion just because it’s been influenced by the “other” party is madness, and I don’t endorse it when EITHER side does it.

On the subject of philosophy and being proud of something (or someone) despite disappointment, I would like to proffer this:

I have read that President Barack Obama’s father was a bigamous, adulterous drunk who lost both of his legs in a drunk driving accident.  I have read that he abandoned Barack when he was a toddler.  And when he went back to Africa, he fathered multiple children with multiple women and beat some of his wives.  Now somehow, despite all of that, our president has forgiven his father to such an extent that he wrote a book lionizing him.

I would like to think that if Barack Obama could forgive that man who caused so much pain for so many people over a radius of so many thousands of miles, then maybe Rmuse could find it in his heart to forgive this country that has honestly not done very much to hurt him at all.

Now I could be wrong.  Maybe America HAS hurt Rmuse.  Maybe America has wronged Rmuse in ways that I am yet to understand.  And if it has, then I will gladly listen to his story and respond to it on this site.  But until then, I can only imagine that America has done less to harm Rmuse than Barack Obama’s father did to harm him.

Conclusion:
For a long time now, we have seen anonymous bloggers make damning accusations with little evidence, and yet these accusations eventually become a consensus.  This is how we end up with memes.  Rmuse’s article barely has enough actual evidence to prop up an empty cereal box, but there are people who accept it as wholehearted fact.  (read the comments at the end of his article)

One of the reasons we can’t have an honest debate in this country is that we have SO MANY FALSE CONSENSUSES.  And to be honest with you, I’m going to spend this election cycle stamping a lot of them out.  What earned Rmuse the distinction of being the first example is that he trashed my country on the 4th of July.  He clearly did this for a response, and a response is what he got.