jakimfett's lab

bits of code and other random musings

America Was Never Great —

a guest post by Nightingale

It started with a meme on social media:

Maybe instead of teaching our kids to respect flags and anthems,
we should teach them to respect justice and humanity

~ D. Gray Man (@ervin_point), 2016, Twitter

A relative’s comment, and subsequent discussion, prompted this post.

I read your comments about truth, justice, and The American Way™.

I hear your offended outrage that any American would disrespect the flag, the anthem, the pledge, symbols of this Great Nation.

I see you consider this meme to be a false dichotomy, but it is coming from the perspective of recognizing patriotism and national pride as a very harmful set of rose-colored glasses.

Have you ever watched Avatar the Last Airbender?

There is a scene in season three, where Aang (the Avatar) and his group are hiding out in the Fire Nation, the authoritarian empire that has wiped out the Air Nomads and is attempting to conquer the Earth Kingdom and subdue the Water Tribe settlements at the poles.

To blend in with the Fire Nation children, Aang goes to school.

The teacher is telling the students what a glorious country the Fire Nation is, that they are a benevolent, advanced civilization whose intention is to spread their enlightened way of life to all the other nations and help them out of their darkness.

This lecture could have been plucked word for word from my US history class, growing up.

We are taught so young that this country stands for liberty and justice, freedom and democracy, equality and opportunity, and that our interference in world affairs is benevolent, that we are bringing other countries a better way of life.

I cannot emphasize enough how utterly false this image is.

The USA is built on colonialism, imperialism, and oppression.

We tore this land from her indigenous inhabitants through the “Indian Wars,” Manifest Destiny, and the Trail of Tears, and we continue to commit ongoing genocide against First Nations peoples.

We enslaved an entire race of people, committed and allowed countless atrocities to happen to them, and fought a horrifically bloody civil war over the right to continue doing so.

We rounded up thousands of our own citizens and put them in concentration camps during World War II because they looked like our Japanese enemies. (Sound familiar?)

We also set off the atomic bomb that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

We violently colonized Hawaii

…occupied Haiti

violently annexed the Philippines

…controlled Cuba

invaded, conquered, and began the ongoing colonization of Puerto Rico…

…occupied the Dominican Republic

…and colonized still more countries, territories, and cultures.

We politically and economically destabilized, for our own profit, countries such as Yemen


…Iran / Afghanistan / Iraq (2) and other Middle Eastern countries

…the Caribbean

Venezuela (2)…

El Salvador

…other Latin American countries…



…the Congo

…other African countries

…and many more.

The list goes on

…and on

…and on

…and on

…and on

…and on

…and on

…and on

…and on

…and on

…and on

…and on…!

This is why I find patriotism so toxic. The combination of blind loyalty, social propaganda, and nationalism is what has allowed all these atrocities to happen and continue happening. Many people are more offended by criticism of this country’s sins than they are by the horrors that we have committed.

I am unlike those people.
I research.
I educate myself.

I am by no means perfect!
This will be a lifelong endeavor,
one that I am committed to.

I am taking daily action to systematically confront my biases,
untangle my programming,
and see this nation for what it is,
no matter how uncomfortable that truth makes me.

Because only then can I do something about it.

We are the Fire Nation, and we always have been.

Categorised as: Activism | Historical Perspective

Comments are disabled on this post

Comments are closed.