Am I proud of America?

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We could see the St. Paul fireworks clearly from our livingroom, plus two more distant fireworks. Very nice. We did not like the two rockets set off in the street next to our building by some idiot, which wizzed up and exploded just above us. Another idiot was continuously yelling, maybe in response to the fireworks, though it sounded as if he were saying, ‘I am here. For God’s sake notice me.’ I like fireworks, though I don’t go out of my way to see them.

The blog Naked Capitalism has a discussion of what it means to be an American posted right now. The responses were all pretty negative. This reminds me of the time I was walking around a lake in Minneapolis, and a group of high school kids with a camera stuck a mike in my face and asked me if I was proud of America. I think that was the wording. I said I liked the landscape and many of the people. I would stick by my response. And while I can feel negative about big corporations and rich people and the current state of the federal government, I still like Joe Hill and Mother Jones, who strike me as very American, though Joe was a Swede. What is more American than the IWW? I like jazz and blues and Utah Phillips. I used to like — and collect — the Folkways recordings of elderly people in Appalachia singing old ballads. I like Minnesota. Even the government is not bad, since it’s controlled by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party at the moment.

I also don’t like the streak of deranged religiousity that goes through much of the country or the racism, which is basic to American culture, I think. That doesn’t mean racism can’t be pushed back and maybe someday ended. But I was trying to stick to things I like. Paul Robeson. Sojourner Truth. I could celebrate the Fourth with fireworks and Robeson singing, “Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel, then why not every man?”

And I do like the landscape.