Ahh Motherland!

Ahh Motherland!

Ahh Motherland!

I must have been listening to a story on public radio when I began to think about this. I don’t know if it’s worth anything, but munch on this.

We, the citizens of the United States of America, have stolen the idea of defending our country from countries that actually have to defend their countries. I suggest that the rhetoric of “defending” is more appropriately applied to countries’ whose soil has been invaded. In this definition, the American Revolution is the only instance in which America has truly defended herself. Yet, we continue to employ this rhetoric and romanticized notion of defense, this idea that our fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters are bred with a patriotism that would seek to die in defense of all things American.

Is this an example of neo-colonoialism, neo-imperialism? Are we yet again re-appropriating what is not ours to claim as our own? It is rather odd if you consider the idea. We employ the rhetoric of defense which is stolen from countries America has often pressed to use. I think immediately of Vietnam and of Laos, and then of Iraq. In each country, America claimed to be defending democracy, if not the homeland. And in each country, the native constituents were defending their country as well. I suppose I argue that they more deservedly own the rhetoric of defense than America, and that America ought to drop further use of “defending America”.

If this is, in fact, a thievery of such rhetoric, I then ask, “Of what gain or use?” If my arguments and thoughts stand, then it is a very subtle and overlooked vice of American “virtue”. We steal and we don’t even know it. We are blind thieves, stealing as if it were ubiquitous and justified.

  1. In regards to the question, “of what gain or use?” I say ‘maintenance’. Paul W. Kahn in his monograph “Sacred Violence” says that the modern nation-state was conceived out of violence (French and American Revolution) and will inevitably be maintained through violence. This violence that is reminiscent of ancient animal sacrifices in order to obtain transcendent blessing on the monarch is now comparable to the nation-state sacrificing its own citizens in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ (of which we employ transcendent language). For me violence is integral to the identity of the modern-nation state (the fact that most European countries have shifted to a more post-modern policy I believe is evident in their reluctancy to join US in the M.E. after 9/11) and so to call it ‘defense’ gathers support and sympathy (at least understanding)… Quite possibly language stolen from other true defenders as you suggest!

    • Indeed a plausible synthesis of our thoughts! It makes a lot of sense that “defense rhetoric” could be used for the nation-state’s “maintenance”.

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