Love it or leave it: The nationalistic zeal for America


In America, we have always liked to paint all our issues as black and white. We create false dichotomies that prevent us from seeing the actions of our country and the people that represent it as nuanced.

Earlier this week, Seth Rogen tweeted that the recent movie “American Sniper” had reminded him of the Nazi propaganda film at the end of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”

As was probably to be expected, this statement caused a lot of controversy. The anger had nothing to do with defending the movie, but instead focused on how “un-American” Rogen’s statements were.

The propaganda film in question is titled “Stolz der Nation (Nation’s Pride),” and depicts a German sniper killing Allied soldiers from a clock tower. “American Sniper,” tells the story of former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who is the most lethal sniper in U.S. History.

While I haven’t seen “American Sniper,” I have heard that its depiction of Kyle is respectful and shows how his work affected his psyche.

However, that’s not what the critics of Rogen’s statements (which have nothing bad to say about Chris Kyle or the U.S. Military) are arguing. They are arguing that saying anything bad about a U.S. soldier, even one who has 160 confirmed kills and claims in his own biography that he “never once fought for the Iraqis. I could give a flying (expletive, not deleted in the book) about them,” is anti-American, and that you need to show respect for all of the actions of the U.S. military.

It is this kind of thinking that has driven the American democracy down, as fewer people realize there are positions between the two extremes.

I can’t question the actions of the military without being anti-American. I can’t question events like the My Lai Massacre, in which U.S. Army soldiers killed between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in Vietnam, with virtually no punishment. I am barely allowed to question the Haditha Killings, in which U.S. Marines killed 24 civilians in 2006. Questioning these atrocities would be “un-American.”

There is a similar situation with the police in this country. If I question the actions taken by a police officer, and whether or not they are allowed to use lethal force in a given situation, I am immediately branded as a cop hater.

If there’s anything that can be considered un-American, it’s unwavering support of America. Being blind to your country’s problems doesn’t help it grow and become better, it causes it to fall behind and remain stymied by the problems that it so obviously has.

The Founding Fathers didn’t hate government, they hated government that had no responsibility to the people. They created a government in which we can call into question the actions that our country takes, and subsequently punish the government for said actions.

This zeal for all things representing American freedom that threatens freedom everyday. The desire to remain in the status quo, whether created by ignorance or hate, is the driving force that keeps America from becoming a better country. This desire is even being profited off of by corporations who claim they wish to go back to a simpler time (see the McDonald’s “Signs” commercial).

Blindfolded ignorance does nothing for America, except prevent it from becoming a better country. The more you defend America as representing a particular ideology, the more you undermine what made America different — and that’s its lack of an ideology that allows it to better mold to the ideology of its people.

Alex Bertsch is the Opinion Editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].