Saturday, August 19, 2006

"Why Do You Hate America?"

I am getting so sick of this quote being used whenever you disagree with the current administration and its backers.
"Why do you hate America?"
"Do you want our troops to die?"
"Freedom isn't free."
The list goes on and on.
Look, I hate writing about politics. I REALLY hate it, but this trip has found me having to defend myself left and right.
As I mentioned before, my father-in-law watches Fox News for hours on end. I don't care that he does, but after a while, you get sick of hearing wild speculation about rapists, war, and more. During every segment, there was someone who disagreed with the host, and one of those questions was asked. "Why do you want America to be attacked again," was my favorite when the guest talked about how ridiculous flying regulations had become.
During my first clinical at the high school I now teach at, I met a kid who was from a poor family and struggled to graduate. He did graduate, but felt he had no other choice but to go into the Marines. Well, long story short, I recently heard from his mother that he lost his legs. It's devestating as he truly enjoyed playing basketball.
Now last night my in-laws invited their high school friends to come over and meet Poozer as well as see Mrs. Leab, who most of them haven't seen since our wedding.
Suffice to say, I was not allowed to hang out with the gals, because, well, I'm a guy. They horded my son as well, so I was supposed to spend my time with the guys.
As a side note, the gals really didn't like me, with one of them going on to tell my wife that maybe she, "could have married a nice guy from Missouri?" You can tell that she and I didn't really get along.
Off with the guys I went, but that didn't go so well either. Maybe it's because I'm a great deal more mature than these 50 year old guys. At one point the guys started discussing breasts. All of them married their high school sweethearts almost right out of high school. These were the first, and in some cases only, women they had snookered. That's not a bad thing, but my father-in-law, thanks to wife once telling him due to drunken idiocy, knew that I had been with other women, including my Ex.
"What's it like to be with gal with huge boobs?" he asked.
"Yeah," his buddy added," did you bury your head in them and have lunch?"
"It was fine. They were breasts," I replied. "I don't really think about it."
This led to me being viciously teased.
"Come on! What are you gay?" One of his friends asks me through his drunken slur.
I let the question sink in for a minute to see if he can figure out why it doesn't make sense.
Ten seconds later: "Well...are you?"
"Umm...I'm HIS daughter...and I'm here with my SON. Does that sound like someone who's gay?"
"You don't have to be so defensive."
At this point, my father-in-law makes it clear to me that "the guys" want to be alone to discuss a hunting trip they're planning. So, I can't hang with the guys, and I'm not allowed near the girls.
I went and read. The only interruption was when I was asked to change my son and discuss the classes I teach. My tactics had one of the women telling me that she would sue me for, "mental anguish."
"You can't baby the kids forever. The real world isn't as forgiving as high school," I explained.
"But YOU don't need to teach the kids that," she replies.
"Who will? You? Your husband? How will these kids learn that you WILL fail if you don't try?"
"When they get older...."
I gave up. I didn't want to argue, which my wife was thankful for.
Now to the point. Everyone came back together for the final part of the party. A friend of my F-I-L brought up the war and started talking about the "whiny liberals who are against it," and how they are, "destroying America."
I admit that this is my fault, but in the few days I have been here, I have been bombarded with uninformed right wing opinions. Regardless of whether or not you are a Democrat, a Republican, a Liberal, a Conservative, or something else (and there are major differences among all of them), you need to be informed. I'm so sick of people just taking the spoon fed bullshit from the news stations or any part of the media and just repeating it without thinking about it. I was tired, angry, and feeling upset about this student. I made the mistake and engaged.
"They aren't the only ones hurting America. Uninformed know-it-all pundits are also a problem."
"What did you say?" (we'll call him) Aaron replied.
"Look, Liberals, Conservatives, pundits...they all shoot the shit and attempt to say things to rally their side and anger the other side. It's a giant game. They couldn't care less about the troops, just making sure that THEIR side is right."
"Well...why do you hate our troops, son? Don't you know that this kind of thinking is dangerous for them?"
"This is the bullshit I'm talking about. If I said, 'I think Bush was wrong,' then I'll be asked why, 'I hate America,' by someone. I don't hate America, and I don't hate our troops. I think they've been given a shitty setup. America's deal in Iraq is like the guy who gets the girl pregnant on prom night: You shouldn't have been fucking in the first place, but now you have to do the right thing."
After a stunned silence, one of the gals asked me, "What's the right thing?"
"Either pay for the abortion or help the girl give birth."
This brought horror to the entire crowd.
"People like you are the reason our troops are getting killed in Iraq..." started Aaron.
"Why? Am I the one shooting at them? Look, I got an email today about a kid I taught and how he lost his legs over there. He shouldn't have been over there, but he was, and he got hurt. His life is probably over as his family doesn't have the money to go get prosthetics. It sucks."
I took a breath and then continued.
"And why is it if I question authority or thinking that I hate the country or hate the troops? This country was founded on someone questioning the way things were run."
"That was different," I am told
"The terrorists are WINNING! People are afraid of other people who aren't white. We can't take anythingn on planes, and we're afraid to fly. We're even tapping our own phones."
I argued for a few more minutes until my wife grabbed my arm and excused us.
"Stop," she says to me when we get to our room. "Just stop."
"No. I did nothing wrong. I'm tired of hearing this. My family has been ragged on, my thoughts have been shot down, and I have been ostracized from both groups tonight. I can play the game, but not when I have to talk about boobs or hold my tongue about how happy the troops are to be in Iraq.",
We "discussed" things for a few more minutes. I apologized to my wife, but there was no way I would to anyone else. When we returned, the party was breaking up. People were going home. No one shook my hand, no one saiad goodnight to me. My Mother-In-Law was obviously still mortified with me as she couldn't look me in the eye.
Again, I don't think I did anything really wrong, but I had to apologize to everyone today, per my wife's instructions.
This is a difficult trip. I don't have the energy to take care of my son, and keep myself in check.
Even worse? My wife and her mom have been talking about us moving down here.
The Universe hates me.
Then again, what do I know? I apparently hate America. I could be wrong.
I'm really hoping to write about something a little more uplifting soon.


Arthur Willoughby said...

"My wife and her mom have been talking about us moving down here."

Why? For Christ's sake, why? Just so mom can be closer to her grandchild? Great reason to leave a place like the Twin Cities for a backwards town like K.C.

Good Lord, Leab. What a nightmare. I know what it's like to be surrounded by people who think differently than you do. Of course, you and I are largely on different sides of the aisle.

That doesn't mean I agree with or can even tolerate kneejerk questioning of patriotism when a person dares voice a contrary opinion.

My favorite is Shaun Hannity. His fallback argument is exactly what you said: Why do you hate America? Why do you hate our troops?

Why do you hate CONVERSATION, Shaun?

Blind patriotism is more frightening to me than ill-informed protest. At least the latter can be mended through persuasion and information.

Come home.

Dennis said...

First:Once a Marine, always a Marine, they do not abandon each other. This marine you know who lost his legs will be taken care of, it's not like the Military is just going to drop him off at his Moms house and say "cya". There are many organizations that are willing to help him after he is processed out, hell, he might even be allowed to stay in, it has happened. But ultimately it depends upon the individual willingness to pick himself up and carry on with life.
Second: There are people that DO hate America that live in this country. There are people who hate and loathe the Military, They hate what this Country stands for and they want us to be humiliated. These people do need to be called out, why should only people who protest this war be heard, why can they not be questioned? Sure there are pundits who do go over the top, but wether they are Conservative or Liberal, they are pasionate in what they believe and it their passion will always be challenged. Its when we are not free to question is when i will start to worry.
Third: I spent a good number of years questioning this government and what the United States stands for. After spending 6 years in the Navy changed This is the greatest Country in the World and the pewople who live here or wish to come here to live make it that way, no matter their beliefs, If you feel strongly one way or another, its up to you to support your side of the argument. I don't think your questioning this Marines decision or this Countries decisions recently are wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but so far ehis Country has been right for 200+ years, so I'll trust its course.

Joshua said...

This past year and a half of living overseas has been an incredible awakening for my American opinions...

I'm no longer spoon fed one side of the news story, I don't have to be bombarded by uninformed coworkers and casual friends who believe everything they see on the TV, and I don't have to hold my tongue when criticizing the current administration.

Republican, Democrat, Black, or White - everyone should be able to see something is terribly wrong with our country.

Until people start changing their own lives (consume less energy, avoid massive chain stores and shop in their local towns, analyze and interpret the news instead of swallowing the reporters opinions, etc) NOTHING will turn around.

Nobody is accountable, nobody cares, and the ones who want change aren't about to modify their lives to help the Cause (Yes, capital C - the free, unoppressed, at least somewhat transparent gov't we used to support).

Conspiracies aren't a bad thing! Discussing a conspiracy or a theory somehow makes someone a fanatic.

We need to change. We need to educate. We need to cut down on video games and MySpace. We need to eat more vegetables and less candy bars!

While living outside the US, I'm not surrounded by drones created by Fox News just because they like the flashy music and spinning graphics.

Incidentally, I heard 5 minutes of last week - they were comparing the New York Times to Al-Jazeera because they released conspiracy story about wire tapping! NYTimes is not a 'terrorist-friendly' organization just because they did their duty for once.

[End Rant]

Leab said...

I do not deny that there are people who hate this country. However, there is a difference between saying: "I hate America," and "I don't agree with the President's decision."
To paraphrase Worm, Blind patriotism is a dangerous thing.
I appreciate that the troops have protected us from the dangers, but I am also wary of how our country is functioning right now.
Fear is rampant. As long as we live in fear, life is not ok.
When I was in Germany a few years back, I watched as two gentlemen on German television debated Americia's involvement with Iraq. That was truly fair and balanced. Neither one questioned faith, patriotism, or stance. They merely debated the facts.
I want that here. I'm tired of beinig told that I hate the troops if I say they need more armor. How the hell does that mean I hate the troops? I want them safer.
The world is a vampire. The world is a vampire.

Dennis said...

To disagree is your right, but like my decision to support the President, i have to back it up and fight for it too. This is not one sided. You have every right in this Country to speak you mind, but the rest of us don't have to agree with what you say. This is where the problem lies, you have both sides saying if you don't agree with us, you are against this Country. An example of this is the recent ousting of Joe Lieberman by his party. once ole Joe lost, his Party, the party he had been loyal to for years, except for his support of the war, told ole joe to "suck it". I've been in your shoes many times by supporting a few controversial subjects and I found out who my friends were. Hell, I pissed off everyone I worked with because i didn't agree with them. But I do agree with you on the source being the nonstop opinions that are being shoved down our throught by the 4th estate. Thats why I believe they are on there way out, People like you and me are sick of getting someones opinion every night, there is almost zero news on the big 3 and the cable counterparts. FOX at one time was my source, but even they have fell into the never ending opinion vortex. Eventually it will right itself eventually, you just have to believe in our Country to correct itself.

JessiferSeabs said...

The thing is, I'm a moderate-conservative, and I can STILL SEE that these people are close-minded idiots. Usually people who immediately go on the offensive like that do so because they actually aren't aware enough of the issues to be able to engaged in articulate dialogue -- therefore, the best defense is a good offense, right?

Sorry that you had to go through this. If it makes you feel any better (it probably doesn't), it reminded me of my boyfriend of three years, with whom I live -- my family likes him and my friends are sort of "eh", and I tend to agree with most of his opinions, but he doesn't always have the best way of stating them, and it usually ends up with me excusing myself and saying "Please stop, just stop," after a while. Poor guy. Can't believe he's put up with it for three years! ;-)

Hang in there. Loved the prom analogy. Found your blog through Voix.


dennis said...

"Usually people who immediately go on the offensive like that do so because they actually aren't aware enough of the issues to be able to engaged in articulate dialogue"

What about the ones who go on the defensive?

Leab said...

I sure you hope you don't mean me, Dennis.
I understand the issues, but I really don't like it when someone "pokes the proverbial bear" for fun.

That being said, you do have a point. Some people charge to the defensive right away.

dennis said...

It wasn't meant for you, it was a question for Jessifeseabs. If people who go on the offensive are'nt aware then what of people who go on the defensive?

soloscottrey said...

hey leab: i feel yer pain, dude...i live close to raymore and it's a dump...sorry you had to go through all that crap. at least you stuck to yer guns and tried to help someone who needed yer help. and yer wife must be super cool in order for you to not just go to missouri but to friggin drive there...i know that drive, dude. ain't no good. peace and good luck to you and yours.