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Patriotism for Normies

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patriotism-for-normies

How to still believe in America

Liel Leibovitz

June 03, 2020

My affair with America began with an explosion.

I was 14, standing on the roof of my home in suburban Tel Aviv and watching American MIM-104 Patriot missiles intercept Saddam Hussein’s projectiles and destroy them midair. I had visited America the place before, but watching the ink-black sky pocked by pinpricks of light as the American munition met its target introduced me to America the idea. America wasn’t just a country: It was a rocket, a boom, a sigh of relief from all of us under attack, a promise that every malicious launch will forever be met by a battery of hope.

I fell in love with America that night, and my infatuation never waned. As soon as I could, I left home and washed up on these shores, like so many other immigrants before me. I didn’t come in search of refuge or opportunity, but in search of a greatness I firmly believed this nation possessed. America, I felt, was exceptionally good, a grace it had won by committing itself from its very inception to life, liberty, and that most astonishing of undertakings, the pursuit of happiness. I came here with $2,000 in my pocket, no address, and a heart swelling with pride: Soon, I will be an American, one of the roughs.

Forgive me, then, if I don’t know quite what to make of this week’s events. I’ve lived here for 20 years now, but I’m still a newcomer. I grew up in a different place haunted by different demons, and some inherently American conversations, like the one about race, are difficult for me to decipher. I’m doing my best to listen and to learn, but weeks like this one remind me how little I really know.

(Snip)

Theirs was a stark, searing question: Whose side are you on? If you believe that George Floyd’s murder was an atrocity, you must contribute to the bail fund of those arrested for looting Macy’s and join the petition to defund the police. If you believe that smashing windows and stealing stuff is wrong, you must cheer on the president and say nothing about police brutality. Silence wasn’t an option this week; nor were confusion, exhaustion, introspection, or doubt. If you didn’t change your social media profile picture, if you didn’t make big and sweeping claims, if you didn’t stand firmly in one corner and hiss at the other you were chastised for being at best deficient and, at worst, a moral monster. Don’t you know people are dying? Don’t you know that we have no choice but to pick a side and fight for it?

(Snip)

And finally, we’ll tell you this: Many of us, like me, learned to love this country by seeing it protect our native lands. Now it’s our turn—and our privilege—to return the favor, and help protect America.

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Equality Is Messy -- and Magical

Irshad Manji

July 4 2020

What you’re about to read is a journey—and I launch it with the most famous line in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today, many question just how self-evident America’s commitment to equality is. Good. Questioning this, and much more, is every American’s unalienable right. But for me, a migrant to these shores, equality means something beyond the binary of black and white. Equality means recognizing that we’re all “plurals”: multifaceted and mongrel. Each of us has a unique back story.

(Snip)

Later that same day, my grandmother confided to me her endless fascination with “Amrika.” I had no clue that I would end up in America. Today, I’m the holder of a green card, which puts me on the path to becoming a dual citizen of Canada and the United States.

Which brings me back to the Declaration of Independence. Its stated values—“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”—serve as the unum to our pluribus, unifying aspirations in our otherwise divided body politic. Every July 4, we can do more than cite those values. We can animate them by taking the time to ask about our neighbors’ journeys, whether they’re born of mass migration or individual transformation—or both.

I, for one, will share with all and sundry that an “Arab peasant woman” lit my way to America, her flame inviting self-government as well as governance of the self, ideals kindled by the Declaration. May more of us discover the full glory of Lady Liberty’s story. And one another’s.

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H/T RCP: We Hold These Truths...Equality And The American Soul

America’s greatest challenge has always been living up to the soaring pledge of the Declaration of Independence. When America falls short on this sacred promise of equality, it undermines our national motto e pluribus unum. This July 4th, a pluribus of contributors—black, white, gay, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Americans, natural-born, naturalized, liberal, libertarian, and conservative—reflect on how a renewed commitment to equality, rightly understood, is the basis for national unity.  

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July 1 2020

Abraham Lincoln said the American founding established a “standard maxim for free society” which should be “constantly labored for…though never perfectly attained.”  In these troubled times, Lincoln reminds us that the principles of the founding afford the best political hope of “happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere.” David Whalen speaks with Larry P. Arnn, President of Hillsdale College, regarding the hope inspired by the Declaration of Independence and how education in America can cultivate happiness and value of life for all.

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