Commentary | Don’t defame. Debate.

The hypocrisy behind the rhetoric of patriotism

Being the politically conscious American that I am, I tuned into the Republican debate last week and saw a gay soldier in Iraq ask if any of the candidates’ potential presidencies would undo President Obama’s work to repeal the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. As reference, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell barred Queer servicemen and women from being openly gay in the American armed forces. Before the candidates could even respond, the audience booed. This comes from a crowd at a debate hosted by Fox News, a self-professing “patriotic” news station   It’s not that I expected more, necessarily, but it was such a slap in the face to see a serviceman booed by those he’s fighting to protect. In addition,  he wasn’t defended, or thanked for his service, by any of the candidates. Among these candidates are some who‘ve said homosexual acts are “unconstitutional,” called Liberalism “un-American,” and labelled the head of the Federal Reserve “treasonous.” The rhetoric is bad enough, but the real issue I see with it is that it’s hypocritical.

Why? Because the ‘real’ American was the one man who wasn’t in the room during the debate. It was Stephen Hill, the guy on webcam, the American soldier. Well, you know what I say to you, ladies and gentlemen with the Republican presidential potentials? You are un-American. Un-American for being complicit in the defamation of one of our country’s finest.
I get that the Republicans are passionate about their country and what they think is best for it. It’s the land that they love. But it’s also the land that others love, and some of those individuals were booed and called un-American.

I remember being thought of as against core American values for believing in Obamacare. I don’t appreciate being called un-American, especially when it comes to something like health care, taxes, and regulation. We’re not dismantling the fabric of American society – these are matters of economics, and it is simply a matter of what one thinks is best for the country. I don’t like that the desire to provide the uninsured with medicine became fodder for a campaign of plastering Hitler moustaches on our President. It’s in the same vein as jeering a loyal soldier. That, I have to say, is un-American.

The Right is turning the general Washington debate – that they can’t win with hard logic, considering how Bush’s economic and foreign policies so miserably failed us not long ago – into the sort of culture warfare that has worked so well in the past. Why debate something when you can just brand the other side treacherous? If we’re going to go down that path, then this is my rebuttal to your hypocrisy. It’s American to champion the basic human rights of everyone and claim the moral high ground over the terrorists who wish us harm; it’s un-American to hold prisoners indefinitely and torture them. It’s American to let anybody worship or not worship whichever gods they like, two blocks from Ground Zero or in front of the White House; it’s un-American to call this a Christian nation and stoop to rampant Islamophobia as a means to an end. It’s American to announce to the world that loving persons who love each other should be married, and if those people want to serve in our armed forces, they should receive a standing applause, not a cowardly booing hiss; it’s un-American to deny any of those rights. Remember the next time anybody claims a monopoly on the right to be American: acrimonious and misleading jingoism and vilification of this calibre is really what’s “un-American,” not anyone that serves their country, in whatever capacity.

Richard Carozza is a U2 Physiology student. He can be reached at Richard.Carozza@mail.mcgill.ca


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