“Today's the fourth of July / Another June has gone by / And when they light up our town / I just think what a waste of gunpowder and sky.” Aimee Mann
I often have difficulty finding nice things to say about my native country, the good ol’ U.S. of A. Given the various collective consciousness’ of Americans and not finding myself a part of any of their groups, I find it nearly impossible to consider myself an American; if anything, I consider myself a citizen of the world. Still, it would benefit me to find something nice to say about the country I live in despite the overwhelming stupidity I am often surrounded by. With that in mind, there is definitely something nice to say about the United States of America, namely, that it is a country that against all odds eventually gets it right. Sometimes it is a country that even apologizes.
I am speaking chiefly of two recent news items. One, the recent Supreme Court ruling that gays and lesbians be legally allowed to wed across the country; a shocking and staggering decision given the judges currently sitting on the Supreme Court. (Of course, the vote wasn’t unanimous. You can always count on Justice Scalia to be a dick to every non-white, non-Republican, non-Christian citizen.) Two, little more than a week earlier, a white supremacist shoots nine dead in South Carolina, prompting a weeks-long national backlash against the South’s traditional symbol of racial hatred, the Civil War era’s Confederate flag.
Naturally, the racists went practically Darwinian on us and attempted flooding the Internet with 'clever' memes like this one:
And the meme works…for about a second until you think about it even superficially. Did the U.S. government slaughter Native Americans and screw them out of their land? Yes. Did they intern innocent Japanese citizens during WWII? I believe so. Did the Bush Administration OK torture of Iraqis? You betcha. Is police brutality a major issue these days? Yes, yes it is. So, the thinking goes, the U.S. flag and the people it represents must be as bad if not worse than the Confederate flag and the people it represents.
Whoa, little fellers! There is one major difference between the U.S. flag and the Confederate flag and the people they respectively represent: The U.S. government eventually apologizes for the mistakes it makes. Even if such apologies are lip-service, apologies are often made and some kind of relationship is established between the victimized parties and the perpetrators. Those who are beholden to the Confederate flag have never done this or even tried; they have never said, “Gee, we’re really sorry for our ancestors doing what they did to your ancestors.” Instead, they continue to fly a flag – a symbol – of their continued hatred of groups of people simply because such proponents are dimwitted and unable to understand anything in the world beyond themselves. Proponents of the Confederate flag will insist that their flag is merely a part of their roots, conveniently leaving out the part about being racists who would gladly lynch a black person if they thought they could get away with it. While I personally see no need to apologize for anything someone in my family might have done to anyone else, I can have sympathy towards someone’s pain and remove symbols that indicate and reinforce what a terrible person I am. Upon a moment’s reflection, the formerly ‘clever’ meme is nothing of the sort.
Conversely, though it may come late in certain situations, the U.S. as a whole gets around to making an apology. In a few years, when it is seen that gay marriages didn’t cause the universe to implode, the U.S. will get around to apologizing to the LGBT community. "Hey, guys, we're real sorry we treated you as if you weren't human. That was messed up of us." This is something great about America, something most other countries cannot say.If you are wronged, the U.S. will eventually apologize, hopefully not posthumously like, say, the Vatican is famous for.
The gods be willing, the U.S. may even one day apologize to itself for being a black hole of idiocy.
(Figure out the problem with this one yet? The U.S. has no jurisdiction over the pyramids which are in Egypt. And, as far as I know, Egypt has never apologized for the fact that the pyramids were built by slaves, probably because tourism brings in a boat load of money. Surely, the Egyptian government doesn’t go out of it’s way to explain how the Pyramids at Giza were built. Hint: They were really built by aliens! A belief only Americans hold. Sigh.)