Patriot or Nationalist?

A rant for Independence Day.

Bert Menninga
Jul 4, 2013 · 2 min read

It’s that day of the year, time for parades and flags, for hot dogs on the grill and watermelon and fireworks. All to the accompaniment of any number of patriotic songs – “The Star-Spangled Banner” of course, “America the Beautiful,” “This Land Is Your Land,” even the “Washington Post March.”

And “God Bless America.”

Oh how I hate “God Bless America.” It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Is it the fact that it invokes religion in its paean to a country ostensibly built on the separation of church and state? That it is an anthem of exceptionalism, that it begs the question: So, if God blesses America, that means she’s cursing all other countries, or at least blessing them less, right?

Mostly, though, it’s that “God Bless America” has become some kind of badge of patriotism, hauled out so everyone can prove how much they love their country. I can’t help thinking of that scene in Cabaret in the beer garden where everyone sings “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.”

Not that I particularly love the “Star-Spangled Banner,” but at least it avoids religion. I definitely belong in the camp that prefers above all Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” – that would make a much better national anthem!

Anyway, I hope your Fourth is full of hot dogs and watermelon and fireworks and parades and even your favorite rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Just be careful with the flag waving, someone’s liable to get their eye poked.

I. M. H. O.

The Editorial Page

    Bert Menninga

    Written by

    American editor in Stockholm working for the media company Bonnier (my tweets are my own opinions and not Bonnier's. Just so you know.)

    I. M. H. O.

    The Editorial Page

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