Fourth of July Faux Pas

National pride is arguably the only value that matters. In the name of Independence Day, patriot Caitlin Boersma scrutinizes the United States Flag Code, what you’re wearing, and the country’s likeness to characters from an Adam Sandler movie.

The Fourth of July is the big day where beer and fireworks come together to form one fantastic, if not fateful, show that seems to sum up America’s mantra perfectly: this probably isn’t a good idea, but damnit, we’re free!

This Independence Day I ask you to question both your patriotism as well as your choice of apparel. I realize it’s tempting to dress your whole family alike in those Old Navy American flag t-shirts, but please refrain. First of all, they are ugly. Whoever designed our flag (according to Encarta.msn.com it may not have been Betsy Ross), either had no sense of fashion or limited materials to work with. Even still I can’t imagine when the flag could have ever been en vogue. I know there is a lot of symbolism involved, but it doesn’t mean you have to wear it.

Uncle SamIt’s actually against the United States Flag Code to wear the American flag. Look it up for yourself on the reputable site Wikipedia. It’s probably the only rule in the flag code that isn’t stupid. It’s also against the rules to have a flag print on your picnic table’s paper table cloth or have it become tattered as it waves proudly from your SUV. When it becomes soiled or torn, it’s supposed to be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. Now, isn’t that ironic? Don’t worry if you have violated one or all of these rules. The U.S. Flag Code isn’t really a law. It’s unconstitutional to force anyone to follow these rules. You’ll just go to hell.

Although I don’t consider myself patriotic, I am not un-American either. I have a sense of pride and even a sense of power from being a citizen of this country. Aside from the legal freedoms, the sheer mass of this nation gives me a feeling of freedom. You may not agree with our military might, but it does invoke a sense of security. I feel safer being an American citizen because, on one hand, I’m protected from other nations, and on the other hand I don’t belong to one of the nations the U.S. is beating on.

I also have the freedom to dissent, say what I want and even make up my own religion. I might be persecuted, but I won’t be prosecuted. I can also drive my huge boat of a car with only 19mpg down a six-lane freeway. All of that is pretty neat. My point is that I am not an America-basher, so keep your cowboy hat on. I am, however, concerned with the level of blind patriotism American citizens seem to have.

Patriotism is about national pride, devotion, loyalty, and even love. If you think you fit this description, why? Is there a lot we have to be proud of? There are great things about this country, as I have listed above, but I also think that our recent behavior merits not pride, but shame.

What follows is a rather imprudent but fitting analogy. The film Billy Madison features a family of big, fat bullies called the O’Doyles. In each scene they beat someone up and, without fail, yell, “O’Doyle rules.” They repeat this phrase even as a carload of the whole family is driving off a cliff. America is the O’Doyle of the world.

Americans are so convinced that the United States is the “best” country in the whole world without a fair scale of judgment. The U.S. has a terrible reputation around the world, but no heed is taken stateside. Not only do we enjoy our way of life, but we assume that since it’s so great every nation should have the benefit of a democracy like ours. In grade school civics we are conditioned to think that our political system is the best and the U.S. should do what it can to spread the wealth of democracy.

Old Navy Family

These children, in violation of both U.S. Flag Code and Fashion Laws, will most likely be put to death.

The rule of thumb in America is that it is okay to do what you want as long as you are not harming yourself or others. Practice your religion and be strong in your political perspective. Just don’t bother anybody about it. I find it hypocritical that while we cherish this about our freedom, we infringe on other nations to accept democracy, and hopefully, our way of life.

No, I’m not talking about Iraq. I’m sick of discussing Iraq. It was a mistake, we all know it, and now we are paying for it. I am simply talking about the narcissism of this country. We have the power to force everyone to their knees, and therefore, we are the best. O’Doyle rules!

I don’t want to ruin anyone’s Fourth. Enjoy your hamburgers and fireworks and celebrate the country we live in, but keep that patriotism in check and avoid the kind of arrogance that the rest of the world hates us for. C’mon, we don’t want to turn into France.

Caitlin Boersma is studying political science and English, but spends most of her time analyzing pop culture. Her premise for a new reality TV show, Killing Andy Milonakis, has yet to be picked up by VH1. She is notorious for spending a week’s wages on a ticket to see Morrissey live.