Send your patriotism to Sri Lanka

Erin Roof

I have made it through summer’s onslaught of patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day) with my fingers still proudly folded into fists. These celebrations beg Americans to profess their love of the United States — no matter how badly it screws up. It says to turn a blind eye, drink American beer, light a sparkler and just don’t think. Don’t read the news. Don’t listen. Don’t think.

Well, not this time. I am not sorry to say I know too much about this country’s grave misgiving to dutifully pretend. So, this year I have decided to celebrate by joining in one of the most American traditions known to modern man: I am outsourcing my patriotism.

Just like the vacant jobs that have turned Ohio into a factory graveyard, I outsource my patriotism to the workers in Mexico, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, India and China. So many of these hard-working men and women are victims of globalization. They toil in factories where “union” is a deadly word. They work long hours in poor conditions for meager wages, so we may wear our $5.99 “God Bless The U.S.A.” rhinestone-studded T-shirts. It disgusts me.

I also outsource my patriotism to the nations of Africa. Our president made a mockery of Americans’ goodwill by shying away from Prime Minister Tony Blair’s request for increased aid to Africa. In addition, he still hasn’t fully funded his $15-billion Millennium Challenge AIDS prevention in Africa program. Millions dying of HIV/AIDS are still waiting.

To the family of Salah Jmor, I give my sympathy and hope for peace. I met Jmor in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was an economics professor for Kent State’s Center for International and Comparative Programs. A Kurdish Iraqi, he regularly worked in Baghdad building the new Iraqi government. He was recently shot in the head and killed by an American soldier who must have forgotten Jmor was on our side.

Likewise, I pledge my patriotism to all the victims of the Iraq War. My love goes out to you and your families, who have lost loved ones and have seen your homes, and lives, destroyed. I also offer my apologies for the near-sighted, irresponsible and tragically misguided mistakes of my government. Occupation is not freedom.

My patriotism also goes out to the U.S. soldiers who feel they were sweet-talked, conned and mislead into joining the armed forces. May you return safely home soon.

I outsource my patriotism and affinity to the citizens of Palestine. My country purports to honor freedom and the self-determination of its inhabitants. Yet, it has routinely supported Israel, which has gunned down your families, razed your houses and shut off roads so you may not travel to your jobs. The apartheid wall also stands as one of the most hideous scars of hatred on our planet today.

Finally, to my brothers and sisters of rebellion here in our united land divided, let us share in our global patriotism, our hope and our faith that we can bring about a better world with our strong minds, strong words and strong fists.

Erin Roof is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].