Wednesday, June 22, 2011
No Fear & Loathing in Minneapolis: Cheap patriotism vs. Deep patriotism
I was supposed to go to the Netroots Nation convention in Minneapolis last week, an annual event designed to appeal to progressive bloggers, progressive activists and progressive wannabes. However, 24 hours before I was scheduled to leave for Minnesota, I started to get cold feet. Why even bother? Trying to speak up for freedom, justice and democracy in America just seems to be an exercise in futility these days. Obviously the corporatists and their Fright-wing minions have grabbed hold of all us progressives by the short hairs and aren't letting go -- so why even bother to fight back? I started to reach for the phone, to cancel my reservations.
But then I didn't.
It's time to man up and not let those bastards get me down!
So the next day I bravely put on my "We sail until Palestine is Free" T-shirt, ignored all the suspicious looks from passengers who appeared to think I was about to blow up the plane in the middle of some grade-B movie by Adam Sandler, flew off to Denver, spent the night attempting to sleep in the DEN airport and finally flew on to Minneapolis to the tune of "This land is your land..." playing in my head.
This land was made for you and me.
And that's pretty much what they tried to tell us at the Netroots Nation convention.
America doesn't belong to the corporatists and their brain-washed Fright-wing minions. This land STILL belongs to you and me. And there are still a lot of us who still believe this -- that America is still ours.
And I learned that we all have to stand up and fight for our country. And I also learned that I'm not in this battle alone.
Over 2,500 progressives attended the NN convention. It was inspiring! I really am not alone. And not only that, but I learned that the people of Minneapolis are really NICE. Got immigrant problems? No problem here. The people of this great city embraced their immigrants, educated them, made them productive citizens and put them to work to make Minneapolis stronger -- not becoming just one more bastion of Fear and Loathing and hate like in Arizona right now (and Warsaw in 1944). America is bigger than that.
At the convention, Van Jones gave a speech about "Cheap patriots vs. Deep patriots". Here's a video of that speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvdqD7bNZOs. This speech is like the Gettysburg Address of modern progressivism -- short and moving. I left the auditorium completely inspired. Screw the fright-wing media and the corporate Big Boys who tell us that progressives are un-American fools. I'm gonna go back out there into the blogosphere trenches and fight for my country!
"Don't you tell us that progressives don't love our country," said Jones. "We stand up for folks and we help people and we hold them and help and love them -- the people that you mistreat and run over and laugh at. And we see the effects of your cynicism and your disrespect and your hate-mongering. And it's not just immoral, it's un-American to abuse the airwaves and the ears of our children with your lies and your filth. We're sick of it. You're not America. We're a better country than that. Quit abusing our country!"
Jones talked about how Tea Party members have rallied around the idea of "Rugged Individualism," and how badly that plan is working out for them -- because Tea Party members are demanding rugged individualism alright, but only for the soon-to-be-extinct American middle class, not for the oligarchs. Is the Tea Party rallying around the idea of demanding "Rugged Individualism" for wealthy corporatists too? Hell no. Corporatists get to be Socialists!
"Progressives need to rally around the American Dream. Not the one that says that somehow we may someday all become millionaires, but the one that says if we work hard we will succeed." And that our government is there to help us succeed, not just to give more trillions of dollars to Wall Street and the War machine -- while taking away our infrastructure and Social Security and educational system and jobs in order to pay for the Tea Party's naive belief that their corporatist heroes need government perks but they don't. Or words to that effect.
Now I'm all inspired to go back home and kick even more Corporatist arse. This is MY America. Not theirs. I'm a Deep Patriot. Corporatists and their Tea Party minions are just cheap patriots. So there!
PS: While in Minneapolis, I also discovered that I was actually staying next to the University of Minnesota chapter-house of my old sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Wow! Here's my big chance to use my secret handshake and reminisce over the old glory days back in 1961 when I was Kappa's only token hippie. So I knocked on the chapter-house door, but no one answered. Guess you can't go home again. Sigh.
PPS: Minneapolis has some wonderful public transportation. I took their light-rail train out to the Mall of America and got there in less than 20 minutes. LOVED the MOA, that tribute to America's sacred worship of materialism. Loved the rides. Loved the shops. Even loved Hooters! But. America is so much more than just the trinkets you can buy in shops and stores.
America's true glory lies in the kind smiles on Minneapolis residents' faces -- and their willingness to help strangers. No Fear & Loathing here.
PPPS: And if you still aren't completely pissed off at the Republican corporatists and their Tea Party dupes who have set out to systematically destroy America's middle class, then just click here and listen to another Netroots Nation keynote speech by MN Senator Al Franken -- then you definitely will be pissed off! http://www.care2.com/causes/franken-tear-off-stars.html
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