originally written for Open Source magazine
That patriotism is a trope most successfully deployed by right-wing interests in this country can hardly be debated. The credit goes not so much to conservative politicians as to cultural producers like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Chuck Norris.
What I’m concerned about here is the Right’s monopoly on the production of what might be called ‘Real America’. Perhaps recent liberal cultural producers have found that particular construction of identity too amoral, uninspiring, irrelevant to their own lives, or just boring to hold their interest and incite their work.
NO. THE REAL AMERICAN IS ONE OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS, RESONANT, AND OBSCENE IDENTITIES PRODUCED IN OUR CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL SPHERE.
SO MAKE ART THAT CLAIMS, CONTESTS, OR MOLESTS REAL AMERICA.
HAVE PICNICS WHERE YOU EAT APPLE PIE AND SMOKE WEED.
WEAR AMERICAN-FLAG-EMBLAZONED CLOTHING AND TALK ABOUT COMMUNISM, FOR REAL.
COME OUT OF THE CLOSET.
SING THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER AT PARTIES.
TALK ABOUT AMERICA’S PROBLEMS, PAST AND CURRENT, OF VIOLENCE, RACISM, MISOGYNY, RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM, XENOPHOBIA, HOMOPHOBIA, ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM, GENOCIDE, AND GREED.
TALK ABOUT AMERICA AS AN OPPORTUNITY.
TAKE STEPS TO TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY/IES.