Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Flag of the Fifty-Second State

Watching the uprising in Egypt, and looking at the uncertainty that lies ahead as the Egyptian people try to find their way to a national life ungoverned by brutality and oppression, I find myself once again lamenting that the American Revolution is over.

It is, you know.  We can tell this because for all of the flag-waving and Constitution-thumping that passes for red-meat patriotism in our Republic, we are completely uninterested in any spread of our system of government beyond this particular hunk of the North American continent. 

On the one hand, we proclaim that our form of government is an expression of a universal, the greatest and most marvelous and most...cough..."exceptional" way of living together that humankind has ever discovered.  All should look to us, and want to have what we have.  On many levels, this is true.  Our freedoms are truly God-given. 

But our actions as a nation show we really don't believe it.

When a people rise up against tyranny, yearning to breathe free, it does not even begin to occur to us that perhaps...perhaps...one day the United States could be more than just American.  The values of our Constitution are not viral, not on a global scale. We are not, gosh, what's the word, "evangelical" about our Republic, not when it comes to actually having others become a part of us.     When we reached the rolling breakers of Hawaii, we said "Aloha" to Manifest Destiny

That's the "Goodbye" Aloha, not the "Welcome to Honolulu International Airport, I'm wearing a grass skirt and giving you flowers" Aloha.  Just to be clear.

We do not think that other peoples...of different colors, and speaking different languages, and of different faiths or no faith at all...could ever be a part of "We The People."

It does not even begin occur to us that perhaps the best way to spread freedom would be to stop propping up "our" despots and pouring out military aid, but to say...we have a system of government that will guarantee you the right to be free and to have a voice.  Join us!  In exchange, you'll get two Senators and as many representatives as you deserve, and equal protection under our laws.  We mean what we say, dagnabbit!

In an alternate universe, perhaps that might be true.  You know, the one where Puerto Rico was the fifty first state. 

But in this universe?  Here, it's not even an option.  Instead, we continue to prattle on about how wonderful and exceptional we are, while showing the world through our actions that we really don't mean it.

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