Means exactly what you want it to mean
Bryan Zepp Jamieson
September 18th 2021
Kristi Noem, the religious loop that is the more-or-less governor of South Dakota, opposes even allowing children to wear masks at school to prevent spread of COVID. She does, however, want to force them to pray. There isn’t a single documented case of prayer preventing, let alone curing COVID. But Noem figures that this is America, and so she can uphold the rights of the governed by making them perform useless genuflections as they sicken and die. Children in particular, because Jesus was an American.
Right wingers love Americuh. Ask them what they love about America, and if they don’t violently attack you for having the effrontery to even ask the question, will rhapsodize about god and the flag and Ronald Reagan. Some will mention Donald Trump, and at that point you might as well walk away, because nothing sane or non-sickening is going to follow.
There actually was a poll a few years back that asked “What do you love most about America?” Most of the answers seem to have come from people who have seen too many truck ads. “Sunsets” “Good dogs” (Good dogs?) “Fields of grain” “Endless highways.” Some seem to think America is a conglomeration of fast food joints: “hot dogs” “hamburgers” “barbeques.” Others tie their national identity to pro sports. “Football.” “Basketball” “Baseball” “Hockey.” Yeah, that last one is mostly Canadian, but these people see Canada as a suburb of Minnesota where the snow ploughs empty their loads in the winter. Music will provoke distinctly American responses: jazz, rock and roll, heavy metal, but usually not r&b, hip-hop or swing. Great literature gets mentioned: Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, at least before he turned Nazi and worse, African American. The Jury is still out on Superman, who arrived here without a green card, and Wee Hughie and Butcher don’t sound like they’re from around here, do they?
Basically, Americuh is just a symbol. A coalition of vacuous gases, an empty shibboleth upon which any meaning or emotion may be imposed. In other words, just like Jesus, the flag, or cat facial expressions. It just sits there looking pretty to the beholder because it is the projection of what the beholder deems to be pretty.
While this sort of goofy, mawkish type of pseudo-patriotism isn’t limited to the right, the right have used it for a sleight of hand that dates back in its present form to the McCarthy era, and in a darker form to the earliest days of the Republic.
You see, they have a little secret: they love America till the cows come home. (Cows are Americuh, too. Moo!) Love, love, love, just caint git enuff of thet Americuh!
But they hate the United States. It showed up in that poll I mentioned. All the stuff people loved about America, but you had to scroll down a long way, far down into the single digits, before you started seeing things like “Bill of Rights”; “The Constitution”; separation of church and state; voting; freedom of speech; freedom of the press; or rule of law. The stuff that made the United States unique to begin with, the things many other countries since 1789 have emulated. Some of them didn’t even get listed.
If you point this out to a right winger, most will indignantly deny it. In fairness, many will be sincere. Most sane conservatives respect and adhere to the Constitution and understand that it, not religions or corporations or good dogs, is the moral, legal, and foundational underpinning of the United States of America.
But to many right wingers, even though they can’t say so out loud, the Constitution is the enemy of what they stand for (that great nebulosity, Americuh). The Constitution is government. The Constitution is rule of law. The Constitution is civil rights for all. The Constitution recognizes obligations just as it recognizes rights. It is a profoundly liberal document.
It also represents the strong desire of the Founders to keep churches out of the government, and in return, governments out of the churches. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, held his proudest accomplishment the separation of church and state in his Constitution for the State of Virginia. He, along with most of those who wrote the Constitution, understood the horrors of theocracies and theocrats, and resolved to never let it happen here. They didn’t want a country under god or any other imaginary religious symbol. They respected the rights of people to believe, but assigned no right to impose their beliefs on others. The Constitution, in language that exempts it from any amendment, forbids religious tests for any position of public trust.
To the far right and the MAGAts and that crowd, the United States is the enemy of all they hold near and dear. It doesn’t let them subjugate minorities or non-believers and justify their stances by turning the terms oppression and oppressed on their heads, inverting their meaning.
That explains how the people who want to tear down the democracy—the Trumpenproletariat, the Religious Freaks, and the neo-Nazis—can all do what they can to destroy the United States, but wave flags and bibles (Stars and Bars alongside Stars and Stripes, no less!), and simultaneously proclaim they are patriots because they “luv Americuh.” They love a largely mindless symbol and hate the reality.
It allows them to wave flags as they try to destroy the country.
Kristi Noem doesn’t want to “impose” social efforts to protect children (which the constitution strongly stands for) but she does want to impose her trashy little religion. She is the epitome of the far right, the lost Americans who threw away their social and historical background to live in a truck commercial.