Michelle Obama caused an "uproar" among imbeciles when she said:
"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change."
I have made the phrase bold, so that anyone unfamiliar with the flap this statement caused can be, um, keyed in.
Michelle Obama was born in 1964. Let's say she begins counting her adult like at age 18. Voting age. That would be 1982. What was up in 1982? Let's look at Wikipedia.
LeAnn Rimes was born. That's bad. Ronald Reagan was President. Ouch. A recession begins in the US. First lethal injection in the US. Cold War ongoing. Falklands War.
Look... I hate to be a big bastard...but my generation, and the preceding one, were RAISED to be cynical by former hippies that voted for Ronald Reagan. And since 1982, it's not like the US has actually been a shining beacon of light in the world. Reagan got a second term, Bush got a term, Bill Clinton had his tumultuous Presidency, George W. Bush is still in the midst of his two-term presidency.
We've had a shitty record on Human Rights, especially lately.
We've meddled in the Middle East; we've become obsessed with Reality Television; we've given high ratings to Friends; we gave an Oscar to Titanic. We've tortured prisoners, traded guns for hostages; had a President impeached by a lynch mob Congress obsessed with extra-marital affairs (and a President having them); our public heath system has been increasingly untenable; we've still got massive gaps between the economic and scholastic access of the rich and poor, the black and the white; it took us years to even acknowledge the AIDs crisis; gay rights are still not entirely defended; abortion rights are under attack; women still earn less than men; the arts are grossly underfunded.
That's just some of it.
Essentially... the idea that this election (between the first woman with a real shot at the Presidency, who is an accomplished Senator and public servant; and a young, black, Harvard educated former community organizer with a father for Kenya and a mother from Kansas) might be the first time that someone feels really proud of her country is completely understandable to me.
Is the US entirely without merit? Fuck no. But through MY own adult life (I'm sure I'm not alone here) being truly proud of the US is a stretch. I'm proud to say that there are ideals in this country that I think are beautiful, and through an accident of birth, I have access to many rights and freedoms that others are denied. That's great. Proud of it? I don't know. It seems like something I didn't earn. Throughout my life, flag waving bullsh*t ("We're the land of the Free!") is carted out whenever we want to avoid discussing the reality of our foreign policy and domestic priorities.
I am proud of the country right now. It's exciting. Maybe we'll live up to the promises we keep making about equality and opportunity. Or maybe we'll elect John McCain. Who knows?
But let's be real. Mrs. Obama hasn't had a lot to cheer about as a black woman in the United States for a great deal of her adult life.
If she's proud now...so be it. I'd rather she spoke from her true experience than trot out some trite, patriotic hogwash that has little-to-no basis in reality.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.