Yesterday, after waking up to the unthinkable, I posted on Facebook that for the first time in my life, I was ashamed to call myself an American. Some people felt the same way and others weren’t happy about the results, but didn’t feel the shame that I did, nor are they required to. I enjoy a lot of the relationships I have with people who don’t think like me. Frankly, they probably get tired of me ranting and raving, but they’re too nice to say anything, so it’s the perfect relationship as far as I’m concerned.
There were the “how dare you” type comments throughout the day, of course. They weren’t mad that I was upset about the election. They were mad that I would do something as unpatriotic as to say I am ashamed of my country. And that is the problem with America in a nutshell. This unwavering pride that is impervious to introspection and to critical self-analysis. It’s called blind nationalism, and it has led to the downfall of societies throughout history.
By me admitting my shame, I’m saying we made a historical mistake. If that’s unpatriotic, then I am happily unpatriotic. I want to get better as a country. We don’t do that by refusing to examine policies and beliefs that have gotten us to this point simply because we’re America, and America can do no wrong. We have to allow ourselves to feel shame. Shame will either destroy you or it will rebuild you and make you stronger. I have faith that this country would experience the latter and not the former.
I am ashamed because Donald Trump is now my representative as an American to the international community. He is a man with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I am ashamed because 47% of my fellow Americans decided his brand of politics spoke to them. They overlooked, and in some cases celebrated, his destructive speech, behavior, and policies. They discounted his obvious lies because he echoed how they felt. He made up easily disproved facts and figures to support a candidacy that featured hate at its core. That is why I’m ashamed to call myself an American. That he could spur people to vote against the best interest of our country is shameful. I’m not leaving America. I’m staying. I’m going to reevaluate my beliefs and actions, and I’m going to reevaluate my country’s. I refuse to be an unthinking nationalist. I am not a drone-American. If it is required that I constantly express pride in this country in order to call myself an American, even when I feel it has made a catastrophic mistake, then call me un-American. I will wear the name with honor.