Saturday, July 05, 2008

Utah County is America's Rectum

It was the 4th of July yesterday. A day that celebrates the founding of our nation, with all its hopes and dreams for a civilized society and inalienable rights given to all humanity.

But, from what I saw, no one spent the day mourning the death of said nation. No one spent the day yearning for its resurrection. No, most spent the day drinking beer, blowing shit up, and, in Utah County, booing U.S. Soldiers.

Before talking about reddest county in the universe, let me talk to you about this article.

It's entitled, "A Not So Glorious Fourth" by the Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Satullo. The subtitle was "U.S. Artocities Are Unworthy of Our Heritage". That about says it all, but I encourage you to read it.

They've given us so many detractions these days, (Gas prices, a failing economy, job cut-backs, Madonna's marriage, etc) that we just assumed that America was still the shiny beacon of hope and justice it was at its founding. You might guess that it's not our fault if we didn't notice the great sins committed in the last 8 years. But you would have guessed wrong. We've noticed.

Unfortunately in this country, crimes against humanity and unConstitutional acts of treachery often comes with a stamp of "Patriotism" on them. Patriotism, like religion, has become a bastardized mutant of its original meaning and purpose. Many in this country have fallen folly to this deceiving guise. I don't want to call these people ignorant fools or mentally retarded clowns, but those are the only definitions my brain can come up with right now.

So, that takes us to Utah County, a virtual cornucopia of said patriots. Folks there give President Bush his current highest approval ratings nationwide. When Bush came to Utah last month, they threw millions of dollars his way. They loved, repeat loved, Mitt Romney with his promise to "double Guantanamo". Dick Cheney came and spoke at Brigham Young University's graduation last year to a cheering crowd of 50,000. And they laughed at all his jokes. And American flags? Not only are there hundreds of them flying about, but they even have their own American Flag factory.

But all of that is child's play when it comes to the 4th of July. These people go butter nuts around this time of year. The love it so much, that the festivities begin in mid-June with the launch of the annual "America's Freedom Festival". Dozens of activities where people try to prove they love freedom the most. There's the "most patriotic baby" contest where parents dress their kids up in such costumes as a marine holding a toy gun or a fighter pilot riding around in a toy bomber plane. Most of the kids are just doused in shit loads of red, white and blue and plopped on multiple tables in front of google-eyed judges. I've attended one of these horror shows before and it's like being stuck in the middle of a National Geographic anthropological study.

To save time, I will just say that dozens and dozens of events occur over the course of an entire month so that everyone in Utah County gets to celebrate the fuck out of America.

All of it culminates into, what I've coined as, the largest masturbatorium of patriotic elitism... "The Stadium of Fire". About 50,000 people cram into BYU's football stadium every 4th of July (or 3rd if the 4th is on a Sunday cuz God doesn't want you celebrating America on His day) and the crowd is hosted by a slew of intellectual giants such as Sean Hannity, Oliver North, or, this year, Glenn Beck.

I took a camera crew to one of these fascinating events back in 2004 when Hannity was hosting. The event would have even sent Hunter S. Thompson into catatonic shock. As soon as Hannity takes the stage, he announces to the entire audience that the U.S. had "found WMD in Iraq". The crowd had a conniption. They cheered and applauded for what seemed like 5 straight minutes. After that, everyone in the crowd had been given either a red, white or blue card. When they all lifted it above their heads, it turned into a gigantic flag mosaic. Hannity opined, "I think we have created the world's biggest American flag". The crowd went wild again, some throwing their American flag cards to the ground in order to clap and whistle.

The fireworks show ended the night and, goes without saying, the crowd fucking loved that shit too. The last fireworks ignited that night were flaming signs of all the corporate sponsors. I kid you not.

Flash forward to the 2008 show. Glenn Beck, whom I've heard just totally loves freedom, hosted the show and Miley "Hannah Montana" Cyrus was the closing act. But, in the middle of the program, a surprise. Utah soldiers serving in Iraq were linked live via satellite to the giant stadium screens for their families to watch. Their families had no idea this was going to happen. Some burst into tears.

One soldier said, "I can't believe I kept the surprise. I miss you."

The crowd went crazy with supportive applause.

And then another soldier picked up a University of Utah flag (BYU's rival) and said "Go Utes!" (the name of the football team).

The crowd's cheers turned into boos and jeers.

To recap, the crowd starting booing an American soldier while he stood in the hot desert of Iraq.

They supported him serving his country. They supported the flag he wore. They supported his sacrifice. And then he said he liked a football team that they didn't like and so they told him to go fuck himself.

And thus is Utah County. And the rest of the flag-waving "Obama is Muslim Terrorist" numbskulls in the country. Patriotism, at its very core, has become nothing more than a compensation for retardation. Filling in the stupid holes of our society with its empty elitism.

I tell ya, when the line between being a patriot or a traitor depends on what football team you like, we are all seriously screwed.


Update # 1:

On July 5th, the day after Utah County showed the whole world had patriotic they were, this story hit.

Update #2:

Watch Glenn Beck cry and the ghosts of Iwo Jima spin in their graves.

Watch a wave of 50,000 flags while tanks fire and army men parachute from the sky.


Dave said...

I can't believe I just read your entire post. I thought that by the end you might have some intelligent point to make.

Booing a soldier who holds up your rival team's flag is not the same as telling him to go *** himself. Were you abused as a child? Sheesh... get real. The soldier waved that flag to get exactly what he wanted (and got) out of the crowd. And everyone had a great time booing and cheering just like they do every time those teams walk on the field.

This is not a state divided. What's wrong with a most patriotic baby contest? What's wrong with loving fireworks or wanting to make the biggest (or at least a really big) American flag?

You could take about six lines out of your post and it would be talking about how great Utah is at celebrating freedom and democracy.

But... you're just a loser that hates people who are happy in celebrating what they get to enjoy every day.

No one is perfect. We're all hypocrites to a certain extent - but there's nothing wrong with celebrating your freedom (and doing it on Saturday instead Sunday if you think that's what's right).

I'm sorry your life sucks so much... but at least you're free to pursue the unhappiness you so obviously crave.

To recap...

Who can turn babies dressed in red white and blue, the biggest American flag ever, celebratory fireworks, and a surprise reunion of soldiers with their families into something bad?

I guess in your mind... you can. :)

Steven said...

The line between cheering a soldier in Iraq and booing him is whether he likes the same football team as you.

That's batshit.

Utah County celebrates a month of "patriotism" and then a news story hits about Utah has the lowest, repeat LOWEST, voter registration in the entire nation.

Utah County's idea of patriotism is supporting a candidate who wants to "double" the atrocities at Gitmo

Utah County's ideal host for their 4th of July party is a man who says all Gitmo detainee should be released and then "shot in the head" execution style.

Utah County's idea of patriotism is throwing overwhelming support, both financial and social, to a war criminal.

Patriotism, to them, is a cereal box. A movie poster. Hannah Montana.

That, my friend, is a sad commentary.

Sorry my story offended you.

It's a hard pill to swallow.

Dave said...

Are you suggesting that if a soldier holds up a University of Utah flag on the big screen at BYU, that people who boo are expressing something hateful towards that soldier?

Why do you think he waved that flag?

I can't tell if you're over analyzing, or just stupid. Either way, I'm pretty sure if you ask that soldier if he thought people would go crazy when he waved that flag, he'd tell you that everything played out exactly according to his plan.

That's called fun and games... but some people do like to play with batshit so I guess I won't hold that against you. :)

Steven said...

I'm just saying this example is a microcosm for the larger facade of patriotism in the "reddest county" in the nation.

If you look at the examples I've listed above, could you seriously say this defines a conglomerate of patriotic citizens?

Call me stupid, if you will, but that isn't patriotism. That's just ignorance.

Dave said...

Of all your examples above... only the soldier one is not taken out of context. I'm not really accusing you of taking Bush, Romney, or Gitmo out of context... I'm just saying that those are a lot of more complicated.

You said "this example is a microcosm for the larger facade".

That's just crazy (or stupid, or whatever word you want to use). It's just wrong.

I admit, there are a certain number (very few) real crazies out there who actually hate and maybe even want to murder people just because they support BYU or UofU. The team rivalry might be a bit of a "microcosm" for Utah - but this specific event (soldier getting booed for waving a Utah flag) is nothing like that.

The vast majority (like 99.99%) of people booing the soldier were having fun - not expressing hate towards a person who is sacrificing his time and risking his life for their freedom.

I guess this is why you're not really answering the question about the booing... and just falling back on those easy buzz phrases: Bush, Romney, Gitmo...

BUT FORGET ALL THAT... Here's the most important question...

You said "Patriotism, to them, is a cereal box. A movie poster. Hannah Montana. That, my friend, is a sad commentary."

So what's your commentary? Just ripping on how other people choose to enjoy their lives and entertain their families?

Seriously, what's your commentary? What makes you such a "sincere" and "noble" patriot? Maybe you don't consider yourself one... but in any case, what would make ANYONE a sincere patriot in your eyes?

I'm not talking about Bush or Romney here... don't just throw out more names and places.

If patriotic contests, fireworks, and pop-star entertainment are cereal box patriotism -- what should we be doing?

I'll even give you some ammunition...

I agree with you that Utah sucks when it comes to participating in the national democracy.

But this is not what your post was about. Your post (from beginning to end) was implying that our country is no longer worthy of celebration, and that the Fourth of July should be a time of mourning.

This is why I think you are a sick freak. My family and I enjoyed the celebration, and I'm glad that (unlike you) my children are proud to be Americans, grateful for what this great country is, and always hopeful for what it can become in the future.

HappyValley said...

Indeed, there is nothing wrong with celebrating “freedom,” it is just how we go about celebrating that becomes the issue. Too often our celebration of “freedom” focuses on superficial, dramatic, and hackneyed activities and ideas. What do hot air balloons, baby contests, and fireworks really have to do with “freedom”? (Narcissistic parents who enter their children in these contests do it for themselves not for the country.) Is it only that we live in a country that allows individuals to partake in these activities? Even the public reunions between soldiers in Iraq and family members here, however meaningful it is for the individuals directly involved, have become a maudlin cliché, a brief distraction for those at sporting events. Private conversations between soldier and family are authentic, emotional experiences for those involved—such conversations occur daily, as I have learned from friends serving in Iraq. Conversations in front of 50,000 people, on the other hand, are a kitschy performance, a cheap attempt at eliciting patriotic emotion by event organizers.

Don’t we owe it to the troops serving in Iraq to think more deeply about the complexity of “freedom” and about those who don’t enjoy the same rights that we do. (Speech and essays contests, like the ones held by the Freedom Festival, are a good start.) Do we consider other countries that limit voter rights (Zimbabwe, most recently in the news)? And do we value and exercise this right? (This is an especially damning question in Utah, as Steven has pointed out.) Do we consider the “freedom” of the gay community in California, whose civil rights are continually being challenged? Do we consider the rights of Walmart employees who are paid less than is required to feed their families? Do the organizers of the “freedom festival” itself understand that by continually inviting unabashedly right-wing commentators (Hannity, Beck, etc) to speak at and emcee events they are preferencing one political position over others and effectively marginalizing those who don’t agree with the ideas espoused by these individuals. (To assume that Glenn Beck will be politically neutral at a “freedom festival” in an election year is incredibly naive.) By not giving a forum for alternative ideas and suppressed voices, the Stadium of Fire organizers do more to restrict “freedom” than they do to celebrate it.

Indeed there is nothing wrong with celebrating “freedom,” but we need to stop relying on the same old tired clichés and empty rituals that are performed in the name of celebrating patriotism. Such rituals provide a shiny veneer of patriotism that too often substitutes for real action, conviction, and meaning.

D.C. said...

Thanks to the Deseret Snooze for pointing me to your blog. You've picked up a new reader.

Sam said...

You're right, we should give up on America. No more patriotism for me. I'm going to sit back and watch it continue to slide down the toilet.

Even if our country has problems, there are many things to still be proud of - including our heritage. Nothing as big as the United States is perfect, and certainly not the people in it (or running it). If you can't see good things that our country has done or is doing, then you're choosing to being blind.

The U.S. does far more to help those in need than it does against our enemies. In fact, the US gives more to the WFO and many other organizations than any other country, and more than most other countries combined. We have helped Africa more in the last 8 years than at any time in our history, and we have managed to get at least a few crazy world leaders to disarm their nuclear programs WITHOUT botched military operations.

There are countless other great things the USA has done both home and abroad. Again, not without (sometimes very big) mistakes.

Most Americans will still help a neighbor in need. Most Americans will still let strangers into their homes to use their bathroom. Most Americans will still help an old lady cross the street.

It is time for correction. It is time for a course adjustment. The ship isn't sinking, it's just of course. I'm not going to denounce America because we've made mistakes. I'm as patriotic as ever, but that doesn't mean I'm defending the mistakes we've made.

I will continue to celebrate our country while listening to the empty threats of my friends to "move to Canada." I don't care what anyone says, the USA rocks - and I see the loss of patriotism of the people as a MUCH bigger problem than some questionable human rights violations carried out by the government.

Chris Forscutt said...
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Santa Vaca said...
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Steven said...

Chris Forscutt,

Utah County has one of the highest (in recent years THE highest) national intake of anti-depressants.

Happy Valley? Not according to funny little things called statistics.

Utah County is centralized in a state with THE lowest voter turn-out nationwide.

Patriotic Valley? By ditching the most patriotic action a citizen can take and then having a month long pat-on-the-back, flag-waving, orgy of patriotism just seems silly.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Santa Vaca said...
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Steven said...

Chicks at BYU are hot? I'm in SLC so I haven't noticed recently. Why do you think they're hot?

And, nigga, please. Looking at your Sears Roubuck pics on your blog tells me you're the last person on the planet that should be giving me flack about pussy.