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The hypocrisy of patriotism

Illustration by Jennifer Kearney
By Allisyn Keyser
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, September 26, 2005
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Far away in the country of Iraq thousands of American soldiers are fighting to protect our freedom.

They believe they are fighting the war on terror, fighting to stop the spread of terrorism and keeping Americans safe and free from fear.

Locally, at an Arizona Stadium crowded with thousands of people, the national anthem is drowned out by the cheers of obnoxious drunk college students shouting, "F!#@ Purdue" at the top of their lungs.

Is it just me, or does something not add up?

The lack of respect during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to the game was one of the most disgusting displays of rudeness that I have ever seen. I understand that consuming huge amounts of alcohol before the start of the game has an effect on one's judgment, but starting a "U OF A! U OF A!" cheer in the middle of the national anthem is simply inexcusable.

Seeing these displays of disrespect got me thinking about what it really meant to be an American patriot, especially in these crucial times of war. Back in 1775, the famous quote from Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty or give me death," was spoken, creating a legacy of domestic pride that would prevail for years to come.

"Give me liberty or give me death." Theoretically, if we want to call ourselves "patriotic," we all have to be willing to die for our freedoms. However, with the exception of the brave troops overseas, not many people can say that they are willing to die to protect their liberties. Hell, 45.7 percent of Americans weren't even willing to vote in the last election to protect their liberties.

But perhaps I am being too extreme. I suppose that being patriotic doesn't necessarily mean that a person is willing to go so far as die for his or her country. Being patriotic can be as simple as supporting the beliefs and ideologies that our nation is based on and doing our best to live according to these beliefs.

This includes exercising the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, exercising freedom of speech to take a stand against ideas we do not support and doing our best to promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all people.

Allisyn Keyser

That's right. All people. This means putting aside prejudice against people of all ethnicities, religions and political parties. Muslim-Americans, blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, Catholics, Jews, Democrats, Republicans and even Purdue football players: We are all united as one in this great nation we call the United States (ironically enough). Yet for some it is difficult to see eye to eye with another person of a cultural minority.

This hatred against others of the same nationality has recently emerged in light of recent events such as Hurricane Katrina. Displaced students from Louisiana, having lost everything in the hurricane, came to the UA, hoping to continue their educations as best they could at a new college.

However, rather than being greeted with open arms, the hurricane victims, who "sneakily" came to the UA with no academic records whatsoever quickly became enemies of frustrated students desperate to get seats in filled up classes.

Further animosity that was brought out as a result of the hurricane is evident in the ongoing racial struggle, which is even more prominent in the South. There is the now somewhat famous newspaper photo caption, describing a white man looking for food as "finding" supplies and a black man looking for food as "looting."

Two people, performing the exact same action, but one is perceived as an innocent while the other is viewed as a thief. This is another example of the blind prejudice we have toward others. Mind you, not others in the al-Qaida terrorist group, but people in our own country who were suffering just as much as anyone else.

Such a response negates the age-old belief that all men are created equal, and in itself is possibly the most unpatriotic act a person can commit.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines patriotism as a "love or devotion to one's country." In the United States, people have no problem being devoted to the idea of this country - a global powerhouse to be reckoned with that will not meet the demands of terrorists.

The actual structure and people who make this idea so powerful, however, is heavily disrespected and ignored.

Herein lies the hypocrisy of patriotism.

Allisyn Keyser is a junior majoring in physiological sciences and creative writing. She can be reached at

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