When you say that patriotism has in some way turned into discrimination, backlash and extremely limited freedom of thought and expression, you are very right. Especially in smaller towns, where the generally lower international exposure and education make the population vulnerable to an ignorance of global politics, one must not only be a patriot but a follower in herd politics. The party affiliations in small towns are much stronger – people vote on party lines religiously and the views of on-high are viewed as just that, on-high. Since many in my area are Republican, it is a very dangerous thing to be very visibly pro-Democrat, because there are vicious smear campaigns and social silences toward the “victim”. Bush, naturally, is in supreme standing and is not one to be argued with; if he says a war is necessary to keep mom and pops safe with a chicken in every pot and a car in every driveway, then a war must be necessary. There is no room for disagreement for a disagreement means a break with the majority, and why should you know any better than a whole townful of Americans (with emphasis on the “American”)? In a place where you must be crazy to act Arab in public (the hicks get all riled up and call you sand n** and saddam lovers and baby killers) and being French means that all you’ll get is a wedgie while everyone forgets who supported them in their own struggle for independence way back when. And why should you question the government, whose every action is to protect our own American citizens? Who hides under the recently passed Official Secrets Act and now locks up presidential records “indefinitely” instead of just for 2 decades, for the purposes of national security? Who interferes in countries where it shouldn’t – Latin American overthrows (contras, Sandinistas), African barriers to Communism (Cold War, Afghanistan), Vietnam (as morale boosting easy war) – and then determines that for its own “security”, it must continue? Who chooses not to interfere in places where it should on the basis that the people can decide what they want to do with themselves – Rwanda, Liberia (where 2300 Americans wait off the coast watching the Liberians slowly get massacred off)? Who created a very illegal extensive satellite system to spy on all North American communications and then ignore the information it received and allowed 9/11 to happen? Who wasn’t afraid of ridiculing its supposed allies and the UN and then suddenly requests the UN’s help after shaming it, and blacking out 28 pages of a document to protect all those supposed “allies”? Whose largest ally suspiciously plugged a leak by “finding” the dead body of the chief researcher who signed off on findings of WMD’s in Iraq? From history, we learn that this patriotism is a vicious cycle. In times of danger, it is necessary to suppress freedom of thought and expression and promote a patriotism (sometimes morally repugnant) that will keep the country together and support its army to save itself – Germany with National Socialism, Russia in its revolutions, Christian Europe defending and attacking against Muslim Arabia. Seen from a larger picture, it is absolutely necessary from a political standpoint. While that is true, the individual freedoms that are supported in words by the American Constitution would be against that style of political rule; if we were to rebel and ask for our rights during times of crisis – such as during Afghanistan or Gulf War II – I am sure military tribunals, sedition laws and “national security” would be banded around like candy, because in the end, that is politically necessary for national survival as a power in the global checkerboard. So, while frustration is adamant and anger runs rampant, remember that survival is about adaptation, and tricky maneuvers. Global politics and power struggle requires that the nation have certain attitudes, and while we might suffer now, it is necessary in the long run. To fix our situation, though it will be very tricky, all one would have to do is save face and rebuild all by finding a scapegoat, blaming it on the scapegoat and then ridding oneself of the scapegoat. In this case, President Bush would be the scapegoat – but in reality, he is not to blame. It is only our past history, past attitudes and past image of ourselves within the grand scheme of things that forced him to act such and thus reinforce the herd mentality of our fellow Americans. So, accept, adapt and fight for what you believe in – because only then can we change the vicious cycle that is our fate and our history.