Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sucks to be you

I have always thought that patriotism is something invented by governments to brainwash their population into feeling good about themselves (usually at the expense of/in comparison to other countries), so that they will accept the governments' illegal and/or immoral acts without protesting too much, acts like attacking and invading another country, arresting and killing members of the opposition, arresting and confiscating the properties of certain ethnic groups of citizens, spying on their own citizens and censoring the medias, etc...

It has always irritated me to listen to chauvinistic people, like the French or the Americans, bragging about their countries, because, really, they have absolutely no part in their countries' successes, except by their accidental birth into those specific nationalities. I myself feel absolutely no pride in being Vietnamese or Canadian, nor for that matter do I feel any shame. I'm happy that Vietnam, my country of birth, is a geologically beautiful country with a strong and proud history and I'm happy that Canada, my country of adoption, is a geologically beautiful country with a civilized, democratic political tradition. But beyond that... I would have been just as happy to be an Italian, or a Kenyan, or a Tibetan.

Of course, there are some countries where the weather is so rough, or the land so harsh, or the governments so corrupt, that their citizens must sometimes wish they were born somewhere else. I used to think that I would hate to be Ugandan during the reign of Idi Amin. Now I think I'd be embarrassed to say I'm from the United States.

I don't even want to go to the United States! Mind you, to be completely safe, not only does one have to avoid the US, one must also avoid transiting through their airports. According to the New York Times, «foreign citizens who change planes at airports in the United States can legally be seized, detained without charges, deprived of access to a lawyer or the courts, and even denied basic necessities like food, lawyers for the government said in Brooklyn federal court yesterday [9 August]».

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