By Madison S. Hughes (08.14.2011), Updated (09.22.2011)
Patriotism is a form of false pride for those who have nothing of their own of which they can be proud. It is little more than a tribal characteristic of banal instinct that provides a gratifying sensation of self-worth.
How can one be proud of being born within a particular geographical area of which they had absolutely no input? Clearly, reflective thought is not a part of this end. Reflective thought would require one to objectively evaluate the actions of their country, and the effect those actions have on them and the world as a whole. If one were to honestly do so, one, as I, would realize a great desire to expatriate to a less religious, more equitable country as one would find in Scandinavia and Western Europe.
In contemporary America, the Tea Baggers base their definition of what it is to be an American on geography and ignorance. They are not cosmopolitan by any stretch of the imagination, nor do they show any sign of cultural curiosity. They are simply demonstrating territorial instinct, as do others with similar cerebral deficits.
Patriotism to one’s country is understood, and need not be expressed. If one feels inclined to overtly express such, then one is expressing nationalism, not patriotism.
Zach Wahls, a 19-year-old University of Iowa student spoke about the strength of his family during a public forum on House Joint Resolution 6 in the Iowa House of Representatives. Wahls has two mothers, and came to oppose House Joint Resolution 6 which would end civil unions in Iowa.
In 2009, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger officially designated May 22 as Harvey Milk Day––even though the year before he vetoed the measure. What changed? “Milk has become much more of a symbol of the gay community,” explained Schwarzenegger’s spokesperson Aaron McLear, citing the award-winning film Milk and President Obama’s posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom as reasons for Schwarzenegger’s change of heart.
Today Gus Van Sant’s powerful portrait of the slain gay San Francisco leader still resonates as a profile in courage and a blueprint for social change. Sean Penn––who won an Academy Award for his performance––brilliantly embodies the passion, humor, and humanity of Harvey Milk. In our unsettled political times, the role of citizen-fueled resistance movements is greater than ever. In honor of this gay rights hero––and as part of Focus Features’ 15th anniversary celebration––we look at six powerful lessons modern-day activists can take away from Milk.