Saturday, November 4, 2017

Patriotism, Teams, and Tribes

I've got three stories for you, one I've told before.

A decade or two ago, I complained to the manager of the Aerobics Area of the Miami University (Oxford, OH) Recreational Sports Center that the Muzak was too loud (getting through both ear stopples and heavy-duty hearing protector muffs). Among other things, he asserted, "But it's your music, meaning classic rock, which was the general soundtrack for the growing up of my generation. I responded that "My music is music I can turn off."

Possibly also at the "RSC," a colleague sort of trapped me for a mild rant on his sense of betrayal by his team, the Cincinnati Reds, whose manager and upper-echelon coaching staff he believed incompetent. Eventually I smiled and asked "Then why don't you fire the manager and the least competent coaches?" He said, "I can't do that; only Marge Schott can do that." "Then it's not your team," I said; "it's Marge Schott's team."

Long before that, when I was in high school in Chicago, the senior class advisor accused me with, "You never take part in school activities." I told her that I was in Key Club, actually, and that she was angry with me because of something I'd done working for the senior class; but, okay, I did put most of my effort into non-school activities (I was an officer of a freaking charity and that was a serious commitment!). "I can never be elected principal," I finally told her, "and I put most of my efforts into groups where I have some influence ... the possibility of clout." (Offered a choice, I never wanted to be the president of an organization but a VP or secretary or such: someone with access to the president, someone who'd be consulted.)

I'm at an extreme here, growing up political in Chicago, and in the Cubs neighborhood to boot (where many became either fanatical fans or learned to enjoy Wrigley Field without getting emotionally involved with that baseball stuff we viewed from cheap seats). Movies I liked greatly, but otherwise I wasn't much into being a spectator.

Most Americans, I suspect, are mostly fans of the American Nation: what Trey Parker and Matt Stone called "TEAM AMERICA" (WORLD POLICE). Part of Tribe America: or a subgroup felt to be the real America. A minority of Americans, I think, want, primarily, to be citizens of the Republic, with at least the possibility of at least a tiny bit of influence. These are overlapping groups and don't have to be opposed. But those on the other extreme from me, people who identify with Team America as "one Nation, under God, indivisible" and monolithic — these folk are right to see small "r" republicans, Americans who want to be citizens of a republican state and not members of a tribe as competitors for the soul of America and deeply opposed opponents.

We are in one of those "hearts and minds" struggles, and it will not be pretty.

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