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Malcolm X and Patriotism

March 9, 2011

In his speech entitled “The Ballot or the Bullet,” Malcolm X states that he doesn’t even consider himself an American.  Although I understand where he was coming from when making this statement, feeling he and other African-Americans didn’t share the same full freedoms as the rest of the country, I still found it frustrating that a true American would say such a thing.  It is safe to say that Malcolm X wasn’t the only person in the 1960’s who felt this way, and there are certainly American citizens today who agree with his sentiment.  I believe this, an overall lack of patriotism, to be a major problem in this country.

I find that the average American citizen could care less about what goes on in this country based on extremely low voter turnouts in elections and the general lack of knowledge on what is happening in our government.  I also find that people are much quicker to criticize the government and its policies than praise our country for the many freedoms that we enjoy.  How can we expect to move forward and make this country a better place if we don’t vote?  How can we expect to make positive changes if we don’t care enough about the current state of the country?

I’ll be one of the first people to admit that America is far from perfect.  However, I’ll also be one of the first people to admit that America is the best country in the world.  In order for this country to get through its wide array of problems, we all must realize how fortunate we are to live here and be proud of it.  We as citizens enjoy more political freedom than in any other country and we need to take advantage of it.  We need to vote, we need to be active, and we need to show why the United States of America is the greatest country on Earth.

7 Comments
  1. Jeff DeClaire permalink
    March 9, 2011 10:39 PM

    I think this article brings up a very good and important point that many of us need to realize. Many Americans have negative views and beliefs to our government and our country as a whole. It is very disappointing considering that the people involved with the government are supposed to be the leaders of our country. I think one of the main reasons is the media. In this day and age, negativity seems to be talked about more than something positive. For instance, the everyday news is filled with deaths, robberies, and other sad stories, while talking little about anything optimistic. In addition, I think the separation of the political parties is growing and making us a divided nation. Some people absolutely hate another person if they do not follow the same political party. It is a sad truth that has become more and more evident as the years go on.

  2. apnash permalink
    March 10, 2011 10:08 AM

    I am not sure how it is that professing that America is the greatest nation in the world allows one to better work towards fixing its problems. I feel that as Americans we actually have a duty to be more critical of its current situation because, just like the individual is supposed to be the best judge of what they need, we are best able to see America for what it is. It is not unpatriotic to criticize America or claim that some other country might do something better than we do. It does not make me unpatriotic to point out that America has the second-highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world (http://articles.cnn.com/2006-05-08/health/mothers.index_1_mortality-rate-death-rate-world-s-mothers?_s=PM:HEALTH), that we are torturing prisoners at black-site prisons, or as you have that we have an apathetic voter base. Patriotism is not a blind allegiance to your country no matter what it does, it is loving it enough to do something about it. And I am sorry to say, simply claiming that America is the best nation in the world does nothing to make it true.

  3. Kendall Rhode permalink
    March 10, 2011 8:12 PM

    I can see why Malcolm X does not consider himself an American. American nationalism has been defined in history by the racial context in a time period. White Americans used racial logic in the beginning of our country with the Indians which set a precedent for all racial minorities. Black, Asians, and Irish have been persecuted in history through means of laws and acts of violence. Jim Crow laws and Japanese Interment camps dehumanized these races. If someone is going to to be discriminated against and attacked verbally and physically by Americans, they are not going to feel American themselves because they will not feel wanted.
    I think that today’s American society has advanced from the racial times and evolved into a much more welcoming community. Although there are still some problems, I truly do think we will reach a state of perfection one day.

  4. pmrobfraz permalink
    March 11, 2011 11:38 AM

    I find it hard to believe that you would be as patriotic as you are if these freedoms which you speak so highly of were taken away from you. You refer to Malcolm X as a “true American,” but in the statement preceding that you say that he and other African-American’s did not share the same freedoms as the rest of the country. What makes you a true American if you are not given the rights which the government promised you? If your right to vote was suddenly taken away by an impossible literacy test or an excessively high poll tax that you couldn’t afford, would you still be proud to be American? What about if you weren’t able to attend the school you wanted? Or sit wherever you pleased on the bus? Or eat in any restaurant? Although I agree that many people today take these freedoms for granted (specifically, the right to vote), without individuals like Malcolm X, who openly criticized America when it was necessary to do so, this country would not be where it is today. I think the fact that people are able and willing to point out the flaws of this country is beautiful and I am happy to live in a place where I have the right to do so.

  5. March 14, 2011 6:29 PM

    I thought that this was a very interesting topic to blog about. I completely understand where Malcom X is coming from when he states his opinion that he is not a true American. He believed that since he was not getting equal rights and liberties as other “Americans”, that he was not on their level. I also do agree that we need all Americans to be patriotic and full of proud spirit. America is one of the best countries in the world and should have full support of its people. The civil rights issues that Malcom x mentioned in his speeches, are not as strong today. Our country has made great strides in becoming more equal and better for people of all races. More people need to get involved and vote and let the government hear their voices.

  6. Robert Tepper permalink
    March 14, 2011 9:26 PM

    I understand where those are coming from when they disagree with my views, so I would like to clarify my points. I stated in the post that I would be one of the first people to admit that America is far from perfect. Yes, it is certainly important that we as citizens criticize our government in order to better our country. However, simply criticizing our government accomplishes nothing. More people need to get out and vote and be active in politics in order for any real change to occur. The fact remains that the level of patriotism in this country is very low. I strongly believe that the low sense of pride in our country and lack of mobilization will deter the United States from making positive strides. If people were more patriotic, I feel that they would be more likely to get involved and make a difference.

  7. davidpadalino permalink
    March 15, 2011 11:56 AM

    I really appreciate this blog post. You brought up a really good point on patriotism that many people seem to forget about nowadays. It seems that people tend to criticize the U.S just for the sake of bringing it down. I do believe that if you are American, you should recognize the fact that this is the best nation. Like you stated in your post, there are problems in the U.S, this isn’t a perfect country. But then again, there are people here who are trying to fight through these flaws, i.e governors attempting to repeal the national healthcare law.

    It’s looking beyond these superficial flaws that allows one to see the foundation of this country and the principles that make us the best nation in the world; our constitution and specifically the bill of rights. This is the document which single handedly sets us apart from everyone else. You don’t see us risking our lives trying to sneak over the border to Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of Immigrants in the early twentieth century weren’t just taking a casual boat ride to Ellis Island, they were selling all they had just for a chance to live under the stars and stripes. America may have its blemishes now and again, but that will never stop it from being the best, so long as we remain true to our principles set forth by the founding fathers.

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