I’m a diehard Big Orange fan. I watch every Tennessee football, basketball, and women’s basketball game I can. When my teams win I feel great; when they lose I feel sad…

Now, I know big time college athletics is corrupt, a sacred cash cow with a thousand teats spewing money.  I know most of Tennessee’s football players hale from out of state, just mercenaries here only for the chance to get the big bucks in the NFL. I know its the same with basketball. “Show me the money!” My late (first) father-in-law put it best – he was a huge North Carolina fan – “they may be sons of bitches, but they’re our sons of bitches…”

Somehow, however, once the kickoff happens, or the opening tip, I willfully  forget what I know and avidly root for our brave boys in orange as they struggle against those villains in red, or blue, or gold. Go Big Orange! Go Big Orange!!

I have the same schizophrenic attitude about America. I was born and raised in the good old USA. I love our flag and our other national icons. I grew up cheering John Wayne in countless war and western flicks and reading sanitized history textbooks glorifying  our very checkered past (how amazing it now seems that native Americans were portrayed in popular culture as savages who attacked us without provacation). My country right or wrong! I was your typical flag waving, toy gun toting, jingoistic America kid…

Then I went up north to college and began to learn about a different America. The catalyst was the war – the Vietnam War. I learned our troops weren’t the wholesome samaritans sacrificing to save our brave Vietnamese allies as I had been led to believe…  I learned the Gulf of Tonkin incident – the justification for the massive escalation of the war – was a government lie. Later I learned about My Lai.

Then came Nixon and Watergate; we all learned our government was venal at the very highest levels. Now we know our national legislature is awash in corporate and insider cash that buys influence and more. Now we know our government still lies about the need to go to war. Now we know our nation has caused the death of tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now we know our national leaders have condoned and forgiven torture, sanctioned due process free detention and execution of American citizens.

A near majority of my fellow citizens applaud torture (when we are the torturers). Despite the lessons of Iraq, my fellow Americans want war with Iran and care next to nothing for the Palestinians. Our police beat protesters and spy on Muslims. An alarmingly large slice of America believes our President is an alien (in both senses of the word).

Around the world people are repulsed by our policies: the uncritical support for Israel, our bellicose support of tyrannical regimes, and our smug sense of entitlement on the world stage. But I still love America, its red, white and blue flag, the White House, the Washington Monument, the Star Spangled Banner, apple pie,  spacious skies, and amber waves of grain.

When we invaded Iraq I was aghast. I believed the war to be immoral and stupid – but when the war kicked off I started rooting for the troops all the same. How like a game it was! And our team was winning, really running up the score!

I rooted for our brave boys the same way I root for the Big Orange.


Photo by fusky, remixed by me, both images subject to this creative commons license 

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