No automatic patriotism

Why would I attend the birthday party of a nation that just took my rights away?  We have nothing to celebrate, only things to protest. 

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A 5-year-old with a pair of round glasses with a short, brown bob cut sits in a kindergarten classroom in a northern suburb of St. Louis. The day is just beginning, and the teacher asks the class to stand to perform the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. 

As she places her right hand over her heart, she remembers what her atheist parents taught her: “You don’t have to say the ‘under God’ part. This is not a Christian country.”

She continues reciting the Pledge, line by line, with the rest of the kindergarteners until after they get to “Indivisible,” then goes silent for “under God.” This becomes her daily practice.

Fast forward to that girl as a teenager with long dyed blonde hair, now in a southern suburb of St. Louis, attending an affluent high school in a majority white community. Her school has invested more into sports than academics, so they have some of the highest-quality sports facilities of any high school in the state. Like any stereotypical US high school in the movies, this school hosts many, many sporting events. 

Every one of those sporting events—basketball games, football games, dance competitions, tennis matches, gymnastics meets, pep rallies, everything—starts with “Please rise for the National Anthem.”

The teenage girl starts to question why she is always expected to pay homage to the place she just so happened to be born in before participating in each public gathering. It starts to feel like being expected to pray before a meal. She decides to stay seated every time the National Anthem plays —she gets a lot of side-eye for it, but she doesn’t care. 

Fast forward to the present. That teenage girl is now a well-traveled woman with short red-dyed hair and a sharp tongue. She has lived as a digital nomad for two years. The woman happens to be back in the US as three devastating decisions come down from the Supreme Court: the rollback of Miranda rights, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the ruling to protect prayer in public schools. 

I’m that girl, now a woman. My patriotism has been unraveling since kindergarten. And I’m so grateful that my parents planted the seed in me when I was young because I never stopped questioning these nationalistic indoctrination practices. 

My questioning has led me on a global search for outside perspectives on US patriotism. As I’ve collected the thoughts from folks all over our planet, I’ve realized just how much indoctrination the average US kid is subjected to in their upbringing. The US government has committed some horrible, unforgivable human rights violations to people on our stolen soil and people of nations across the world. How could I take pride in my country after learning that? There’s no pride in aligning with the oppressor, a global bully who won’t think twice about snuffing out the humanity of those who challenge them. 

The nationalistic propaganda that we were subjected to led us straight into the stranglehold of white Christian nationalism. I am one of the 167.5 million uterus owners who have had their bodily autonomy stolen from them. If I don’t have freedom over my own body, what do I have that’s really, truly my own?

How can I still be human?

What motive do I have to pledge my allegiance to a nation that legally regards me as less than human? 

And unless I had Stockholm syndrome—which many people in the US do seem to have—why would I bother attending the birthday party of this colonized nation right after it took my rights away? 

Why would I bother attending the birthday party of this colonized nation right after it took my rights away? 

Independence Day? Whose independence? Certainly not that of Indigenous, Black, or Brown people, not that of people with uteruses, not that of people with disabilities, and not that of queer people. 

There is no freedom for these people. 

So, fuck the 4th. Fuck the barbecues and the fireworks. Fuck the unceremonious binge drinking.

We have nothing to celebrate, only things to protest. 

Instead, I will be participating in the #FarceOfJuly, an alternative to the US colonial commemoration that instead celebrates Native Americans and Indigenous people. Farce of July events started in Los Angeles in 1997 to raise funds for grassroots organizations that advocate for human rights and the environment, and they’ve been going strong ever since.

I hope you will join me in saying Fuck the 4th and participating in organized action against the Christian white nationalism that’s swallowing the US. 

anya overmann

Anya Overmann is a digital nomad, writer, activist, and lifelong Humanist. As former President of Young Humanists International, she continues to work to advocate for inclusive young humanist communities...