"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


What Patriotism Means to Me

I've been thinking about patriotism a lot lately. In the words of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) President Richard Schwartz, a quote from today's JVNA newsletter seemed to sum up my perspective on patriotism:
I believe that the highest form of patriotism and respect is to challenge one's country, people, and religion to live up to its highest ideals. Jonathan Wolf, founding president of JVNA, reminds me of the statement by Orthodox Rabbi Yitz Greenberg that: (paraphrasing) "one should be the most critical of and dissatisfied with and aware of the flaws and failings of one's OWN groups and movements and ideologies within Judaism--that loyalty and identification and belief require constructive criticism and attentive focus and acknowledgement of mistakes and shortfallings, and NOT blind support or uncritical, unquestioning endorsement!" (Jonathan's quote)
But there is more to patriotism than politics, activism, and challenging the status quo. Today I attended the season finale for a local AAA baseball team. Something about eating veggie dogs while watching baseball and trying to catch T-shirts shot out of a canon by a funny-looking mascot seems to embody the American spirit.

This is the week when Americans stand united. On Friday, U.S. Air Guitar Champion Craig "Hot Lixx Hulahan" Billmeier will compete in the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland. In June, Hot Lixx Hulahan won the U.S. crown with a dynamic medley of flamenco and Metallica. (Click here to see a video clip of his performance.) As I wrote on my calendar, next to four American flag stickers, "AMERICA SUPPORTS HOT LIXX HULAHAN." The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

"I remember being handed an American flag," Billmeier said of the victory celebration. "I remember being put up on someone's shoulders and the crowd started chanting, 'U.S.A., U.S.A.' "

"It was at that point," Billmeier said in his backyard, "that I realized I wasn't just doing this for myself. I was taking these guys' dreams with me."

Hot Lixx Hulahan, you've already captured the hearts of Americans. Now it's time to show Oulu just how hard Uncle Sam can rock!


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