I lived overseas just long to realize that I had to either come home or accept a kind of permanent status as an expatriate. I didn’t come home because I loved my country, though, I came home because I missed and loved my culture. I’ve never been a patriot, because, as the cliché says, it’s the last refuge of scoundrels.

A so-called “love” for a nation is more than a little creepy, and I can’t see much difference between a false patriotism and an authentic patriotism. There’s something inherently false about loving something as abstract and intangible as a nation. How can a nation be an object of love? It can’t.

What people really love is their culture in all it’s contradictory complexity: the music, the movies, the television, the food, and whatever else they might include on their lists. That’s what the 4th of July is about, behind the red, white, and blue buntings, the BBQ and the parades of government officials, firefighters, and children.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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