I never cared one wit about soccer and surely never called it football. The Patriots were football but soccer was not a part of my life until it was one week ago. I am now in love with that sport and seduced by the nationalistic feeling it engenders. I usually eschew extreme nationalism and American exceptionalism as they are not part of my repertoire of thought. I reject it for more intellectually careful well thought out politics and reject the often fascistic brutality that is part of the essence of extreme nationalism.
But I caught the FIFA World Cup soccer fever and built my Sunday around a game between the US and Portugal. Portugal tied it in the last second and I thought I got hit by a truck as I watched the American team snatch a defeat-like tie from the hands of victory. I actually cried. I was at first sad and then childlike angry that the USA lost-like tie.
I do not like mindless, uncritical nationalism the kind where one accepts national behavior no matter who it hurts. I am Nuremberg wary and careful to laud policy I think humane and decry policy I think viciously brutal. But on this day I surprised myself. I cried at the national anthem, I cried at the enthusiastic rooting of the USA supportive crowd and I cried when America tied. It would have been a USA come-from-behind win that was not to be. My disappointment was palpable.
So, is it just a silly game or was it something more? I decided it meant something more. I am tired of America losing; I am tired of the endless national discord, disputed foreign policy and wars that make things worse; that kill so many or maim them for life so that others can buy oil and make the oil barons and their political lackeys very rich. I am tired of America getting kicked in the teeth; I am tired of hearing the curse of other nations when so many here have paid so much for policy that was so brutally bad over there.
I watched the ceremonies during the Normandy remembrance when we were blessed and loved by the nations we lifted up from the jackboot of tyranny; when we saved the masses from a world that went viciously insane. My father, a Republican at heart, loved FDR. It was to be the only thing political upon which he and I agreed. Though I never knew that president I loved him too. I went to Hyde Park, and stood at his, Eleanor and their dog Fala’s graves and cried. I want an America like that once again. I want us to stand for something and not have to question the veracity of politicos who never served a day in their life sending men and women to their deaths based on lies. I want an FDR again, I want a humane nation again, I want to feel pride about my nation again which stood then for what was moral, good and right.
I let FIFA World Cup Soccer allow me the privilege of fervent nationalism and cheered my country on wanting it to win. I want it to win again and I want other nations to love us again. I want to return to a WWII afterglow when it seemed all things were possible and most everything good was made in America. I want things to be made in America again.
But it felt like we lost today yet again. The FIFA World Cup game was a metaphor allowing me to recapture a patriotism that lies just beneath the surface waiting for the next FDR to free us and the world to love us once more. I want us to win again one more time before my own generation comes to its end.