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Pity poor John Cusack. The once successful actor, now relegated to what was once called "Straight to Video," when there was such a thing, caught some flak lately for his off-duty performance at a Cubs game. A local news outlet snapped a shot of the grumpy-looking celeb sitting in his seat during a pre-game tribute to the US military.
The implication, of course, was that the outspoken, often tiringly so, actor does not love his country. In true Cusack fashion, he responded with lots of profanity-ridden tweets about how he supports the troops, because he wants to bring them home, and that he stood, just "not on time, like an obedient pet."
John, you were great in Grosse Point Blank and High Fidelity. But you're not easy to admire as a person. To say you lack grace is a real understatement.
But you're a free citizen, and if you don't want to stand, you don't have to.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge supporter of the military. But, to be fair, the jingoism does tend to get laid on a bit thick at American sporting events. The man came to watch a freaking baseball game, not to see F-16s fly over to the tune of "We Will Rock You." It's not like he was picketing a soldier's funeral, or throwing dogshit on returning veterans. He's not Hanoi Jane Fonda, giggling while she poses with North Vietnamese anti-aircraft crews.
Cusack probably didn't like all the rigamarole that comes with mandatory patriotism. And even though I despise his Marxist bullshit in other respects, I have to say, on this one, I share his concern.
Demonstrative patriotism, like demonstrative love, is often a phony creature. Consider all those wildly cheering North Koreans we see every time the Fearless Leader sharpens a pencil. Are they all really that excited? How many of the people who stand without fail for the anthem, or for this tribute or that, really do anything tangible for their country? Consider how many people won't even get off their lazy asses and vote.
Silent patriotism, now that's what I admire. People who went out and joined the Army after 9/11? Those are patriots. People who volunteer to make their community better? Patriots. People who risk their lives in Emergency Service or Law Enforcement work? Patriots.
I've served my country. I enjoyed it for a long time and got paid well for it. But I did it for my country. I consider myself at least as patriotic, if not more so, than the man in the hockey arena who sings the anthem the loudest. And I took a special pride in keeping my mouth shut about it, at least most days.
Patriotism, the meaningful kind anyway, is not about what you say, but what you do. And respect for freedom is an important value that distinguishes true patriotism from empty, oppressive jingoism. Jingoism cheapens the coin of loyalty and encourages scoundrels and false patriots.
Part and parcel of true patriotism is the ability to tolerate the fly in the ointment, the irritating dissenter like Cusack who says, "Nope." He's an essential part of our freedom, whether we like it or not. He should be free to be as much of a jerk as he wants, without the cops hauling him away or Antifa smashing his head in. This goes for Glenn Beck, too, lefties.
Maybe Cusack's feet were bugging him that day. Maybe he was just annoyed with the whole thing. Or maybe, just maybe, he did what he did because he loves his country, too. Makes you think, doesn't it?
John Cusack is still a jerk in my humble opinion. But he's a jerk who can sit if he wants to.