An American flag waving. Typically devotion and patriotism go hand in hand, but they can also lead to issues and arguments. PUBLIC DOMAIN

An American flag is often used as a symbol of patriotism. Politicians and celebrities are using the devotion implied in patriotism to discredit all critics rather than addressing the criticism they receive.  PUBLIC DOMAIN

What could possibly possess a person to go topless in subfreezing temperatures simply to get maybe two seconds on national television? Fandom. That person usually has a Green Bay Packers logo crudely scrawled across his gut and is a shade of purple often reserved only for crayons.  

The power of being a vehement supporter of anything is a unique phenomenon and is something that a person unfamiliar with the sensation could feel threatened by. It’s why a lot of the Iraq War patriotic chest-banging still resonates today, nearly 14 years later. If you questioned the intentions of the Patriot Act you supported terrorism. It is also where the genesis of Donald Trump’s political career lies, in the “no one does anything better than me” philosophy. From his standpoint, you’re either his fan, or the enemy. There is not room for criticism. This ugliness is not anything new, but it was formerly reserved for hooligans chanting crass things at each other at soccer matches.

The political forum was once a realm for ladies and gentlemen, but it has disintegrated to the point of questioning the president’s place of origin and devotion to their country. The way to churn up support from constituents isn’t to propose a vision for leadership but to simply minimize the opposition’s beliefs. This is something that organized religion, politicians and sports fans could are all using. 

Rudy Giuliani, formerly “America’s mayor” and now a babbling madman, really said, “I do not believe that the president loves America,” and that “he doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country,” about President Obama. He said this to a conservative audience at a Scott Walker campaign event.

This is where the right has truly embarrassed itself, cloaking everything in patriotism and if it is questioned in the slightest bit, you’re immediately a traitor that should fester in Guantanamo. When France was opposed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to remove Saddam Hussein from power, it incited those who supported the war. Republican congressmen responded by acting like petulant children having the House of Representatives’ cafeterias remove references to “french toast” and “french fries” in favor of “Freedom Fries” and “Freedom Toast.” With the French not interested in a likely quagmire, American opponents sought to shame their lack of devotion to freedom which is preposterous.

All too often this is the avenue of approach to validate one’s own views instead of actually disproving the opposition. It is common practice within sports fanbases to cannibalize themselves by questioning others’ devotion to the team. The most common insult is “you’re not a real fan,” that you haven’t been through the ringer when the team was bad, so you don’t get the right to enjoy the team’s success. That by being a facetious fan you’re undermining what it actually means to be a fan.

And of course most recently Meryl Streep’s lecture from her soapbox about the evils of MMA and football plays on this blind devotion. She shared her opinion that the arts were far superior and more important than sports, followed by asking how the country could possibly support someone who wants to get rid of the people who make artistic productions? This is the wrong avenue of approach – by attacking a perfectly legitimate form of entertainment, Streep came off as holier than thou. 

Questioning someone else’s devotion and trying to insult or bully your way into being right is the easy way out. It’s unbecoming to argue in such a fashion because it doesn’t provide credence to the point you were trying to make. It just undermines the debate and turns adults into children.