I’m not the kind of person who chants “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” — so much so that I managed to watch a number of #USMNT World Cup matches in the company of others and never once felt the urge to join them in chanting the proud acronym of my home country.
Yes, I love the United States, but that particular expression of adoration just makes me uncomfortable. Probably has something to do with the fact that it’s often directed at people like Puerto Rican RNC officials, men kissing, predominantly-Hispanic high school basketball teams, buses full of immigrant women and children, and doubtless countless others. In other words — specifically, the words of Ruben Navarette — “it is used to put another group of Americans in its place by implying — solely because of race, ethnicity, heritage or skin color — that they’re not real Americans or “not American enough.” That’s certainly not very nice.
But even when the target is actual, verifiable, cold-blooded un-Americans — say, at international sporting events — there is still good reason to consider U-S-A! nothing more than an “infantile display of hyper-patriotism“. In case you need more reason for my dislike, I will simply note that according to Wikipedia, “U-S-A! is a chant . . . first documented at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany” — and those were pretty much the worst Olympics of all time. All time.
That said, there is one context in which I feel fully comfortable and justified in partaking of the unfortunate chant: Seattle Mariners home games against the Toronto Blue Jays. Yankees fans are annoying, Red Sox fans are the worst, but Blue Jays fans just need to go back to Canada. Every time they flock to Safeco for Toronto’s one visit a year, Mariner fans feel like visitors in their own home. That’s certainly not very nice either.
See all these dejected-looking people (final score: 11-1, Seattle) wearing blue? Blue Jays fans in Safeco Field:
And they’re not there because they hail from Toronto, home of the Blue Jays. They came simply because they are from Canada. You see, Seattle is only three or so hours from the border with our northerly neighbor, and because Seattle is much closer to large swaths of Canada than is Toronto, Blue Jays flock to our fair city.
Sure, Seattle may sit at a higher latitude than fifty percent of Canada’s population (this is not hyperbole), and happen to also be situated near beautiful mountains, but these people from Vancouver and Calgary and Regina prefer to root for the team that shares all the same passports and none of the same culture.
I suppose in one sense, coming to Seattle rather than traveling all the way to Toronto is a surprisingly environmentally-friendly choice for a region that spends the rest of its time developing and exporting the dirtiest accessible fossil fuels on the planet.
But that doesn’t excuse the fact that these people root for the Blue Jays rather than the nearer-by Mariners or Twins in the first place. Baseball teams are affiliated with cities, not countries. What did you all do ten years ago when there were also Montreal Expos? How ever did you choose? Did you root for both? Have your loyalties switched from one distant East Coast city to another so quickly?
So fine, Canada — even after your beloved Expos moved to America’s capital and were rechristened the Nationals, you still want to be unthinkingly nationalist? Two can play this game. (Unlike baseball, which apparently the Blue Jays cannot. Lookit that — just lost again!)
Here’s the thing: It’s not that I think Seattle represents the United States — heck, the two best Mariners on the field last night hail from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. But I also know what the Mariners apparently do not represent: Canada. So if those Canadians want to come into my house, make me listen to their anthem (only in English, hmmm…), and cheer the visiting team simply because they are Canadian, then I will feel no compunction chiming in gustily to proudly declare that I am not:
That said, Seattle, we might need to chat about that other chant that happens every time King Felix takes the mound: