Patriotism Not Passé for This Celeb

These days, it seems that celebrities of all stripes -- singers, actors, and so on -- have bought into the idea that being proud to be an American is less than hip. Is it because they have to worry about selling their product to an international audience? Is it because they live in an isolated bubble, away from the thoughts and ideals of ordinary Americans? Or is it something else? I really can't say, but I do know that more often than I care to think of, pampered celebrities often jump at the chance to say negative things about America. And not just in the privacy of their own homes, but to a ready and waiting media outlet. Here are a few examples from recent years:

"Our country is founded on a sham: our forefathers were slave-owning rich white guys who wanted it their way. So when I see the American flag, I go, ‘Oh my God, you're insulting me.' That you can have a gay parade on Christopher Street in New York, with naked men and women on a float cheering, 'We're here, we're queer!' -- that's what makes my heart swell. Not the flag, but a gay naked man or woman burning the flag. I get choked up with pride." - Janeane Garofalo

"Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." - The Dixie Chicks

"I beg you, help save America before yours is a legacy of shame and horror." - Sean Penn

"It is an embarrassing time to be an American. It really is. It's humiliating." - Jessica Lange

"You know I just, I just came back from Moscow, Berlin, London, and Paris and it's the first, I've been there quite a few times in the past five to 10 years. And it just hasn't been a good thing to be American. And this is the first time, since Barack has gotten the nomination, that it, it was a good thing." - Will Smith

"Sometimes I'll be walking down the street [in Paris] and I'll hear some American and I'll just go, ‘Of course they hate us, of course they can't stand us.'" - Kate Hudson

"They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet . . . in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy]. We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don't know about anything that's happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing." - Michael Moore

Trust me; this is just a smattering of the anti-American rhetoric that the unwashed masses are treated to by those whose massive fortunes were made right here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. But don't get me wrong: despite what Tim Robbins - he of the "chill wind blowing"
fame - might say to the contrary, I'm not suggesting that these folks be silenced. It's their God-given right to declare that not only are they embarrassed to be Americans, but that America is the worst country in the history of the planet.

Nevertheless, it's highly refreshing when a celebrity with a worldwide following isn't afraid to announce that he's not only proud to be an American, but is proud to represent this country in the Olympics.

NBA star Kobe Bryant, a member of the US Olympic basketball team (being cheesily referenced to by the press as "the Redeem Team"), was asked by NBC announcer Chris Collinsworth about his experience in representing America at the summer games in Beijing (emphasis added):

Collinsworth: Tell the story when you first got your USA uniform.

Kobe: Well I had goosebumps and I actually just looked at it for awhile. I just held it there and I laid it across my bed and I just stared at it for a few minutes; just because as a kid growing up this is the ultimate, ultimate in basketball.

Collinsworth: Where does the patriotism come from inside of you? Historically, what is it?

Kobe: Well, you know it's just our country, it's... we believe is the greatest country in the world. It has given us so many great opportunities, and it's just a sense of pride that you have; that you say "You know what? Our country is the best!"

Collinsworth: Is that a ‘cool' thing to say, in this day and age? That you love your country, and that you're fighting for the red, white and blue? It seems sort of like a day gone by(?)

Kobe: No, it's a cool thing for me to say. I feel great about it, and I'm not ashamed to say it. I mean, this is a tremendous honor.

Video of this exchange can be found here. Note the smirk on Collinsworth's face when he asks Bryant if it's "cool" to admit that he's proud to be a patriot. I can just hear his thought process: "Can Kobe really be this much of a square? No way. Let me see if I can get him to ‘nuance' his position."

And yet the press wonders why Americans have so little respect for them...

Bryant has been criticized in some quarters recently because he's considering leaving the NBA for a bigger paycheck playing in Europe. As disappointing as that would be for basketball fans, it's his life and his bank account. If banking a larger paycheck is more important to him than playing for the NBA, than it's his prerogative. (Do we question the motives of players like Yao Ming choosing to earn their living on American shores? Or are we just happy to have them helping our favorite teams to win?)

Yet despite him having his eye on greater financial gain in Europe, I have no doubt that if given the opportunity in 2012, Kobe Bryant would once again proudly don the red, white and blue uniform of the US Olympic team. And he probably won't waste time worrying whether self-important media mavens don't think he's "cool" for getting goosebumps.

Pam Meister is the editor of and a contributing writer for Pajamas Media. The opinions she expresses here are her own.