Illustration by Ryan Alexander-Tanner

IF YOU LIVE in Portland, this (or some version of this) has happened to you: You're having a great time at a party, talking about Breaking Bad or about how you should start a screenprinting business or about the HOW 'BOUT THE WEATHER and somebody walks up to you and wants to talk about how the United States of America isn't the greatest country in the world anymore. They'll barf out some facts about how we're 53rd in eggplant consumption or how about how way fewer of our kids are faeries than Icelandic kids. They want to ruin your night because they finally read that Howard Zinn book they bought in college.

Sure, we're a flawed country and maybe we aren't the greatest country on earth, but only because there's no such thing as the greatest country on earth. Every individual person has their own individual version of what makes a country great. Perhaps your idea of a great country is a place where one human can run into the woods and another can follow them with a crossbow with the intention of hunting, killing, and eating that person—then maybe the Ukraine is for you. I don't know what they do there (apologies to anyone from the Ukraine reading this, please don't hunt me with your crossbow). The world is beautiful, I hear. I mean, it must be. Everyone is always going to El Salvador. Thailand pictures STAY in my Facebook timeline. People in Portland are great at appreciating the rest of the world, but this week, as we celebrate our Independence Day (WELCOME TO EARTH), let's take a minute to appreciate Ol' Big Mama Freedom-Guns. (Is that a nickname for the United States? It's not? I'm not going back and fixing it.)

We have a tendency to apologize for America, and fuck yeah, sometimes we should. We're fucking up people with joystick robot dragons. Let's not forget that we are also America. We haven't clung to a star-spangled identity as fervently as some of the people we might disagree with, but it's our birthright (or moved-here-eventually-right) just the same. You don't need a fucking signed letter from Toby Keith to be proud of your country. Is it happening in America? Then it's American. Massive dodgeball games full of sweaty, underemployed bass players that take over tennis courts are American. Two guys HJ-ing each other in an alley behind the Silverado is American. Are you rolling your eyes at this column? If you're an American, then rolling your eyes at this column is American. If you live here, you're part of all of this, so rep your shit. Apologize for whatever you want, but you live here for a reason, you haven't left yet, so I know there's something you like about Ol' Big Mama Freedom-Guns.

Roll into your Fourth of July party knowing the watermelon wouldn't be there without the exploitation of day laborers, smirk at the fudge-cheeked gluttony of a people who would celebrate the hot dog, make some vague, forced analogy about fireworks and our warlike nature. Then try to think about the people and things that make you put up with all that disgusts you, and give thanks that nobody is chasing you around with a crossbow.