Swelling With Pride


In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving

America is not perfect. Never was, never will be. That does not mean that she – and those who love her – should not strive toward perfection.

From time to time, concerned citizens of the United States point out her imperfections, not to – as is claimed by some – “bash the country” (although there are some here who do just that), but to help America become better – become more perfect – by learning what the problems are. You cannot cure an illness if you have not diagnosed it.

America’s imperfections seem to come out much more prominently during a presidential election, as candidates from various parties point out to the electorate what is wrong with America and how he or she can fix it, for the good of all.

This is not to say that there is nothing right with America. Far from it. In fact, there is no better place on this earth to live than in America. I am blessed to the core – and am truly thankful – for being born and raised in America.

That being said, it still does not mean that I can’t faithfully point out how America has fallen short of her lofty ideals. It is out of profound love for the country that I point out this thing or that. It is not being “unpatriotic” to do so.

Yet, all that talk about what’s wrong with America goes completely away when it comes to the Olympic Games. Watching our various athletes compete and win in Beijing makes we swell with pride, and joy, and love for my country.

I nearly screamed at the top of my lungs when American swimmer Jason Lezak overtook the Frenchman Alain Bernard in the Men’s 4×100 relay to win the gold medal. “You’re gonna smash the Americans, eh?” I sneered at the television screen when they won.

And it is nothing short of breathtaking to see Michael Phelps win gold after gold and shatter world record after world record. It makes me so proud of him and our country, even though I don’t know him personally. The whole country swims with him and his other teammates every time they take to the pool.

The same goes with all the athletes competing on our behalf at the Olympic Games. I smiled with glee when the American men took Bronze in the Gymnastics team event. I was profoundly disappointed – but simultaneously proud – that the American women’s gymnastics team did not win the gold medal but instead won the silver. No matter what the sport, I am rooting 100% for the Americans, because, America is my country; America is my home; America is where I belong.

And I don’t see how Islam says I should not be so. Islam does not suffocate one’s ethnic identity and national origin. It embraces it and purifies its good aspects. I am American Muslim, both fully American and fully Muslim. The two are not mutually exclusive and never were, no matter what some in this country may whisper to the contrary.

If ever the American volleyball team were to play the Egyptian team in the Olympics or other venue, I would be rooting for…the Americans, even though I am of Egyptian ancestry. Indeed, the players on the Egyptian team are of the same ethnic origin as me and will most likely be my co-religionists, making them my brothers in faith.

But I am an American, and America is my team. I would be cheering for the Americans the whole time, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Yes, America is not perfect. Never was, never will be. But, during these Olympic Games, we put aside our petty differences and policy disagreements and rally behind our athletes, who work so hard and compete so tirelessly to elegantly represent our nation upon the world stage.

And even if they do not win a single medal, they are still winners to me. For they show the world our best face, the face of our young men and women who overcome overwhelming odds and accomplish amazing feats of athleticism and sport. Of every last one of them, I – and the rest of the country with me – am completely and utterly proud.

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