When I was a kid, I was incredibly patriotic. Part of it was that I was taught to be, and what I remember learning in school was the idea that patriotism means a loyalty to the land where you live. As an American, that definition was essential in explaining how seceding from England could be considered patriotism rather than treason. I am sketchy on the details of how it worked back then, but I think the "federal government" would've resided in England, and there were local governments stateside. In other words, being loyal to your country, loving your country, had nothing to do with agreeing with whoever governed it. But today when we talk about other places, or they talk about us, it seems that that is what they mean.
George W. Bush was the face of America, and now Obama is. Besides the President, there may be a few actors here and there, a few of the lowest common denominator trends (reality TV, TMZ, ironic purchases, kitsch), and maybe a few stereotypes about different regions. The Southern states, Texas, New York and California. Someone that's not from there, that hasn't been there, they still tend to think they know what the people are like. Maybe after enough time being inundated with images of America, we tend to believe it. We exclude ourselves from it, because on an individual basis, or at the level of the family or friends, we're not like that. "That's not us." But we believe that the other hundred million strangers out there could very well be.
I don't at this point. I've spent enough time out there talking to people, just meeting someone on the street in everyday life, or having a job that helped me meet strangers, that I can understand this illusion that has been fabricated. There are a lot of great, unique people everywhere in America, and America is nothing to hate. Not only that, more and more of what is possible here provokes my greater love for this country. One example: not only can you purchase a course to learn all of the ins and outs of hacking, from the malicious side and the benevolent, but you can then get paid very well for your services. Hacker is a job here. Penetration Tester, Red Team Leader, Wargaming and Operations Research Analyst - these are all jobs. How do you not love this place?
In anticipation of any injustices you could list, I've got a strong feeling that America is only getting better, freer, awesomer. When I die this will be the best place in the world.