Yes, I'm Questioning Your Patriotism

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When “Don’t question my patriotism!” became the imperative of choice for the stylish liberal in the run-up to the 2004 election, I was a doctoral student at Harvard.  The very same faculty who spent half their time indicting the United States as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism struck an indignant pose when they imagined their patriotism was under review.  Whether they were offended at the allegation that they did not love their country, or offended at the suggestion that they should, varied from professor to professor.

Now, I can imagine the outrage of my liberal friends as they prepare to tell me how the Star-Spangled Banner brings a lump to their throats and a soaring feeling to their hearts.  So let me clarify that I’m not questioning the patriotism of Democrats.  Plenty of Democrats have demonstrated their patriotism beyond reproach.  Neither am I attacking all liberals, or all ultra-liberals.  I’m not attacking anyone.  It’s no sin to be unpatriotic.  This is merely an observation that many of liberalism’s intellectual elites are (1) deeply uncomfortable with the concept of patriotism, and (2) find America especially undeserving of love and loyalty.

Is Patriotism Really a Virtue?

The answer of course depends on the meaning of the term.  The liberal elites of whom I speak witness public displays of patriotism amongst the masses and fear that that kind of patriotism is tantamount to nationalism, and it leads to war and totalitarianism because it persuades the benighted masses to defend their country and support their leaders without question.  Flags and lapel pins and the pledge of allegiance, not to mention Memorial Day and Independence Day, are just so many pieces of propaganda that serve to raise children in automatic loyalty to the machinery of the state.

In fact, many of my ultra-liberal colleagues wondered whether the time had come to leave behind national loyalties altogether and cultivate a more global consciousness.  Aren’t national loyalties behind so many of the conflicts we have fought?  Aren’t they behind the countless ways in which strong countries exploit the weak?  Aren’t they relics of a less interconnected age, an age when we knew nothing and imagined the worst of people who lived on the other side of the world?  Now we reside in the global village.  The problems we face are global in scope, and require global solutions.  If we do not see ourselves first and foremost as “citizens of the world,” then we’ll never to put aside our short-term provincial interests and pursue what’s ultimately best for all.

This is an important conversation to have.  Do some forms of patriotism encourage unquestioning obedience, while others are more salutary?  Or, as we’ve discussed at length at Patheos’ Evangelical Portal, what differentiates patriotism from nationalism, or patriotism from idolatry?  Many Christian intellectuals, especially progressives, have wondered whether it’s appropriate for Christians to harbor national loyalties at all, or whether they become objects of worship or obstruct commitment to the kingdom of God.

Does America Deserve Our Loyalty?

I’ll say more on the definition of patriotism shortly — but hard-core liberals in academic circles question not only the concept of patriotism, but devotion specifically to America.  It was easy to see that many of these same academics would have found patriotism much more natural if they had lived, say, in Switzerland or Denmark or the France of Jacques Chirac.  Again, this is less a criticism than an observation.  Given their way of viewing the world, given what they believed about America, how could they feel otherwise?

According to the standard far-Left narrative, America was birthed in bloodshed and the extermination of the native population, founded by slave-owning white “fathers,” grew and expanded through conquest and slave labor, polluted the world, exported its brand of exploitative capitalism at gunpoint, used the Cold War to justify a series of global military misadventures, and even now continues to perpetuate sexism and racism, rape the third world, poison the earth, and make the wealthy wealthier and the poor poorer.  Given this view of America, why should they be patriotic?

The Left likes to claim — another Patheos blogger, Roger Olson, made the case just yesterday — that there are some on the Right who “reject as disloyal all criticism” of country or government.  I’ve never met such a person.  The Right presently seems perfectly willing to criticize government (or have they thought it disloyal to criticize the Obama administration?), and I’ve met none on the Right who do not agree that slavery and our treatment of Native Americans were horrible wrongs.  But let us grant that there are some on the Far Right who turn a blind eye to the faults of the country — if others will grant that the Far Left turns a blind eye to America’s virtues and achievements.

Patriotism, in my definition, is a love of country that comprehends the country’s faults as well as its virtues, and that compels criticism of government when it ill-serves the country and support of government when it serves the country well.  Yet I met many in the lovely groves of academe who were so seized the country’s faults that they could not see its virtues.  They even disliked America for aesthetic and religious reasons; after visits to Europe, they found Americans so crude, so gauche, so unsophisticated and so backwardly religious.  It’s hard to be proud of America when you’re ashamed of Americans.

As one such colleague told me before Independence Day, “How can I celebrate a country that’s done the things our country has done?”  When I pointed to all of the remarkable achievements and contributions of our nation, she found convenient ways of dismissing them.  When I explained why I believe that the United States has done extraordinary good for humankind, she was astonished that anyone should say such a thing.

In a sense, I can’t blame her.  It was no character flaw that inspired her anti-patriotism.  Her caricature of America’s history and character was merely a product of her education.  It is an ideological disease that has overtaken some precincts of ultra-liberal academia, especially in the humanities, and infected the way in which American history was taught to her.  Given what she believed of America, how could she be patriotic?

So rather than railing against the anti-patriotism of the ultra-liberal elites, it’s imperative that we teach a better history.  Not a history that ignores the faults, because someone like my colleague will reject it out of hand.  A history that acknowledges those faults, places them in context and perspective, and points just as fulsomely to our achievements.  But let’s begin there — not with silly posturing over who swoons more over the Star-Spangled Banner.  For those who do not love America, simply say so.  Then we can have a frank conversation about whether America and her people are deserving of affection and loyalty.

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • Ben Hammond

    Good article.

    Much of my distaste of America is not from an inability to the good that America has done, but from the hiding of the bad. It would be easier for me to take take my country seriously if there was more transparency (and apologies) for mistakes that have been made. That’s what I have a problem with: we elevate the good, and (more often than I’m comfortable with) hide the bad. And when the country does come clean about something, it often seems calculated, partial, and not solely for the purpose of doing the “right thing.”

    One could say that the “bad” is right out there in the open and not hidden, but it’s not the government that’s put it there – it’s others. And more often than not, the government doesn’t acknowledge it, even if there is clear evidence for the claim.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Fair enough. Well put.
      -Tim

    • Capitalist Infidel

      And who is “hiding the bad?”

      • Grace Omalley

        Actually Ben is quite right. History is being hidden, but what he is wrong about is the who. Professional Left Wing historians who write our history books leave out the history that reflects badly on Progressivism/liberalism or they blame those things that were done by the same on conservatives.
        How many times in an American history book will you read that Woodrow Wilson re-segregated the Federal Departments in Washington DC or that he relished the movie Birth of a Nation as true history and screened it in the White House. When it does come up it is dismissed as Wilson simply being a son of the south. The curious thing about that is then how does one excuse Herbert Croly, founder of The New Republic, was little more than a proto fascist, whose very progressive father coined the word miscegenation when he penned a pamphlet pretending to be an abolitionist when in fact he was a Copperhead, the pamphlet was praising the idea of whites and blacks marrying as a way to assimilate blacks into the country. This was done as a way to discredit the abolitionists. Speaking of which how many are taught the whole story of American Transcendentalists, some of whom funded the murderous John Brown and helped spark the Civil War? Kind of like today’s progressives funding Palestinians against Israel. Would you ever think of Henry Ford as a Progressive? However did you know that he funded a “peace ship” during WWI and was seen as an example of a good progressive in his time frame? Well until the socialists decided he wasn’t, especially after he didn’t gracefully accept unions. The really funny part of that is Upton Sinclair found time to play tennis with Ford when both were in California. Yet Sinclair is remembered as an adversary of Ford. Did you know Ford received the Iron Cross from Adolf Hitler?

        How about how many leftists of their time believed in reservations for American Indians in order to protect them and their land from rapacious whites? They didn’t want assimilation but a separate sphere for them, when that was ineffective the do gooders decided that removing Indian children from their families and forcing them into white schools where they lived away from their family for months at a time was a grand idea.

        Or how about for the standards of their time the Rockefellers were great progressives, in fact, were likely the largest funder of eugenics in this country as well as Germany, that eugenics was a progressive baby, conservatives, particularly religious ones, warned repeatedly against such a thing. The first law on forced sterilization was in Indiana after being championed by a progressive preacher. Take a look at “Preaching Eugenics”.

        Rockefeller did nothing worse then follow the plan laid out by Herbert Croly in The Promise of American Life. In fact if you read the book you will find that the early industrialists were very progressive, except for the union thing, which is where the more socialist and less social democrat split, eventually under the auspices of FDR the union faction won, and the others became relegated to history as conservatives or “the right”. Under today’s rules the man who made The Nation magazine a flagship of the left, would be of the right.

        You see Ben, as time turns the rules of who is the Righteous Left changes, but the moral fervor with which they demand the rest of us live by their rules does not.

        There is so much history that is hidden simply by omission that I could go on and on. But if you really want a wake up call I suggest you do an in-depth study of the various streams of leftism this country has produced and read as much original material as possible. Then you tell me whose been hiding what.

    • Doug

      How much more apology do you need from our Republic that has given us all (AND THE WORLD) so much? From the 13th amendment, World wars, (obligatory) civil rights legislation….and the guarantee of the individual liberty that drives people to risk their lives to participate in this beautiful blessed Country called America. What level of “apology” and to who would you determine enough to say that your ‘patriotism’ has been met?

      I think it sad that people like you think Patriotism is a curse word other then something to rally around…

    • Andy

      This is still the best country in the world in just about any aspect you can think of (aside from responsible economics). I don’t pretend America has made mistakes, it’s also evolved and moved on to do great things. How exactly do the liberal socialist progressives plan to exact vengeance for all the bad things that happened here. Then ask, what about the countries that are worse? They get a pass, of course.

      • Andy

        I don’t pretend America has <> made mistakes

    • Steve

      Mr. Hammond, Who can hide the “bad” with people like you around exposing it to the exclusion of the “good?”

    • GWB

      What bad has the government not acknowledged? Slavery? Jim Crow? What? Please enlighten me as to what the government has covered up that is so horrible as to provide you a reason for your “distaste” with America?

      • tony

        there is much about American history that is not taught or publicized, that only people who dig for it find. The treatment of the Philippines by the US was rather horrendous, yet hardly anyone I know has ever heard of it. Also the US role in numerous dictatorships in latin America under the guise of protecting against communism were also rather horrendous. the author makes light of US imperialism both economic and military, but they ar both real and have had serious repercussions. the Bush Admin was kind of a throwback to that way of thinking and brought much more immediate disaster than they imagined.
        I do agree that there are many who discover these things and then ignore the great things accomplished by our country the great good that has been create in wealth and ideals. But there is a strong myth on the right and among many americans that these great ideals are solely or best expressed in the US. that has not been true for many years. having lived in japan,Denmark, and even Mexico, each of those countries has aspects that are better than what some americans believe are the sole province of american Exceptionalism. Because of the politicization of patriotism, most people ignore one side or the other and therefore have a distorted view that does not allow for contradiction. The left sees video of american soldiers murdering innocent people who are trying to help other innocent people they just murdered and laughing about it as if it is the most natural thing in the world. the right sees spoiled propagandized leftists making extreme unfounded attacks on the entire american way of life, from pollution, financial ethics, and ignoring the ways that liberal ideology has at best not solved the worst social problems and they can only think og them as being the enemy form their “anti americanism. Until we get away from polarization, these faults form each side will keep any shared principles from doing any good.

    • Alex

      But that is human nature – please show me one country out there that can meet your stringent requirements so as to avoid your distaste. The French have trouble acknowledging the extent of their complicity with the nazis. The Chinese don’t want to look back at the millions killed in the various revolutions. The Japanese won’t acknowledge the atrocities they committed against the Chinese.

      Do liberals ever want to acknowledge the damage many of their policies create? No. Neither will Republicans on the flip side.

      And as Andy put it, given all that America has done right, it is difficult to accept the premise that the bad so outweighs the good that it leaves you with a distaste for your country.

    • Just Don

      > but it’s not the government that’s put it there – it’s others

      And, I would suggest, this is one of the things that *makes* America great (not perfect) rather than bad. It’s that it doesn’t rely on the government to “reveal” the bad – that in fact to do so leads to tyranny.

    • goodspkr

      One of the things I’ve noticed is that a lot of people are more critical of what they are familiar with rather than what they aren’t. Hence, Ben’s comments that he wants more transparency when the problem is he’s got plenty of transparency about America, but not about other countries.

      There also seems to be a tragic lack of knowledge of history. Lefties down play the founding fathers because they fail to live up to the morals of the 21st Century in America when it was their morals and bravery that gave rise to our current morality.

      Finally, many on the left are far too black and white in their reading of what is “bad.” Waterboarding is a key example. We used it three times on high value terrorists to great results, but to the left this indicates a collosal failure of America. Others of us aren’t so judemental.

      I’m proud to be an American. The good we bring to the world far out weighs our shortcomings. If you can’t feel pride in America, I suggest you go back and see what we’ve actually done for the world.

    • Gringo

      It would be easier for me to take take my country seriously if there was more transparency (and apologies) for mistakes that have been made.

      Here is a contrary example, to where the US has apologized where none was needed. The party line of the left is that the US deposed Allende and put Pinochet in his place.
      Those who consider the democratically elected Allende a victim of the US and CIA have examined the historical record in a very superficial manner. Three weeks before the coup, the also democratically elected House of Deputies passed by 81-47 a resolution titled the “Declaration of the Breakdown of Chile’s Democracy.” An excerpt follows.

      “5. That it is a fact that the current government of the Republic, from the beginning, has sought to conquer absolute power with the obvious purpose of subjecting all citizens to the strictest political and economic control by the state and, in this manner, fulfilling the goal of establishing a totalitarian system: the absolute opposite of the representative democracy established by the Constitution;
      6. That to achieve this end, the administration has committed not isolated violations of the Constitution and the laws of the land, rather it has made such violations a permanent system of conduct, to such an extreme that it systematically ignores and breaches the proper role of the other branches of government…”

      In general and in specific, the resolution could be interpreted as an invitation to a coup. Allende himself called it such. The democratically elected members of the House of Deputies would not have passed such a strongly-worded resolution by a commanding 63- 37% majority if their constituents, the Chilean people, were not also disgusted with the Allende government’s repeated violations of law and democratic procedure

      As I see it, when Colin Powell apologized to some Chileans regarding the Allende era, it was an unnecessary apology. When the Chilean Chamber of Deputies passed that resolution, that shows the coup was made in Chile, not in Washington DC.

    • Dave

      I think what really angers and motivates so many on the left and possibly this poster is not that we fail to recognize the bad. Of course we recognize it. It is our refusal to prostrate ourselves in the glow of their moral superiority and beg forgiveness for things done by others mostly before we were born. We are denying them a source of power over us that they feel entitled to. It’s sadly pathological.

    • Joe Blow

      I’d feel better about loving my wife if only I could be more honest with my family, friends, work colleagues and neighbors about how fat her butt is and how her breath stinks after she drinks Chardonnay, and how she called me names in that fight the other week… Hiding the bad by not telling people I’ve just met about these defining characteristics of my wife is fundamentally dishonest and really calls doubt on the whole notion of love.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        Heh.
        -Tim

    • Mike S

      Ben – why does your distaste of your country follow your disappointment in its government’s refusal to come clean and put the bad out there? You acknowledge that the bad is out there, but the government didn’t do it.
      Ben, you’re splitting hairs. Many countries, today and in days past, had governments that didn’t allow anyone to expose the bad. We live in a country where many people make a career out of doing just that, and our government does nothing to stop it! Your desire that the government come clean is, frankly, silly – though I do think our government has come clean on most things anyway, but for the sake of argument I’ll concede your point.
      So I don’t agree with the admin here – not well put. I would point out that it is typically liberal, though, to expect the government to act, and to ignore what really makes America great – its citizens!

    • apodoca

      Where has the bad been hidden? America’s defects are trumpeted around the world and apologized for on the world stage by no less that Barack Obama, POTUS, himself.

      Are you saying that America is like China, which glosses over the atrocities of Mao Tse Deng? Or like Russia? Which atrocity have we stifled the news of? Slavery? The Trail of Tears? Jim Crow? Internment of the Japanese during WWII? Syphilis trials at Tuskeegee? Which?

      What is the great bad that America has done? Slavery was not just an American problem; it was a global one. America’s founders wanted to end it, wanted a Constitution and country without it. Lincoln took the country to war to end slavery. Yet, there are still slaves in Islamic countries today. Was slavery bad in America only but good elsewhere?

    • Wilson

      Twaddle and poo, Sir. Yes, I’m questioning your patriotism.

    • http://denmotherblog.wordpress.com/ The Den Mother

      “Much of my distaste of America is not from an inability to the good that America has done, but from the hiding of the bad. It would be easier for me to take take my country seriously if there was more transparency (and apologies) for mistakes that have been made. That’s what I have a problem with: we elevate the good, and (more often than I’m comfortable with) hide the bad. And when the country does come clean about something, it often seems calculated, partial, and not solely for the purpose of doing the ‘right thing.’”

      I think you have it exactly backward. American solves its own problems and corrects its own fault, even though it might take generations to do so. Yes, we had slavery. We also abolished slavery, first fighting a bloody war in which hundreds of thousands died, then by amending our Constitution, and finally by confronting southern local and state governments that found ways to continue it (a must read: Douglas Blackmon’s “Slavery by Another Name”). Yes, we denied the vote to women and black people and the poor. We also amended our Constitution to right those wrongs. No one came in and fixed those problems for us; we fixed them ourselves, through our democratically elected legislatures. I could go on with examples, none of which were ignored in my history studies throughout my 12 years of Catholic school in the 1970s and 1980s (when my public school friends were learning about the same things in their schools). I learned in school and at home about the U.S. government’s breaking of treaties with native American tribes, about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, about racial segregation even into my lifetime. I also learned from my immigrant ancestors about how poorly they were treated when they came here, but they also told me how much things improved. How much more “transparent” do you want America to be? How many apologies are enough for you? What good is perpetual self-flagellation?

    • Rob Crawford

      “It would be easier for me to take take my country seriously if there was more transparency (and apologies) for mistakes that have been made.”

      Have you been sleeping? Because that has happened.

    • Neal

      The major difference between America’s public life of 50 or 60 years ago and today is this: It was believed in the past that we all need good examples to live up to and that highlighting and cultivating the best in people was the best way to make the culture better, advance the society, and improve everyones’ lives. This applied to the nation’s life as much as it did to individual citizens’ lives. Now, that approach is believed to be nothing but the naive, contemptible covering up of lies about peoples’ corrupt, perverse, venal souls and it is considered necessary to make Americans ashamed of their country at all times and in every way possible in order to bring this nation down to the debased, defeated, “unexceptional” condition that it supposedly deserves.

      “Elevating the good” is now a thought crime that interferes with wallowing in the neverending national self criticism session that’s straight out of a Vietnamese re-education camp. “Yes World, we in the US have used more than our share of resources and ‘stolen’ from the collective.”

      Now, everyone is expected to bow to the same mantra-like, Orwellian tirade about racist, sexist, homophobic, hegemonic, imperialistic, e-e-evil Amerikkka as it is repeated ad infinitum. It is obvious that the left doesn’t think it is possible for America to be redeemed for its many alleged sins. The left sees America as a dog that has to be beaten to death to show that it is worthy of life.

      And since when have governments anywhere been tasked with routinely and conspicuously criticizing themselves? Is there any government on Earth that endlessly berates itself and its nation’s history?

  • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

    Timothy-
    Yes, most Conservatives are more than happy to criticize government. However, if a Liberal makes a criticism then that’s different. It’s ok to say that government is too big, it’s not ok to say that government should stay out of certain wars.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Eh….many conservatives are arguing that we should not have gotten involved in the Libyan war. They’ve threatened to withhold funding, and they’ve been accusing of being unpatriotic. How is this different?
      -Tim

    • Dave F

      Like maybe Lybia?

    • DKEN

      George Washington was the primary conservative and he said that we should not become entangled in foreign affairs. We should mind our own knitting. We have been more and more inclined to get it on with others in the world, sometimes for the right reason (to rescue people being anihilated, to combat communism, Muslim expansionism through Jihad, etc.; basically to protect ourselves) and for the wrong reasons (to rescue rich Arabs from other rich Arabs). Even so, the Potus we elect is Commander in Chief of the armed forces for good or ill, so we should watch how we vote.

    • Alex

      Um, many conservatives criticize the US for getting into wars as well. In fact, historically, it was conservatives who would be criticized for their insularity and not wanting to get involved in world affairs: ie: other people’s wars.

      I have no problem with someone saying we should stay out of this war or that war. I do have a problem when that person will scream to high heaven about how horrible a particular war is when it is run by a Republican president but then ignore multiple new wars when conducted by a Democratic president.

    • goodspkr

      Liberals crying that there is a double standard for them is like Casey Anthony complaining she has to spend another week in jail.

  • Nathan

    There are two arenas where this is a hard question for me.
    First, the rhetoric on the Right does allow for people to question the “American identity and patriotism” of people who don’t subscribe to the current brand of conservatism en vogue.
    That’s just simply the truth. Witness the rhetoric during the end of the W. presidency and the 08 election cycle and the birth of the Tea Party stuff.

    That rhetoric poisons the environment and doesn’t let us have the conversation you actually are asking for.

    Second, the critique of the Anabaptist POV about the role of the Church and the State bring you to the same place, albeit for very different reasons. Vituperation and scorn gets heaped on you for your properly theological convictions as nothing more than “godless, liberal, anti-americanism”.

    I think the conversation you want is a needed one. It’s going to require folks on the conservative end of things to clearly eschew the assumption and the rhetoric that liberalism necessarily demands anti-americanism. Otherwise, the conversation partners you want won’t be willing to show up.

    • http://www.theproblemwithkevin.com kevin s.

      Similarly, though, accusations that conservatives are questioning everyone’s patriotism are overblown by the left. If one side is cherry picking the other side’s least reasonable rhetoric (and conservatives could do the same to liberals) conversation is equally impossible.

    • Ryan

      >That’s just simply the truth. Witness the rhetoric >during the end of the W. presidency and the 08 >election cycle and the birth of the Tea Party stuff.

      I’ll see your “end of the W. presidency and the 08 election cycle and the birth of the Tea Party stuff” and raise you eight whole years beginning with incoherent screaming about Bush 43 having stolen the election.

      The patriotism and even the basic human decency of people who were begging that our former president die, screaming that (among other things) our Soldiers murder millions of people around the world for no reason at all, and renouncing their citizenship because things in the country weren’t going the way they wanted them to go, not only should but must be questioned.

      You can’t be a fair-weather friend and call yourself patriotic in the same sentence. As they say down here, that dog don’t hunt.

      • DKEN

        Touche!! Good come back post. Parry and thrust.

      • http://miriamsideas.blogspot.com miriam

        Renouncing their citizenship! As if! They talk a good game, but when push comes to shove they’re still here, mostly on the government tit.

        Think Bill Ayers.

      • tony

        Except that the president may well have stolen the election. Sandra O’Connor says her vote was a big mistake and that might have turned the election the other way. He did not win the popular vote at all, and almost certainly more floridians voted for Gore than Bush.
        We have videos and quite uncontested evidence that some of our soldiers murder people for no reason at all. And those attacking Bush had more reason than anyone ever has, since he completely undermined some of the most basic principles that America was founded on, and Obama has, as predicted continued many of those. I consider myself patriotic and do not question the great things that the US has brought to it’s citizens and the world. But I have no illusions as to its continued destructive tendencies as well.

        • Ed Wallis

          Hey “tony”! In most of your later posts here, you’re trying to come off as the – ahem! – neutral, moderate, relativistic kida guy.

          HERE, you’re overtly parroting Leftist talkng points. What’s up, dude?! It sounds like you really think, even IF your points about the election were valid, that it would have justified the over-the-top, anti-American (remember the Frankfurt School’s phrase swallowed whole by the Left: “Dissent is patriotic”?) riots of the Left during GWB’s Administration.

          Please cease the weak-tea attempts at relativism before you embarass yourself further.

    • Alex

      Truth? Maybe thru your selective vision. Funny how the truth is malleable to whatever one’s political convictions are. Let’s talk about the rhetoric throughout the Bush presidency from the left if you want to talk about heated partisan rhetoric that makes conversation difficult. Then go back to the rhetoric against the Clinton white house by the right. And then go back to the vicious rhetoric against Reagan employed by the left. Then go back further to the rhetoric used against Carter or Nixon or…

      When you are ready to realize the rhetoric emanates from both ends of the political spectrum, then you are ready to have the adult conversation you so want.

    • bbridges

      Can we finally discard the tired old accusations against the Tea Party? I’m not a member but it’s a little ridiculous to read such comments without any kind of evidence. And please provide some kind of example of something that really happened and that was preferably documented.

      Meanwhile, I have seen footage of attacks on tea party gatherings. I can’t remember the last time a group has been so viciously attacked with such bogus accusations.

    • Ed Wallis

      “…the rhetoric that liberalism necessarily demands anti-americanism”?!

      REALLY?!

      Dear me. You’ve just confirmed the bias (AKA willful DENIAL) of the Left with THAT one! I guess you haven’t heard much of what the Left has had to say over the past 20-50 years. Pity.

  • Kubrick’s Rube

    Patriotism can be hard to characterize, but I sum my own patriotism up with a quote from President Clinton’s inaugural address:

    “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

    The genius of our founding documents is the mix of principle and practicality, the inalienable and the contingent. The Declaration of Independence, The Preamble to and Articles of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights throw down the gauntlet for the rest of us, proclaiming authoritatively the new nation’s moral and ethical foundation, without allowing any individual, group or even the Constitution itself final authority on how to meet these ideals or even how to ultimately define them.

    That metaphorical “To Be Continued” of Article Five of the Constitution would likely be enough to keep my symbolic or abstract love for this country alive; but what the American people, singly and together- from George Washington’s “Letter to Touro Synagogue” to MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to every letter every citizen of whatever political persuasion writes to his/her local newspaper or elected official -have made of the challenge to establish justice and an asymptotically more-prefect Union hits me too viscerally to be called anything but patriotism.

    And yes, we must honestly place in context our national achievements and faults. Progress has often been slow- painfully, even lethally so- and there are areas where I believe other countries have done a better job than we have. But for every dream deferred, I can’t help but envision a nightmare averted by the cautious, deliberate system bequeathed to us by the Founding Fathers and those that influenced them. None of that forgives the gross injustices of past or present; none of that minimizes the sacrifice and effort of those who fought and fight to correct those injustices. That call to unending protest and evolution and participation embedded in every fiber of our national origin story yet built upon the bedrock of self-evident and enduring truths was a truly, remarkably great idea.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Very nice comment, KR. Thanks. And I think that quotation is a great way to define patriotism. Isn’t that a paraphrase of something said long before? I’m not sure it originates with ol’ Bill, but it might.
      -Tim

      • Kubrick’s Rube

        Thanks Tim.

        The Clinton quote is likely a reformulation of this Eisenhower quote:

        “There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizens cannot cure.”

        • Rampaige

          Wow. I’m actually tearing up. Couldn’t have said it better.

          It is exactly the hope, the ideals, the ethics, and the economic freedoms that make us truly unique in the world.

          I make no qualms about our failures, but I also believe in Redemption. It is a long, hard road…but one Americans refuse to shirk as a nation.

          Our best examples reside within our Military – men & women who forsake profit and many times lives for freedom. They instintively understand Jefferson’s comment that freedom must be periodically fed the blood of its citizens. Tyrants will always conspire to make us slaves – to them, their governments, their points of view. It is up to us to remain vigilant and be willing to die to protect our freedoms.

          But our Military takes it several steps beyond – they are willing to lose life and limb to free citizens of other countries! Only those who truly understand just how special we are would want others to enjoy the same elsewhere.

          As one who’s dealt with both extremes in my life, I infinitely prefer the company of the Right. They are more capable of discussing the finer points of an issue, and they resort to ad hominem attacks on your character for dissenting. I had to stop discussing any issue with the Left, because I grew weary of the attitude that I was worse than Satan for disagreeing. Most intolerable lot.

          • Rampaige

            Correction: the Right does NOT resort to ad hominem attacks…

          • tony

            totally untrue in my experience. I frequent many right wing websites and am constantly subject to ad hominem attacks. they are all over the place on sites Like Human events, Weekly Standard, etc. In my experience those on the left are much more willing to discuss issues and think about things from a variety of viewpoints. I find about 10-20% of left/liberals to be rigid in their thinking through ideology, and closer to 50% or more for those on the right. I imagine your experience derives form the fact that your ideas are similar tot hose you talk with, whereas hardly anyone on any spectrum agrees with me once they really understand what I am saying ;-)

          • tony

            Just to clarify I am absolutely careful never to attack individuals. I use sarcasm sometimes but I always confine myself to the ideas, not the person.

      • Kristo Miettinen

        I always thought Clinton was alluding to the quip of Joe Louis as he enlisted, to the effect that there was nothing wrong with America that Hitler was going to fix…

  • http://redsoprano.blogspot.com RJ

    I am going home tomorrow after being in Europe for three months. I spent most of my time in Austria, but also have seen Ireland and England. The Europeans have a way of accepting themselves for who they are and who they were. The areas that have the “Third Reich” in their history still carry some national shame about this, but according to an Austrian I met, all Austrian and German school children are required to go to a concentration camp during their schooling. Their attitude is that, “This won’t happen again. Not Here.” That is respectable. Most of the nations on this planet have a bloody history. It is a wise person who can study history(the good, the bad, and the ugly)and place the events in some perspective. The intellectuals you speak of seem to be personally absorbing all the history they have studied, and like a person with poor self esteem, they are unable to accept anything good about themselves (their country). It seems that some history “therapy” is in order. By that, I mean the bad needs to be tempered with the good. While we do not have to love the bad aspects, we should not hate ourselves as a nation because our history is not without major flaws. There aren’t countries or humans without problems.

    • Agoraphobic Plumber

      Excellent, well-thought-out comment. My perspective is similar to yours, though it took me a long time to come to it. I was in love with my country for my whole childhood, partly by way of parental instruction and partly by the process of becoming an Eagle Scout. Then I went to college, where I was taught that the US is something to be ashamed of, and that stuck for awhile. Then I drifted out of political awareness somewhat for awhile, until 9/11 hit and I swung back to full patriotism mode. Since then, I’ve settled back into what feels like a more mature, longer-lasting patriotism that is truly genuine and seasoned.

      Yes, we slaughtered most of the Native Americans. Yes, we allowed slavery for a long time. Yes, there is to this day some benighted racists among us (though not nearly as many as some would have us believe). Yes, we involve ourselves in fights that aren’t really ours. We’re a warlike people. We dropped the bomb on Japan. We have a larger-than-life view of our role in the world. We have a certain arrogance, we don’t pay attention to world affairs like we should and a lot of us are overweight. All true.

      But the good stuff so far outweighs the bad that the bad stuff nearly disappears by comparison. Consider: you’re reading this on a device that was invented in America, over a network that was invented by the American department of defense. You’ve probably got an American soda sitting in front of you. If you were truly bad off and needed to flee your country, you’d have a better chance of finding protection and solace here that anywhere else on the planet, regardless of your job skills and whatnot. If your leaders were killing you, America would be the only ones on the planet (usually with Aussie and Brit backing) that would take direct action to help while the UN dithered and the Euros threw spitballs from the sidelines.

      I love this country deeply and fully, and I embrace all the bad things we’ve ever done as well. They’re part of what has made us who we are and they serve as object lessons to help guide us to do better in the future. Just because we haven’t always lived up to our best ideals doesn’t mean that those ideals aren’t worth a lot. We just have to keep trying to get better.

    • Casper

      That’s a great way to approach it, and I would love to see something like that happen here (although it would likely be geographically impossible to bring all children to plantation to make the point on slavery). The challenge that seems to be present in this country is that there are many who can’t do that without also adding, “and you personally should feel guilty that this happened and acknowledge you are a bad person.”

    • apodoca

      Blacks have yet to say and mean “This won’t happen again. Not Here.” How do I know? The welfare plantation. The rejection of education. The government dependence. The self-destructive behaviors.

  • Abbie Normal

    Part of the Liberals’ problem is that they hold America to an abstract and impossibly high standard. If the US is so bad, just who meets their criteria, and why? Every country has skeletons in its closet; why is the US the only nation that cannot ever be absolved of its past misdeeds, real or imagined?

    The US may not be perfect, but it’s far, far better than anywhere else.

    • At_Liberty

      Thank you ! My thoughts exactly …

      We have been almost pathological about magnifying our faults out of all proportion. And many Europeans take a secret sweet joy from this and love to help it along…
      Sure the Europeans have a world-weary acceptance of their own history, but it’s also a frequent feint before they start dissing America and Americans.

    • Rampaige

      I’d offer the Left immigrate to that country deemed the best in their eyes…why postpone their joy?

    • Nate Whilk

      “Part of the Liberals’ problem is that they hold America to an abstract and impossibly high standard.”

      They know that. That’s why they do it. Saul Alinsky’s rule 4: “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

    • Victor Erimita

      To me it seems that self-styled “progressives” often seem to be saying, “I love America. I just can’t stand Americans and everything they do, say, think or stand for.” It’s hard to say what “America” they love.

      Responsible “conservatism” does not require one to blindly support whatever the government of “my country” is doing at this very moment. But it seems to me it does require one to honor the ideals of this country and perhaps focus on what it has done, and is doing, right at least as much as what it does wrong, real or imagined. To simply insist that America is at the root of most of the world’s problems is a kind of adolescent reductionism that always sees the glass as half empty, no matter what strides are made in civil rights, health care, or relief from poverty. It is not a constructive kind of criticism, or a criticism made in good faith, when faults are exaggerated or even invented and treasures of country and culture ignored or even decried.

      The far Left thinks the Constitution and the very principles the country was founded on are corrupt or downright evil. They routinely mock the very flyover country peasantry they claim to champion. They despise the “middle class,” the suburbs and most of what they perceive as the dulling, mindless tedium of the lives most Americans live. So what does it mean for them to say they love America or are patriotic?

    • tony

      Abbie,

      you are partly right about holding the US to an impossibly high standard (one most leftists don’t approach in their own lives as well). But saying it is far far better than anyplace else is exactly the kind of “nationals” that the author says is NOT patriotic. I have lived in numerous other countries, , and each has it’s faults and good points. the fact that the US is really rich does not make it a better country. The human values that are cherished int he US are practiced rather badly in many ways, where in other coutnries they are often followed MUCh MUCH better. the treating your neighbor thing works better in a number of other countries than the US.

      • Ed Wallis

        If you truly believe life is better in those other countries, tony, then MOVE. Americans – at least – have that option. Your relativism discredits your attempt at “tolerance.”

  • Nigel Roberts

    First time to the site and immediate conclusion is how thin skilled liberals are… “Why do they always criticize us when we aren’t allowed to criticize the”? etc… Dudes, read the MSM. You guys have won the culture wars and *still* you can’t handle your own self-loathing??? Sheesh!

  • Nigel Roberts

    thin skinned (obviously).

    Doing this from a handheld waiting to board a flight

    • http://unitedconservatives.blogspot.com/ Cargosquid

      No…you were right the first time. Thin-skilled, indeed….

  • http://www.treasuredpeople.com yehoshua

    The decline of America is directly linked to its pressuring Israel. All that distinguishes America, in the end, is its moral posture. For years, America stood alone in its support of Israel but now that support is waning. America’s pressuring of Israel is both symptomatic of and contributory to America’s moral decline. Ultimately, America needs Israel more than Israel needs America. Israel is the canary in the coal mine, a test of America’s moral fiber.

    • tony

      Yshoshua,

      if only Israel was not engaged in the rather brutal oppression of a couple of million people i would heartily agree with you. As the article states it is not unpatriotic to criticize ones country. America has sided with Israel on a number of issues that totally corrupted it’s moral posture. I am all for a safe and secure israel, but cannot support religious fanatics or even those with legitimate grievances when they overeact by punishing an entire group of people.

      • Ed Wallis

        Now, THAT’S a fine example of talking out of both sides of your mouth, tony!

        BRAVO!

        If you honestly “cannot support religious fanatics or even those with legitimate grievances when they overeact by punishing an entire group of people,” you’d best turn your eye to those calling for elimination of the Jews.

        FRAUD!

  • Shain

    An instructive essay. Thank you.

    My take is that America represents both an abstract ideal — essentially, the sovereignty of the individual (something no other nation has explicitly attempted to embody either before or since) — and a concrete geographical, cultural, realistic, and human (i.e. flawed) nation.

    I consider those who love and strive for the ideal to be the true American patriots. By that definition, therefore, those on the right tend to be more patriotic (to the extent that they’re individualists/anti-statists) as opposed to those on the left (to the extent that they’re collectivists/statists).

    Note that few Republican office holders are really on the right, nearly always demonstrating that they’re (1) collectivist/statist-light and (2) thus unpatriotic to that extent.

    • DKEN

      Would’nt it be great if “conservative” elected officials really were conservative? They won’t until enough of We The People insist. The democrats of the Jeffersonian era. Federalists.

  • Ed Wallis

    The “Liberal Hand Wringing” being done in the comments [be it done by those on the Left or Right] is breathtaking. Though slightly exaggerated, it is as if (to apply an example from above) The United States had enacted its own Holocaust and could only redeem itself by eternally hanging its dirty laundry out to dry…and THIS after 80 years of Leftist America-Is-Eeevil! “educational” indoctrination. The ONLY thng needed in this country is an utter elimination of such self-hating viruses.

    • tony

      Ed,

      this is exactly the type of one sided thoughtless unsupported haranguing that convinces liberals that the right is uninterested in reality. calling teaching real history instead of nationalist propaganda “indoctrination” undermines your whole point. the problem is ignoring the positives, not pointing out the negatives.

      • Ed Wallis

        Oh, *puhlease*, “real” history…!
        And who decides that?!
        GLBT history is “real”…wanna teach that to 7 year olds? Your BASELESS accusation of my comment being “thoughtless” is more of the Leftist technique of “you didn’t say it perfectly according to MY standards, so forget about you!” whining. I’ve got news for you, tony: Americans are fed up with your kind of tip-toeing around the matter that after 70-80 years of Leftist schooling, it is time to END (*not* moderate) the HATE AMERICA propaganda.

  • Barliman

    Patriotism for me is made up of three aspects; the American people, the physical country itself and the form of government defined by our Constitution. My loyalty is to the combination of the three and was created by my being blessed by traveling throughout my life.

    My family relocated a multiple times before my 18th birthday. I learned our various cultures by living in New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado, Arkansas, New York, North Carolina and Ohio. I came to appreciate the differences made each location unique – some of them being based on natural aspects of that part of the country. The similarities between people wherever we went were far greater. Their common desire to better themselves and their family and the drive they displayed to work towards that end would have the greatest impact on me by the time I graduated college.

    From the early 1960′s through to the early 1980′s, I saw our Constitution’s value as segregation was swept away, sexism was brought to the fore, a President was forced from office and tolerance for divergent views increased.

    From the late 1990′s through to 2009, I was fortunate to travel the globe for business and build an international team. The same lessons from my formative years were expanded in scale. The similarities of the individual people across the various countries was essentially the same – their common desire to better themselves and their family and the drive they displayed to work towards that end. What did vary in significant degree was the intensity of their drive. The variation in drive is most affected, in my opinion, by the form of government they live under. The greater the upward mobility allowed in country combined with the ability of people to effect change, the greater the drive.

    Looking back over the last 50 years of this country, I am staggered by the societal change that has occured because of a staggering number of challenges. If you look back over that same time period and can not see the positives vastly outweigh the negatives … I will not question your patriotism but I will question your objectivity, your knowledge and experience with the rest of the world, and your intellectual honesty – regardless of whether you call yourself liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat.

    • tony

      barliman

      having been to all 50 states, and lived for at least a year in 7, as well as having visited over 50 countries, the single difference that I see that is largest is the wealth of the west. Living in Denmark, which has its own problems, there are many aspects of danish cutlure that are far beyond the myths about America. The degree of inventiveness, entrepreneurism, and desire for improvement is tremendous there, and it is a “socialist” country. the friendliness and openness in numerous other countries is far more christian than in the US in general, even in Muslim countries, the japanese are both more productive and more responsible. American exceptionalism is largely a myth, but valuable in some ways. And it does not take away the great things about America that other countries are better than us in ways that we pride ourselves the amount of what the US has done bit materially and through ideas is staggering. Anyone form this country can take pride in that, and anyone from another country can marvel at that.

      • Ed Wallis

        My, I *do* certainly wonder how much a troll gets paid to post tripe on websites these days.

        So, the “socialist” country has great advantages over America. Okaaaaay. Just WHERE DO YOU LIVE, Sen~or Hypocrite?

        In muslim countries, people are more responsible”. With that, you say that stoning women, killing homosexuals and terrorizing the world at large is YOUR idea of responsibility.

        Spare me your relativistic drivel in rationalizing your “Private Idaho” (AKA Hell).

  • Mr. Derp

    To me patriotism is gratitude. In so many other countries in the world they do not have any of the freedoms we have. My mother was an immigrant and she tells me stories from the old country and it ain’t pretty. I mean here we are discussing our disagreements on the internet while in many other countries you could be imprisoned for such speech – or there is no internet at all or the internet is censored.
    Our Constitution is an amazing document. The Founders even gave us a means to fix it via amendments.
    Once in a while we should take a step back and appreciate what we have and lose the guilt and self-loathing. Gratitude. :)

    • tony

      Of course there are dozens of countries besides the US where this is true also.

      • Mr. Derp

        Dozens? Such as?
        And what were their accomplishments? Do people see these countries as the land of opportunity? What great rock and roll songs came from these dozens of countries? Just asking.

      • Ed Wallis

        Your slavish adherence to RELATIVISM is duly noted.

  • dunce

    Liberals find our country guilty of some “original sins” and in their eyes the country can not be redeemed by any subsequent actions but the faults must be proclaimed and condemned forever. This has the benefit of giving them the opportunity of assigning those flaws to their current political opponents.

    • BLBeamer

      This is not surprising. I have never yet met a Progressive who accepts the theological concept of original sin. To do so implies the necessity of a Redeemer who is not a mere human. This insults their conceit that Man can redeem himself (almost always through “correct” political views and actions).

      However, they fully accept the notion of a country having original sins because those sins can be redeemed. I don’t think it is just coincidence that this Redemption can only be achieved through them and their “correct” political views and actions.

      It all comes down to their highly inflated views of themselves and the self-righteousness of the views with which they have been indoctrinated.

    • tony

      that is a caricature of liberals that occasionally is true but just fuels polarization. Most liberals i know are open minded fair hard working people with faults just like most other people

      • Ed Wallis

        “It’s a stereotype! A generalization!” Uh huh, tony, sure, *whatever*. That you offer up that the Leftists *you* know are “open minded” only reveals what an insular, unrepresentative world you inhabit.

      • BLBeamer

        First of all, I said “Progressives” on purpose, as a distinctive group from liberals.

        Secondly, your comment (while I agree with most of what you said) did not address my remarks.

        I was not addressing the work habits of anyone. I was addressing the worldview of Progressives, most of whom I maintain are not fair-minded. They are mostly monomaniacs who can not acknowledge that the Marxism-infected views they spout are not the only possible explanation of the way the world works. And what’s worse, they would rather die than admit they may be wrong about something.

        This goes a long way, I believe, in explaining why they so quickly resort to invective when people refuse to bow to their grand schemes.

      • BLBeamer

        Oops, my comments below were supposed to be addressed to tony. My apologies for any confusion.

  • Blackdog

    I don’t much care to attempt a dialogue with someone who begins with the assumption that this country is evil – a lie, a sham, and a fraud. There is a Gold Standard to which people may be compared, but to what does one compare nations? Before whom shall we humble ourselves? Who has the moral authority to receive our confession? Russia? China? Germany? The liberal presumes to indict America while smiling upon repressive regimes and turning a blind eye to enormities that would choke the most bombastic American patriot. The liberal demands of the conservative that he be humble, penitant, self-doubting – while the liberal never questions his own overweening self-righteousness. It is difficult to hold a worthwhile discussion with someone who demands unconditional surrender.

    • PG

      I have often thought that many liberals lacked a real education. Even in academia the actual education was less than the credentialling. If the only thing you read is slanted material that starts with a conclusion and tries to find ‘facts’ to support it, you are not really educated.

      As a student of history I am still looking for a country that is less revolting than the U.S. in terms of past deeds. Someone mentioned Switzerland…demonstrating an appalling ignorance of the Italian Renaissance. If you do not know what I am talking about ask yourself why?

      I challenge anyone to present their case. What country besides the U.S. would you pick? I bet you pick it out of ignorance.

    • tony

      another caricature that has little relations to reality. Certainly there are a few like that, but the vast majority are not and this type of stereotyping is exactly what the author was trying to avoid

      • Ed Wallis

        I believe your “two minutes of hate” is up, tony.

  • Matt

    Timothy-

    Liberals recoil from patriotism and shared or organized religion because these constructs have the capability if unifying far-flung unrelated peoples together with a sense of shared values that eclipse societal fault lines that the Left seeks to exploit such as race, class and gender.

    It is harder to foment the desired class warfare as an election strategy if people do not fundamentally define themself by class or see other classes as sharing similar values.

    If religious or patriotic values can eclipse racial tensions it becomes harder for the left to engage in divisive race-baiting to drive minority voters to the polls.

    Patriotism and religion make it harder for the left to unravel the fabric of society to their political ends.

    So they view it ad a threat.

    • Shain

      Excellent insight Matt … and beautifully said.

  • Richard Blaine

    My standard line is: “I’m not questioning your patriotism, I’m questioning your manhood.”

  • al

    Patriotism for liberal elites is the moral equivalent of bowling , a lower class activity. Since they don’t want to be judged especially by the lower classes they pretend that they are non judgmental but are sophisticated enough they can see their country’s faults.

  • J

    I think the criticisms of the left would be respected more if they were at least consistent with the charges they leveled against republican presidents being applied to democrat presidents. Never going to happen. As for patriotism? When you see the lip lifted in a sneer and you see raw, naked hatred pouring out of a person’s entire body when they talk about the USA….and they live here…..it is difficult to call that patriotism.

  • http://theloudtalker.com The Loud Talker

    I think more people should be thanking America for what we have done, not condemning America for what it has failed to do. Some liberals like to say that we are an evil, war-mongering machine intent on nothing but profit. However, I would like to remind these same liberals that despite the many wars we have been involved with we have never conquered countries or taken over land, other than that required to bury our dead that fought to help others. We, unlike our enemies, fight for peace, not for prizes.

    • jmp

      Indeed. I’m still waiting for us to take over the oil fields in Iraq and Kuwait, which is what I thought at ‘imperial power’ is supposed to do, which is what a lib I know called us. Been waiting for years.

  • Deadrody

    I see it quite simply. The liberals you describe make perfect the enemy of good.

  • Kazooskibum

    Liberals are extremely patriotic when it comes to defending their own causes and positions. It just depends on whose side you are on.

  • Karl Magnus

    Methinks that the author is being too kind to academia.

    One of the most fascinating courses I ever experienced was a 400 level (senior class) PolySci class on foreign policy taught by a recently retired Army Intelligence Officer. Sadly, he was a pariah in the that department. While all of the other Professors were using their graduate assistants to further their own careers (read: private businesses) in survey research (yawn) this man possessed such knowledge and conclusions / opinions that were out of sinc with the department’s “Question Authority” meme that he wasn’t taken seriously. He was correct, but no one cared.
    I departed academia, in part, because of the blatant Leftist bent and propaganda.
    While we should “Question Authority” now more than ever before America goes the way of Ancient Rome, those doing the questioning are no patriots. They’re leaches on the education system who are allowed unfettered access to “young skulls full of mush”.
    I suggest that everyone look into just how much the taxpayers lay out for sleazy, lazy propagandists who have taken full control of America’s universities. Most of y’all would be appalled at their outrageous salaries.

    ~(Ä)~

    2012 can’t come soon enough.

  • junior

    As a non American, I will offer two thoughts: the US is and will continue to be the country of choice for those seeking to improve their lives. That fact alone should engender some pride (patriotism even) in US citizens. You benefit from the best and the brightest, those risking everything to move up. Secondly, the US consitution should be an object of pride – it remains the envy of those who wish they could enjoy democracy while at the same time frustrating those who would curtail it.

  • Tim

    My loyalty is to the “form” of our government, that is, the legal principles: majority rule, minority rights, written law, a democratic republic, federalism, etc. Patriotism attached to that that loyalty allows me to be comfortable with our nation’s past sins as well as its great achievements in advancing human welfare.

  • Cristina

    I loved this piece. Well put!

  • Jerry Baustian

    Dr Dalrymple, almost certainly you are familiar with Orwell’s 1945 essay “Notes on Nationalism”, which fits perfectly with your discussion.
    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwelnat.htm

    According to Orwells’s use of the term “nationalism”, it applies to those academics and others who call themselves “citizens of the world” or members of a global community. For Orwell, it was England’s intelligentsia who gave their allegiances to European fascism or Soviet communism or Roman Catholicism, but who hated practically everything about their own country. It was the common patriotic men and women who stepped forward to defend Britain when it was attacked… people for whom hatred of their own country was unthinkable.

    Patriotism and nationalism are two different and distinctive things. Those who hate their own country and all it stands for, who save their loyalty for the global community or for Mother Gaia or for some religious entity that identifies America as its enemy — they are not patriots. It is fair game to call them what they are, based on their own words.

    I wish Orwell had found a better word than “nationalism”, but he takes special care to make sure we know what he means. And his words are at least as important today as they were 66 years ago.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks for this reminder, Jerry.
      -Tim

  • Chris

    Come at it from another angle:

    Who are you willing to excuse/forgive? If you will forgive a stranger before you will forgive your brother, you have a problem.

    Likewise, if you will forgive a far-away nation for their mistakes and misjudgments but will not even consider doing so for the country that provides you with peace and safety… you have a problem.

    It doesn’t matter if you think there should be global solutions. You take with you the baggage that you came with, including a family reputation and a national identity. Other people will meet you and they will wonder why you so easily turn against your own.

    If you cannot figure out how to forgive your family, enjoy the city you live in, appreciate your state, your heritage, the country that protects you, then you will rightly be seen as untrustworthy. Who would bother to invest their time getting close to you when you have no appreciation for it?

  • thomass

    I think, this century, that most of the world’s problems came from mostly non nationality based ideologies. It wasn’t dumb old mean US [classical]liberalism. It was things like socialism. One of the very things that many of these critics believe in. Yes; they can get away with it due to bad history and an amazing use of projection.

  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: Timothy Dalrymple, et al.
    RE: Heh

    So rather than railing against the anti-patriotism of the ultra-liberal elites, it’s imperative that we teach a better history. — Timothy Dalrymple

    Good luck with that.

    The vaunted American public education system can’t even teach the students English and Math, let alone advanced concepts like Civics or History.

    I sit on a citizens oversight commission. Last Winter at one of the monthly meetings, the reps from two institutions of higher education reported that 38% of the new enrollees at their facilities required remedial English and Math before they could engage in the courses at their level.

    Civics and History are WAY behind, based on what my wife and I have witnessed as a judges of high school forensics for the last five years. And those are with the ‘sharper tools’ in high school.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [School choice is the only answer....]

  • JefF

    If you don’t like America principles you are simply not a patriot. You may be an American but patriotic you are not. No, being patriotic doesn’t mean you approve of everything that Americans are doing right now … it means you like what America stands for in its principles.
    This idea that America was far from perfect in its past or even its present actions doesn’t change the fact that its is ONLY because of those American principles that we have corrected our sins of the past and will correct our current or future sins.
    If you don’t like the principles of America today you simply can’t be called a patriot.

  • Mike

    Right on Chris. My wife and I love each other but we are not blind to each other’s faults, nor we do just ignore them. If I really could not endure her faults, then I would leave her, as she would me. The same holds for my country. I consider this approach to be natural, normal and healthy. Are there those who do not?

  • CJS

    Non patriotic feelings because of our history is a canard. They simply do not believe in founding values and capitalism. Reality: they love Cuba, socialism and nannyism and hate those who don’t. They won’t be “proud of America for the first time” until they have a “liberal” big government to manage the stupid masses.

  • john b

    I love my children unconditionally. Sometimes they might stray from the correct paths and I take what steps I can to correct them. In the past they’ve made mistakes and we did what we could to make things right. Through it all my love for them never falters. I feel the same for America. My patriotism is my love of my country.

  • Californio

    So much of this is personal. Imagine someone you just don’t like. Now imagine you work with them, you made a mistake and there they are – smiling at you, waiting for the apology. (is that a smirk you detect at the corners of their mouth?!?) It is natural to get defensive, which leads the other person to think – “a ha! not really sorry! – despite their being WRONG.” And nothing gets resolved.

    America is a great country – and within the family we can discuss errors and mistakes. But don’t act like an adolescent and claim “That other family would be so much better to be in – THEY would understand me….” (that is immature BS – the French get on each others nerves just like we piss each other off..)

  • emlw

    Funny how all the anti-war “patriots” on the left disappeared when Obama was elected.

  • rrr

    Thank you! Olson created his typical straw man argument and he never gets called on for it. If such self-righteous preening counts for argumentation at Baylor, all hope is lost.

  • Tim

    I have one simple question: why don’t all the liberals who fancy socialism and a European way of life just go there? Let’s be honest! The answer is that they like living here more than living there! Those who complain about our health care system and extol Cuba’s or the UK’s are certainly not being held prisoner here. If you think this country has more negatives than positives, act with the courage of your convictions and move where you feel things are better. Truthfully, the liberals enjoy all the benefits of living here, e.g., being able to gripe about everything without reprisal. The US will never be Europe. Get over it!

  • Alex

    I am an emigrant to America and like to say that this very discussion and exchange of views is what is right with America and why I am here. The sign of a modern, advanced civilization is not whether or not bad things happen (they do), but whether it learns from it, advances from it, builds legal framework to avoid abuse of power, and continually grows towards freedom and the pursuit of happiness. America is not great because it reached perfection. America is great because it is making a journey in the right direction.

  • http://www.mypostingcareer.com PN

    The commitment of the Progressive is not to country but to ideology. The “transnational progressive” is a case in point, because here the ruling belief is that “country” is merely an arbitrary set of lines undeserving of respect. Or perhaps at best an artifact of a more savage time which we are somehow leaving behind as we become more progressive.

    The sentiment is most familiar to us from elections. When a sufficiently non-Progressive candidate is elected President one often hears the refrain, “That’s it, I’m moving to Canada!” The move rarely happens, of course, but what is most telling is that those who speak in this way do not expect anyone to find their readiness to leave the country (simply because a different ideology found favor with the people) anything shocking at all.

    I submit that they do not think of it as shocking because they regard the higher political commitment to be to ideology and not to country. This is unpatriotic – and in my view it is contemptible and ultimately untenable.

  • Georgiaboy61

    People frequently conflate patriotism with nationalism; the former cherishes the unique, the local, the place from which one comes; the latter demands a quasi-religious, unconditional obedience of the state and leads, unchecked, to fascism, communism and other collectivist and totalitarian movements.

    As for whether or not America deserves the love and gratitude of her citizens, the answer seems to me very obvious. The dispossessed from around the world literally risk their lives on a daily basis, to journey here for a chance at a better, freer life. For all her faults, the USA is still worth loving, still worth sacrificing for. To have been born a U.S. citizen is akin to having won the genetic lottery. The only point this writer concedes to the left is that triumphalism is unbecoming; we should strive to become/remain humble and grateful for what we have been given by chance and by our forebearers. As for those who prosper and thrive here in the U.S., all the while criticizing, belittling and demeaning our nation (think Noam Chomsky)- they are hypocrits and beneath contempt.

  • http://whenfallsthecoliseum.com/author/kwatson/ megapotamus

    The socialist cannot be a patriot. Not an American patriot. He sees not fellow citizens but cows to be milked, horses to be saddled and sheep to be led…. then shorn.

  • Bob

    The America I love is always a work in progress,quite capable of absorbing criticism, accepting that is not yet a “perfect union”, and continuously taking steps to make the country a better place to live for as many of its citizens as possible. It is also a place in which the national political debate has been severely degraded by those who would divide its people into such arbitrary categories as liberal and conservative – and then question the patriotism of the “other.”

  • johnmorrissey

    Very few or our lives would exist without the efforts of parents, grandparents, relatives ,friends and others unknown whose sacrifices and hard work left behind the residue of wealth and health we enjoy.Patriotism is gratitude to the unknowns who went before us to create our boundaries,our constitution,our laws and our customs.We go to unfamiliar places and risk our lives and fortunes in defense of our polity because of a compact with fellow Americans which declares we will do our part trusting you to do yours.I and my sons will be by your side when you need us and there will be no careful weighing of your worth to receive my help because I trust you to do the same in my need.I go to avenge Pearl Harbor because our forebears defended Boston over two hundred years ago.I accept that my taxes will help repair New Orleans because yours helped build Ellis Island.That is gratitude and that is appreciation. That is Patriotism. And to quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan.. “If you do not love America, show me its equal.”

  • JAL

    Seen in the guestbook at the American Cemetary at Epinal, FR., surrounded above and below by “mercis” and “Nous n’oublirons jamais…”

    January 2010

    “Bringing my sons to show them the sacrifice of all these heroes who freed us from Hell.”

    Entered by a person with a Germanic name. From Argentina.

    One more reason why I love America. And have to make few apologies.

  • Kevin

    I was myself exposed to quite a bit of indoctrination in my education. It always seemed that the focus on our nation’s past sins was not an issue of our covering for ourselves, but rather an attempt to remove the deification that history seemed to place on the founders. I asked several liberal friends about this, and they argued that such respect for our leaders was problematic and could lead to bias. However those making such an excuse heavily glorified their own liberal icons.

    For some liberal leaders, the laser focus on America’s past sins isn’t about the past at all, but is an effort to garner support for newer policies. If the legacy of the founders stands in the way of big government policies, then de-legitimizing them in the public consciousness would be a means to achieving those policy goals. We feel less guilty about betraying the founder’s vision for this nation if we can make them out to be villains.

    Art imitates life, and sometimes vice-versa. There’s a great Babylon 5 episode that portrays this issue called “Deconstruction of Falling Stars”.

  • http://eternityroad.info Francis W. Porretto

    – It’s no sin to be unpatriotic. –

    Sin? No. Just massively foolish and dishonest. Contemptible, in fact. For an American, that is.

    America is the crowning glory of human civilization. Have we made mistakes? Have we occasionally violated our principles? Yes. But we’ve also done mighty and wondrous things. We’ve built the richest, safest, freest society in history. We’ve achieved things no other nation can even dream of doing. We’ve saved other nations from totalitarian conquerors on several occasions.

    We are the non-imperial superpower: the nation that acts to protect and defend others — often from their own foolishness — and never asks for recompense.

    Any American who dares to slander this country, or its founding principles, has my undying contempt. He deserves to live in Burkina Faso. And if they dislike that, they can try parroting their mealy-mouthed denigrations of the United States to my face and see what they get for it. I’m in the book!

  • Kubrick’s Rube

    By the way, Tim repeatedly made clear he’s talking about the “far-Left” and “ultra-liberal elites,” so could everyone stop shortening that to “liberals” or “the left” as if the vast majority of us have anything to do with the sheltered Harvard academics described?

    • Spidey

      Yup! That’s the truth; I object to the use of the term ‘Liberal’ being used when the (to me) real meaning is ‘Anti-American far-Leftist’.

    • Ed Wallis

      Ummm…a rhetorical: then just why is it that there are so many on the Left so slavishly following the dictates of those “(il)liberal elites”? Sorry, but DENIAL is not just a river in Egypt.

  • DR King

    Great piece!

    I think true patriotism — love for country — includes learning from earlier generations and listening to fellow Americans while striving for the best. It’s right that we discuss slavery and other faults in order to learn from past mistakes. It’s also right that we celebrate and strive to build on our forefathers’ achievements. We should learn from but not live in the past. Holding people today responsible for the sins of their ancestors is living in the past. (What nation is without sin?) Recognizing and supporting correct principles of good government is living in the present. Discussing (or respectfully debating) these principles is patriotic.

  • Synova

    “It was no character flaw that inspired her anti-patriotism. Her caricature of America’s history and character was merely a product of her education.”

    Presumably we’re talking about a well educated adult person.

    Is it really not a character flaw not to be capable of thought independent of one’s education? Perhaps if she was a child, or mentally infirm, or sequestered against her will…

    If we’re not responsible for the world inside of our own heads, our thoughts and what is the essence of our person,.. then we’re talking questions of free-will and sentience.

    Or the lack.

  • tony

    I know a number of academics at harvard and other elite universities. And most of them are quite brilliant extremely thoughtful and well respected by all who actually know them. i have met some that are pig headed boars. Intellignet but rigid and unimaginative. And of those who are boars just as many are conservative as liberal.

  • Buzz

    Tony

    Um, I believe you mean pig-headed BOORS. (Nb., a boar, by definition, is pig-headed–in a literal way, at least.)

    • Ed Wallis

      Dear Buzz, If you look through “tony’s” previous posts on this thread, you will likely notice that he is attempting – as weakly amateurish as it may be – to appear “moderate,” while he is presenting the Left’s relativism and biases in grand form. It’s all quite a bore/boar/boor (ha ha ha).

    • Bill G.

      Where did he find well respected academics at harvard who are conservative?

  • Dave

    Great article! I think it’s especially relevant to me as I have struggled over the last few years to make sure I don’t confuse conservatism or the Republican party with Christianity. Nor patriotism or love of country with Christianity.

    That being said, I still feel the “right” is the only way to go in regards to public policy, abortion, spending, etc… Plus – seeing the good in this country doesn’t mean ignoring it’s sins. I don’t know any people on the right who would deny America has it’s fair share of problems past and present, but there seem to be plenty on the left that can’t acknowledge any of it’s positives. People the world over flock to America for a reason – American’s aren’t flocking out.

    Also – I am not a member of the Tea Party – but I am confused by some of the attacking rhetoric in that direction as most of it seems to be mere condescension with no real factual basis. I fail to see the problem with limited government – perhaps because I fail to see how an overbearing and overreaching government could possibly lead to more freedom for anyone. Other tea party ideas seem just fine as well, but I digress…

    More disturbing to me – are those who hold pretty solid theological positions – and I think rightly and clearly differentiate between what it means to be a Christian and being a member of a political party – fancy themselves to be “moderate” – but then begin to cling to leftist positions like global warming. (Sometimes I think people adopt these positions simply because it’s very important that people think them intelligent – which is just pride.) It seems to me that in many cases “scratch a moderate – find a liberal”. In fact, I’m not entirely sure what a real moderate would look like – as it seems that most positions are pretty much “left” or “right”. Perhaps a blending of some sort?

    That being said – I am equally troubled by Christians who view the “left” as the enemy (people not just ideas) instead of loving them with the larger picture of heaven/hell in mind…Anyway just a few thoughts.

  • http://homeschool-chronicles.com tara

    Tim,

    As one of those liberal types from Cambridge, I don’t really get this post. It seems to caricature liberal objections to some forms of patriotism. I believe I am a proud patriot in the same way I am proud to be in my family. And I object to forms of patriotism in the same way I would to forms of familial pride that I think are ungodly.

    Watching the last Republican convention with two conservative Christians, I remarked that I was disturbed by all of the America First placards. They thought the cards were appropriate. I asked what they would think if I walked into church or to my local park with placards that read “Our Family First!” I don’t know that they agreed with me, but I think they saw why some people who love our country might find that kind of display of patriotism distasteful and even un-Christlike.

    I am proud of the amazing things our country has done and sad and repentent about the awful things we have done, just like I am of my family. Patriotism that is all rah-rah reminds me of a eulogy that only talks about someone’s virtues. The fact that I don’t have much taste for that kind of talk in any sphere does not seem to be accounted for in your post.

    In the body of Christ, we talk of humility, of understanding the need for a savior, of keeping our brokenness ever before us. I need a patriotism that looks and sounds and feels compatible with that. I’m not saying that flag-waving, 4th of July celebrations are wrong, any more than I am saying that birthday parties are wrong. But I am saying that if I don’t want to wear a flag lapel every day, and instead spend more time praying for my brothers and sisters being tortured or going hungry in other countries, I don’t want my patriotism questioned.

    I’m fairly certain that you will write back to say that you agree with me. But your piece doesn’t do justice to those of us who are “ultra liberal” and uncomfortable with many displays of patriotism.

    What do you think?

    t

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks for the comment, Tara. There were a few things that made me comfortable with this post. (1) I’m not referring to liberals in general but to ultra liberals, and I’m not referring to all ultra-liberals but only those who are so offended by America’s faults that they cannot recognize or celebrate its virtues. To my mind, you don’t fall into this camp. (2) I actually said that I don’t blame them for feeling this way. If you view America only or primarily in light of slavery, the abuse of the Native American populace, segregation, global exploitation, ‘aggression’ in Vietnam and Iraq and etc., anti-science fundamentalism, etc., then it makes sense to be unpatriotic. As I said, I don’t view this as a character flaw, I view it more as a bad ideology that has prevailed in some quarters of academia. I didn’t give much of a critique of that ideology in this case, for space reasons. I actually thought I was being pretty generous! :-)

      Do I think that you have been swayed to some extent by that bad ideology? Well, yes, I do. I imagine you probably believe I’m swayed to some extent by a bad ideology in the other direction. But you’ve not been swayed so much that you’re incapable of recognizing the positives. I hope nothing in my post gave you the impression that I would question your patriotism “if [you] don’t want to wear a flag lapel every day, and instead spend more time praying for [your] brothers and sisters being tortured or going hungry in other countries.”

      I think the rah-rah element is morally acceptable in certain times and circumstances, because there are times just to celebrate the positives. At a person’s birthday party, for instance, I might give a nice speech about someone and leave out the negatives. It’s just not the time or place. I think some ‘ultra-liberals’ have a hard time watching more conservative types celebrating America because they imagine those more conservative folks are unaware of or unconcerned with the negatives. In my experience, they’re mostly not unaware of unconcerned. They just think there that, yes there are negatives and we should know about them, but there are tremendous positives and it’s okay sometimes just to enjoy and celebrate them without feeling compelled at the same time to confess all the negatives.

      Anyway, those are my thoughts right now. Thanks as always for keeping me honest :-)

      • http://homeschool-chronicles.com tara

        okay, i want to let it go, but i just can’t yet.

        First, I gave the birthday example to grant that, yes, sometimes celebrating what is good about someone or about a country is wonderful. It’s wonderful. But it doesn’t make you morally inferior or ignorant if you are one of those people who doesn’t feel comfortable spending too much time doing that. It’s hard to picture Luther giving too many rousing speeches about what a jolly good fellow someone was.

        Second, you say that you don’t blame the liberals for their feelings because if only “only views America in light of slavery,” then one is bound to feel this way. And you later say that thinking in these negative terms is the result of a bad education. So what you are really saying is, “If I were as uneducated as you are, I might feel this erroneous way as well.” This, my friend, is not a generous sentiment.

        I don’t know of a single academic, not one, who only sees America in a negative light. The fact that some people may be called to focus more on the negative is okay. In biblical times, and when it was under the direction of God, we called those people prophets. No one says that Jeremiah didn’t love Israel. But if anyone talked that way today, they would be called unpatriotic. (And, yes, I know that you are not comparing Israel with America. I’m just making the point that vocal, angry, unrelenting calls to repent have their place.)

        Again, I’m not against lapel pins and flags and other celebrations. I’m just against caricatures of people who express their patriotism differently.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          I didn’t say bad education. I said bad ideology. There are lots of immaculately educated people who have been educated in bad ideologies. In fact, there’s probably no one who’s been thoroughly educated and not picked up one or two traces of bad ideology along the way.

          I guess I would say I don’t know any academic who would not acknowledge (verbally) that there are some positives to America’s history. But they can be so overwhelmed by the negatives, can see the negatives so out of perspective (in some cases perspective matters little, in others it matters a great deal) that they’re never really able to accept or appreciate the positives. I’ve known quite a few like this.

          And — again? — I don’t think it makes you morally inferior or ignorant if you’re uncomfortable celebrating what is good and wonderful. This is not a character flaw. And it’s not a matter of ignorance.

          Do you not agree that there are some (1) who have a problem with the very idea of patriotism? and (2) who are concerned in particular about patriotism with regard to America? So, if you call into this category (and I’m not sure that you do), you would have a set of objections that would apply to any patriotism (that it can lead in the direction of nationalism, militarism, etc.) and a set that apply specifically to America and not, say, Switzerland (although you might have some reasons for Switzerland too!). Those were the main contentions here. I had some professors who flatly told me that they thought patriotism was provincial, backward, and better left behind. And yet they got upset when their patriotism was challenged, I think mostly because they didn’t feel that a conservative (on television) was in a position to upbraid them.

          Where I thought I was being generous was in not — as is typical in these cases — saying that this is a matter of poor character or self-loathing or any of the usual culprits. I don’t think it is. I think it’s a matter of being captive to a bad way of looking at the world, in the same way that I think Keynesians are captive to a bad way of looking at economics, or Mormons to a bad way of reading scripture. As I wrote recently on Mormonism, I don’t think Mormons are irrational (and certainly not immoral) for believing what they do. Once you get inside that way of looking at the world, it makes a lot of sense internally, more sense than people often imagine when they’re looking at it from the outside. I think Mormonism is wrong, but not irrational, and that’s the way I view the kind of perspective on America that is so focused on America’s negatives (and in some cases sees them so out of context and proportion) that it is effectively blinded to its positives.

          • http://homeschool-chronicles.com tara

            You know, in general, of course, I agree with you. Especially if your main point is that you can’t be disgusted by the notion of patriotism and then be offended if someone questions yours. And that it’s possible for people of all political stripes to have a warped perspective on US history. It’s just that one or two lines that sound judgmental and caricature-like. Maybe that’s the price of writing blogs.

            But you DID say, “It was no character flaw that inspired her anti-patriotism. Her caricature of America’s history and character was merely a product of her education.” A bad education, yes?

            I’m just saying that most of the people who call themselves patriotic and those that don’t or are uncomfortable with the word would often (although of course not always) evaluate events in American history similarly. Slavery, bad. Women’s suffrage, good. Tuskegee experiment, bad. Access to public education, good. For most major events in US history, most of us would – given some room to admit that things are complicated – agree on how to understand them, yes?

            Jeremiah loved Israel, was willing to stay through conquest and die for Israel. But he sure didn’t have a lot of nice things to say to or about Israel. While not claiming that the Ivy League elite fall into this category, I wonder if angry, heart-broken, repentance-seeking prophets get to wear the patriotic label.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            It’s a good question. I do think that there is a place for a patriotism that is truly Christian and truly patriotism. Part of the question, I think, has to do with particularism (although this may not be *your* issue). Is it okay for me as a believer to feel and express a special love for my own country, or ought I simply to care for the whole world? Will my particular loyalties get in the way of my loyalty to God or my commitment to love all universally? Then another part of the problem has to do with the negatives. Can I fully celebrate my country — and, say, not even have a thought of the negatives on a day like July 4 — without tacitly endorsing or excusing or at least minimizing the terrible things it has done? The distinction between love of country and love of government is helpful, I think, but not always easy to observe.

            I also think that a person is educated “badly” to the extent that she is given a “bad” way of looking at the world (however that’s defined). This doesn’t mean she’s ignorant or uneducated, or that she received a bad education en toto. Take, for instance, students in China who are taught that science has disproven the existence of God. They receive a bad ideology; an ideology that is historically false, logically absurd, and morally and spiritually (in my view) dangerous. They can be exceedingly well educated in other senses of the term; but they have not been well educated on this point. I’m sorry if my post made it sound as though I viewed such people as ignorant or poorly educated in a more general sense. Noam Chomsky is one of the most intelligent and educated people around, but I think he holds to some bad ideologies and communicates those to his students, and to that extent those students, no matter how educated they might be, were in a sense mis-educated on those issues.

        • Ed Wallis

          With respect, tara, either
          A) you must live in extremely sheltered surroundings if you have never met a single academic who only views America in a negative light – or would you consider also including folks in your community who swallow whole whatever such “academics” say (known by V.I: Lenin as “useful idiots”), or
          B) you’re using an absolute when you include that word “only” as an evasive tactic.

          Granted, such individuals may have something good to say about America as they are picking out their government-paid groceries, etcetera. Leeching off of the labors of others is *not* what I would consider a healthy or positive view of America.

  • Tim

    Mark 10:35-45= the disciples argue about which one of them is the greatest, followed by the Lord inviting to exit this “Gentile competition” and to become radical servants

    Philippians 2:5-11= Jesus practices downward mobility, rejecting the “I am the greatest” stance

    Mark 3:31-35= Christ’s redefinition of family as those who do the will of God

    These New Testament themes make me uncomfortable with the concept of “patriotism,” not as a critique of the USA, but as a follower of Jesus.

    Yet, Timothy is right, I don’t like to be called “unpatriotic” because I hear that as meaning “I don’t love Americans or America.” In fact, I do. Jesus loves all, Americans are included in the all, therefore, I love America.

    Absolute loyalty and allegiance to Jesus redefines all other loves. I worry when other allegiances take center stage. When this happens, idolatry and ideology are close at hand.

  • william stout

    I was taught growing up that there are many kinds of patriotism besides the “flag waving type.” Flag waving, like public displays of religious activity, are actually pretty easy and may even be shallow. It’s easy to wear a flag pin but harder to become a volunteer EMT. Also, sometimes patriotism is used for selfish ends-that last refuge of scoundrels idea. Getting informed on a school bond issue and sharing your opinion, serving on a govt. board or committee as a volunteer, being a foster parent, being a volunteer fire fighter or school crossing guard, accepting jury duty, mentoring a troubled young person etc. are all high forms of patriotism. Organizing against what you feel is a misguided policy or an injustice is patriotic, be it left or right. Paying taxes honestly even when there is little chance of getting caught is patriotic. In other words, serving your community as a good citizen is patriotic regardless of whether or not your politics are right or left. Being a patriotic citizen at the community level helps our whole nation be stronger since the nation is sustained by the sum of our diverse communities. Our nation is enriched when diverse perspectives are debated in a civil manner. I cannot imagine living in a nation where the best ideas of the left or right throughout history were suppressed-it would be a much sadder, poorer United States.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I agree with every word here. In my definition, patriotism requires us to protest the government when it serves the country poorly and to support the government (whether or not it’s presently guided by our own party) when it serves the country well. And while I’ve been making some comments in defense of the flag-wavers, to say that I defend those who want to celebrate their love for country in a pretty direct and uncomplicated way is not to say that this is the only or even the ‘best’ (if there is such a thing) form of patriotism.

      Of course, as one commenter stated, patriotism becomes idolatry if it supersedes our loyalty to God. I take it that’s pretty obvious.
      -Tim

    • Ed Wallis

      As nice as the examples mentioned are, to me they signify “civic engagement” and not necessarily patriotism per se. The folks in San Francisco, California who get together and over-regulate every iota of existence (no selling of goldfish!) are engaged in such civic activity, but it is one that I consider to be is void of any appreciation of what is true to American values.


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