Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Are you a symbolic patriot?

It’s a red, white and blue week, and (surprise!) patriotism has flared over the presidential race like a turbo-charged bottle rocket.
Retired general-gone-slightly-loopy Wesley Clark questioned the value of John McCain’s military service in critiquing his fitness for the White House. (Read about Clark’s remarks here.

Critics of Barack Obama dredged up old photos of the candidate standing by, not covering his heart, during the national anthem. (Read Obama’s response here.)

But what exactly is the American patriot litmus test?
Do you wear a U.S. lapel pin? Do you know the U.S. flag code and place your right hand in the proper place while singing the national anthem? Is your Old Glory folded properly and displayed?
Those are symbolic actions. What about these?
Would you risk your life and livelihood to speak out against repression practiced in your own country?
Would you defend the First Amendment rights of a fellow citizen who uttered words or ideas you found repulsive or dangerous?
Those are harder actions. Yet they directly support the principles in the U.S. Constitution.
What do you think? What makes an American a patriot?


John said...

First off, for all those who run around with bumper stickers proclaiming "Don't blame me, I didn't vote" cease all participation now! The same goes for all those who fail to vote but don't brag about it.

If you choose not to participate in this most basic and fundamental act of citizenship, you cannot lay claim to the title "patriot".

Secondly, if you cannot show respect for the OFFICE of the President, whether or not you agree with the current occupant, you need not apply. We can disagree and dissent, but to disrespect the office is to disrespect all who have ever held it, and all those who voted for the person holding it.

If you disrespect our soldiers, you cannot claim to be a patriot... that's not symbolism, it's gratitude. None of our rights could exist, if not for the brave sacrifice of the men and women who have served in our armed forces since the birth of our nation.

If you belittle people for whom the symbols are important, then you can lay no claim to being a patriot... for the patriot understand and respects that some people need those externals to help them live up to the ideals they represent.

If you hate, you are not a patriot, for our nation was built upon a higher calling, a calling for the strong to protect the weak.

Patriotism is not about what we wear or what we think... it is about who we are and how we live. Mean spirited attacks, judgemental views which paint errors of judgement as lies and deceit and the hateful rhetoric of modern political strategy are the subtle enemy attacking all that is good and true about our nation. The patriot is the one who stands up and cries "Enough!"

nyxmike said...

I unfortunately see more Confederate flags than American flags around here, so there really is no point to his article.

almnc said...

To John: You cannot paint actions in extremes. I know soldiers who did not vote, but risked their lives for our country, does that make them anything less than patriots? To believe that our country was lied to, and to question our leaders is not mean-spirited if it is intended to bring forth change and exercise our rights as citizens, including the right to free speech. Patriotism is expressed in so many forms, far beyond the flag, from the teachers who work for next to nothing to educate a new generation, to the police officers who stand every day to protect us, to the soldiers who stand at danger's edge, to the men and women who simply live their lives doing their best to make this world the best they can for themselves and their families. If we fail to live our lives exercising the freedoms that we as a country have fought so hard to keep, then what was the point of the sacrifice in the first place. That includes the right of those who disagree to express those feelings. Otherwise, nearly 400 years of sacrifice and work will be wasted (and for the history buffs, I'm refering to our first colonists).

Tom said...

The whole concept of patriotism is pure nonsense. Too many Americans treat politics the same way they treat sports -- My Team is always good and Your Team is always evil. We are supposed to love our country unconditionally for no better reason than that we were born within its boundaries... what sense is there in that kind of mentality?

There is not one good reason I should be patriotic. Read the basic documents that founded this nation -- our rights are GOD-GIVEN, not generously granted to us by the government. The nation was founded FOR the people. As long as we perform our basic civic duties (vote, pay taxes, follow laws, etc.) we have every right to expect our rights to be upheld. We don't need to be thankful to the government for fulfilling its obligations -- that's not what obligations are about. If it fails to fulfill its obligations, we are expected to ditch it like an old lover and start over again.

This is why it's so disappointing to see "patriots" encouraging us to ignore the fact that our government has failed miserably for decades at fulfilling its obligations. What reason do any of us have to respect a military that has been misused ever since its last significant victory in the 1940s? What reason do we have to respect the office of the President when we've seen three total disgraces (Nixon, Clinton, Bush) in the last six administrations, all of whom should have been kicked out of office and none of whom actually were? What reason do we have to respect a flag that has become a worldwide symbol of greed, ignorance and violence?

Count me out of this mindless foolishness. My respect is for ideals, rights, liberties, opportunities... not feel-good images that cover up our hypocrisy to help us sleep easier at night. Our nation has become so corrupt that it's impossible for a thinking person to reconcile our ideals with our reality.