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View Diary: I am not a patriot (42 comments)

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  •  Patriotism or nationalism? (none)
    They get interchanged a lot but I think there's a difference.

    Nationalism is, to my mind, "My country right or wrong." We all know that's for scoundrels and deluded fools. Patriotism, on the other hand, is one's willingness to protect your country and your countrymen.

    Patriots fight to ensure equal rights. Patriots fight to keep the "American dream" accessible to all enterprising souls. Patriots fight to keep Gonzales from becoming our Attorney General, Novak from disseminating propaganda, etc, etc, etc...

    America is not so much a country as it is an idea. We are not so much countrymen as we are transitory keepers of this democracy, liberty and justice. Without democracy, liberty and justice as our guiding lights, America is just another piece of real estate between Canada and Mexico.

    Can you honestly tell me that you do not value democracy, liberty and justice? Can you honestly say that you cannot in good conscience protect and defend those values for the good of America? Can you honestly contend that there is no nobility in that patriotism?

    •  Active Citizen? (none)
      Being an advocate for human rights and the laws that make those rights (and attendant responsibilities) operational -- at multiple jurisdictions -- sounds more like what you are interested in, rather than either patriotism or nationalism. Being a good citizen -- at local, state, national, and international levels (plus a few odd levels, like a regional part district).

      No one really goes around warring from town to town or state to state anymore.... unless you want to count the fisticuffs at various sports events, or cross-neighborhood gang violence, and noone condones either of those as Good Things.  So, what's so different about the national level, that we have to get all Righteous and break out the bombs?  

      I think that's what Dove is getting at -- I know it's what I'm trying to get at.....

      •  Not necessarily (none)
        Although I respect your viewpoint, and Dove's.

        My position is that this country is not a country in the traditional sense. We were born into the burden and delight of being the keepers of its principles, which upon this nation's birth were said to be forever binding. No American can truly be an American in spirit without being a keeper of those ideals for this country - which invariably means being a good citizen, staying prepared to grant consent for governance to those ends.
        And it is America specific (although I have tremendous compassion for the plight of others around the world and do a lot privately to help when I can). I feel I have a duty to keep America's democracy strong, defend my personal liberty and the liberty of our nation and protect access to justice for all.

        It's a lot more complicated than time constraints permit me to explain right now, actually. And it may not be something we agree on, which may not even be necessary in order for us each to protect America's nobility. But it's hardly a shallow concept or commitment.

        •  But other nations have principles, too... (none)
          The US was 'conceived' by it's Declaration of Independence and then 'born' by its Constitution. I don't know that that's Unique In All The World.... it's certainly not unique that one group of folks invaded the land of other folks and then decided to set up their own government.....

          Maybe other nations actually have it harder and deserve additional credit for being 'born again' -- i.e., sometime in their adolescence or adulthood they looked at what they were and said they needed to do something differently -- believe in human rights and have faith in democracy(in one of many possible forms), without running over into some other group's lands to 'start from a clean slate'.

          I used to think that because I was born into the US, that somehow I had a special obligation to the US, but I sure didn't have a problem moving out of my hometown or home state -- or the regional park district! I do think, now, that where ever I live, I have an obligation to hold those governments to their ideals -- as embodied in municipal charters,  state consitutions, and national constitutions.

          I consider myself to be "truly an American in spirit", i.e., being active to keep America to the ideals embodied in the national Constitution, but I don't at all consider that I need to be "America specific."  To me, the first just doesn't require the second in any way.

          Anyway, I appreciate the discussion....

    •  Democracy, liberty and justice (none)
      are not American values. They are human values and ideals and they are not the product or property of any nation. When these values are claimed as 'American,' (or British or Zambian for that matter) the struggles and accomplishments of people all over the world are belittled.

      Re. patriotism as 'protecting your country and your countrymen?'  

      Hmmm. You seem to be assuming I'm an American. I'm not. The U.S. is certainly one of the places towards which I direct my unpatriotism, since I lived there for a long time, was politically active there, and have close familial ties there. But I don't see patriotism as an evil peculiar to the United States, although I do think it runs rife there.

      I don't have a country that I would claim as mine in the sense that I think you mean -- in the sense of some kind of straight-forward unproblematic 'belonging.' There are countries where my rights to be political and my rights to live and work are recognised. I don't have voting rights in the country where I hold citizenship, for example, but I do have limited voting rights in the country where I currently live as a non-citizen. And I consider all of the various places that I've lived 'home' in some ways and 'not home' in others.

      The concept of 'countrymen' gets troublesome too. If you mean 'people that I happen to have the same citizenship as, but don't know personally,' well, I don't see my obligations to strangers as being based on citizenship. In any case, in my ordinary life I don't usually encounter (in person) people with the same citizenship as me -- one or two people a year at most, so it's kind of moot.
      (Obviously I phone my family, and try and keep in touch with old friends though)

      The people I'm inclined to want to protect are my husband, our families, my neighbours, my friends, the people I work with, and the people I've been involved in activism with. Most of them don't have the same citizenship as me.

      And I do honestly contend that there is no nobility in patriotism, for any country. Do lots of people who call themselves patriots do much that is good in the world? Yes. But I think they do that good despite their patriotism, not because of it.


      I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth and I am a citizen of the world -- Eugene Debs

      by dove on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 05:14:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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