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    Yesterday, I was looking for a quote that I remembered as coming from Mark Twain:

"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it" Mark Twain

Strangely enough, this quote is not listed on
I did find some other quotes, listed below the fold, but my search for this quote and the things I found got me thinking:

What is Patriotism?

Mark Twain also wrote this, which is appropriate for the discussions today:

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."

I felt this quote should preface some of the other quotes regarding patriotism.

The definitions of patriotism throughout history illustrate the divides currently in place in our country.  

It is the love of country that has lighted and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism.  ~J. Horace McFarland

Men love their country, not because it is great, but because it is their own.  ~Seneca

He is a poor patriot whose patriotism does not enable him to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flag and their fatherland.  ~Harry Emerson Fosdick

Patriotism is easy to understand in America - it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.  ~Calvin Coolidge

The most tragic paradox of our time is to be found in the failure of nation-states to recognize the imperatives of internationalism.  ~Earl Warren

These are definitions of patriotism that Bush and McCain would have us embrace.  Frankly, quotes like these are a little hard to find.  More common are quotes which reflect the and trivialization of the word "Patriotism"

Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism - how passionately I hate them!  ~Albert Einstein

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.  ~Bertrand Russell

Patriotic societies seem to think that the way to educate school children in a democracy is to stage bigger and better flag-saluting.  ~S.I. Hayakawa

What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?  ~Lin Yutang

Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on his own dunghill.  ~Richard Aldington

Other great thinkers extol patriotism as something bigger that the traditional definition of patriotism as love of ones country- one that encompasses the global or even universal scope of responsibility:

I am not an Athenian or a Greek, I am a citizen of the world.  ~Socrates

Patriotism knows neither latitude nor longitude.  It is not climatic.  ~E.A. Storrs

The love of one's country is a splendid thing.  But why should love stop at the border?  ~Pablo Casals

    Others have defined patriotism as evil, as the source of war and oppression:

You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.  ~George Bernard Shaw

If I knew something that would serve my country but would harm mankind, I would never reveal it; for I am a citizen of humanity first and by necessity, and a citizen of France second, and only by accident.  ~Montesquieu

The stench of the trail of Ego in our History.  It is ego - ego, the fountain cry, origin, sole source of war.  ~George Meredith, Beauchamp's Career

Patriotism, the virtue of the vicious.  ~Oscar Wilde

Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched.  ~Guy de Maupassant

    Patriotism is many things to many people.  My search turned up this incongruous quote from Laura Bush:

Mrs. Bush's Message to the Children of the U.S. Military

March 31, 2003

To the children of the United States Military,

President Bush and I are very proud of your family members who are serving in America's armed forces. At this difficult time, every American is especially grateful to your loved ones for protecting our country and defending freedom.

We know being apart from the people you love is not easy. Remember that people all over the country care about you and your family.

President Bush and I send you our very best wishes and our prayers for the safe return of the people you love.

With warmest thoughts,

Laura Bush  

This is the quote that made me want to write a diary on the subject. This appears on the White House Kids site.  I find it incredibly offensive, especially in light of subsequent events.

   It reminds me quite vividly of another famous quote regarding the word 'Patriotism', which also reflect the dire consequenses of misusing words:

Hermann Goering:

   Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

There are many other quotes available  here,here, and here.

I could quote all day, but I think I'll let you have some quotes for your comments and views on the subject.  However, I'll include one more quote which I find poignant and telling:

"What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself"
Mark Twain

Originally posted to haremoor on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 11:25 AM PDT.


What is your definition of patriotism?

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| 88 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for your definition of Patriotism. (10+ / 0-)

    Auntie Em: Hate you. Hate Kansas. Taking the dog. Dorothy

    by haremoor on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 11:25:58 AM PDT

  •  Thomas Jefferson said it best (7+ / 0-)

    Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

    •  He also said this: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jeffersonian Democrat

      The cement of this union is the heart-blood of every American.  ~Thomas Jefferson

      Do they contradict each other?

      Auntie Em: Hate you. Hate Kansas. Taking the dog. Dorothy

      by haremoor on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 11:41:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no, not really (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murasaki, DBunn, haremoor

        when you consider that he implored people to question him, even when he was right, while he was president. (big contrast to today, huh?)

        The cement of the union is the Constitution, not the head executive.  At least, that is my reading of it and understanding of Jefferson.

        "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." - Thomas Jefferson

        by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:05:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Love the observation, and love the sig. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jeffersonian Democrat

          How nice it would be if people would just listen to Jefferson.  

            But Wolf Blitzer is louder.

          Auntie Em: Hate you. Hate Kansas. Taking the dog. Dorothy

          by haremoor on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:09:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The Constitution is the design (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jeffersonian Democrat

          ... of the union, but I wouldn't call it the cement.

          Jefferson had it right-- the cement must be an emotional commitment in the heart of every American.

          And you are right too-- that commitment must be to the natural rights of man which the Constitution was designed to protect and cultivate, not to some person who happens to be head of state.

  •  They could contradict (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but we are all complex, contradictory beings. Personally, I don't even think about patriotism. I have a lot more important things to deal with than to worry whether I am being patriotic enough for someone. I live to satisfy no one.

    •  Nor should you. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      se portland, DBunn

      My point would be that patriotism should never be dogmatic, that any true definition is not a static thing, that expresses one view only.

      Patriotism is the bludgeon that McCain will use to try to defeat Obama.  We should define it on our own terms.

      Auntie Em: Hate you. Hate Kansas. Taking the dog. Dorothy

      by haremoor on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 11:58:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Patriotism is not a slogan (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DBunn, haremoor

        From Glenn Greenwald's book How Would a Patriot Act?

        Upon drawing these conclusions, I developed, for the first time in my life, a sense of urgency about the need to take a stand for our country and its defining principles. I believe that the concentrated and unlimited power now claimed by President Bush constitutes a true crisis for the United States—that it has the potential to fundamentally change our national character, to irreversibly restrict our individual liberties and to radically alter our core principles. It is not hyperbole to observe that we are moving away from the founding principles of our constitutional republic towards theories of powers that the founders identified as the hallmarks of tyranny.

        Maybe we should start there.

        Four out five sock puppets agree

        by se portland on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:16:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think that this is the basis that Obama needs (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to embrace.  He, and we, need to define patriotism, and not let McCain do it for us.

          Your quote shows the urgency of this definition.

          Auntie Em: Hate you. Hate Kansas. Taking the dog. Dorothy

          by haremoor on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:20:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Is this Patriotism?? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  Finlandia (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murasaki, DBunn, haremoor

    (Words, Lloys Stone; Music Jean Sibelius)

    This is my song, O God of all the nations
    A song of peace, for lands afar & mine
    This is my home, the country where my heart is
    Heare are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine
    But other hearts in other lands are beatingWith hopes and dreams as true and high as mine

    My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
    And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine
    But other lands have sunlight too, and cloverAnd skies are everywhere as blue as mine
    O hear my song, thou God of all the nations
    A song of peace for their land and for mine

    Indigo Girls version can be heard free if you're willing to install the Rhapsody player.  It's based on RealAudio but is far less invasive, IMO.  Never been a regular subscriber but use it occasionally for examples like this one.

    Indigo Girls: Finlandia

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:11:48 PM PDT

    •  Hmmm, try a different link (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Indigo Girles: rarities and early work, with Finlandia being the last listed track.

      It's a very conventional a cappella version of the hymn, not really a fresh arrangement let alone a rock-n-roll one.

      Anyhow I like this expression of patriotism as a natural and universal emotion which should NOT be allowed to lead to false exceptionalism.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:17:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Never saw the lyrics before (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but love the music, which to me sounds like a call to rise beyond yourself, a call to join with others.

      It's resounding music, and much more of a hymn than nat'l anthems usually are --most are martial calls to war.

      Democrats promote the Common good. Republicans promote Corporate greed.

      by murasaki on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:27:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Frederick Douglas (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    se portland, DBunn, haremoor

    I am one of those who think the best friend of a nation is he who most faithfully rebukes her for her sins—and he her worst enemy, who, under the specious and popular garb of patriotism, seeks to excuse, palliate, and defend them.

    This statement is false.

    by DoxDox on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:25:10 PM PDT

  •  Leo Tolstoy stated my favorite ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Patriotism in its simplest, clearest, and most indubitable signification is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for the ruled the abdication of human dignity, reason, and conscience, and a slavish enthralment to those in power. And as such it is recommended wherever it is preached.

    Patriotism is slavery.

    Leo Tolstoy, On Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence, 1896

  •  I won't trade HUMANITY ... (0+ / 0-)

    ...for PATRIOTISM.

    --Immortal Technique.

    If the solution has never been to look at yourself, how is it that you expect to find it anywhere else?

    by glutz78 on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 01:15:20 PM PDT

  •  The first principle must always be (0+ / 0-)

    ... Do the Right Thing. Patriotism is fine to the extent that it conforms to the first principle.

  •  Stupidity. (0+ / 0-)

    Good countries don't need it. They will get their loyalty as a result of the benefits they confer on their citizens.

    Bad countries don't deserve it. Strange, often the worse the country, the louder the calls for its citizens to love it.

    Really, what function does patriotism have other than to paper over faults and excuse crimes?

  •  Might want to read this (0+ / 0-)

    The True Patriot by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer

    The True Patriot

    it is 4in x 8in with 129 pages...It is for Liberals and Progressives...How to take back the word patriot

    "The Conservatives definition of torture: Anything that provides death or false information from its captive." Me 2007

    by army193 on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 01:57:36 PM PDT

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