Patriotism (or not) on 7/4/06 - Granite Grok

Patriotism (or not) on 7/4/06

I read a lot of blogs pretty much most days.  This entry from Thomas Sowell caught my eye, and while it is talking mostly about the NYT and the lack of concern / the overabundance of hubris, for me the money quote is this:

Patriotism is not chic in the circles of those who assume the role of citizens of the world, whether they are discussing immigration or giving aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime.

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire was as much due to the internal disintegration of the ties that bind a society together as to the assaults of the Romans’ external enemies.

The pride of being a Roman citizen was destroyed by cheapening that citizenship by giving it to too many other people. The sense of duty and loyalty eroded among both the elites and the masses.

Without such things, there could be no Roman Empire. Ultimately, without such things, there can be no United States of America. In neither case have tangible wealth and power been enough to save a country or a civilization, for the tangibles do not work without the intangibles.

In my mind’s eye, true Patriotism is putting your country ahead of any other.  Patriotism is fully believing in the ideals and potential of your country to the exclusion of others, and willing to make a stand for those beliefs even when unpopular. And Patriotism is willing, when and if necessary, to put your country ahead of your needs.

That is not to say that the ills of your country are swept under the rug; nay, one works to correct those ills.  However, while doing so, one advances, publicizing and dissemimates the positives. 


And from Michelle Malkin:

One of my favorite passages from Zell Miller’s RNC speech sets the theme for today’s July 4th news and notes:

Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier.

And, our soldiers don’t just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home.

For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom he abuses to burn that flag.


And from Betsy Newmark, the Posting "Thoughts on Patriotism" (sorry, no permalink available on her posting just yet – it is just listed on her home page  -Skip) as she talks about the difference in how conservatives and liberals view patriotism.  She hits the nail on the head in bringing up the WHY (quoting Thomas Sowell!)

What accounts for this difference? I think it goes back to intrinsic differences between how liberals and conservatives view the world. I am reminded of the division that Thomas Sowell discusses in his masterful work, A Conflict of Visions. A conservative (or as Sowell terms it – the constrained vision) accepts that man is imperfect and that the choices we have are often between two rotten alternatives. A liberal (or in Sowell’s term – the unconstrained vision) is more likely to focus on the faults and not accept that the ideal was not possible.

At the extremes, the constrained vision says, "My country, right or wrong," while the unconstrained vision casts its exponent in the role
of a citizen of the world, ready to oppose his own country, in words or actions, whenever he sees fit. Patriotism and treason thus become a meaningless distinction at the extremes of the unconstrained vision, while this distinction is one of the most central and most powerful distinctions in the constrained vision.

Witness the attitudes towards the Founding Fathers. Some people are likely to look at how our Founders allowed our nation to form with the original sin of slavery accepted right there in the Constitution and condemn them and the Constitution. Others look at the alternative of not being able to come to an agreement on the Constitution and having the country collapse under the weight of all the defects in the government in that critical period and are able to honor the result of those negotiations at the Constitutional Convention despite the obvious faults present.

If you have the mindset that, until we achieve the ideal, you cannot love the country, you will not answer that Pew poll question positively that you consider yourself very patriotic. You may love the possibility of what this country can become, but your reservations will outweigh whatever it is that you honor about this country. And, I would maintain, that people holding that position are more likely to have a liberal viewpoint on a whole host of issues.

Conversely, if you see the faults of this country, but still are willing to love it because you recognize that it is the best of the possible alternatives, you will be able to answer that question in the positive. You will love this country, faults and all, and waving the flag doesn’t reflect your support for a particular president or policy, but for the whole idea of this country. And, I believe, that conservatives are more likely to look at the country and love it despite its faults.

We see this division in the approach to teaching American history. Liberals want to focus on the warts of our past. Focus on which groups were oppressed and denied rights. I see so much of that in the materials presented in textbooks and standardized tests. These topics become like the blemish on a friend’s face. You can’t see anything but that blemish and whatever beauty there is on your friend’s countenance becomes invisible because you keep staring at that fault. I’m not advocating ignoring those blemishes of our past, but keep an eye out for the bigger picture also. And recognize that no society has a perfect past, because man is not perfect.


 And just for giggles, here is Cindy Sheehan herself, demonstrating so well the Lefty outlook on patriotism as described above:

The star-spangled banner, which I can now see whipping in the wind outside of an airport terminal where I am writing this from does not fill me with pride: it fills me with shame and that flag symbolizes sorrow and corruption to me right now. The flag represents so much lying, fixed elections, profiting by the war machine, high gas prices, spying on Americans, rapid erosion of our freedoms while BushCo literally gets away with murder, torture and extreme rendition, contaminating the world with depleted uranium, and illegal and immoral wars that are responsible for killing so many. A symbol which used to represent hope to so many around the world now fills so many with disgust.

 Please note – it gives me no pleasure linking to where this snippet was copied from….

 UPDATE:  In wandering around the ‘net, I found myself at Weekend Pundit (and see our Blogroll) and found a Posting expressing similar emotions.  It can be found here.