Thursday, July 3, 2008

Redefining Patriotism

Time for another non-RE post.

I was sitting at Dallas/Ft. Worth airport this morning, when people spontaneously stopped and broke into applause. The applause was contagious and within seconds, almost everyone in the terminal was clapping. The reason….service men and women had deplaned and were walking through the airport.

This scene, which occurred a day before the 4th of July, brought tears to my eyes.

Yet it also reminded me of the frustrations I have felt, since 9/11/2001 about the meaning of patriotism. For quite some time, anyone who disagreed with President Bush and his policies was vilified as being “unpatriotic”. At the same time, anyone who wore a uniform was instantly labeled a hero and patriot. Somehow the many freedoms, that our military have fought all these years to preserve, have been subjugated by rhetoric and fear mongering.

The support we showed our troops at the airport this morning stands out as a reminder of how things could and should be. I am routinely saddened, by the lack of support and respect we show fellow Americans in our everyday lives. So many are quick to judge and condemn. Of course the media today panders to this mentality, taking statements out of context and crucifying those who made them.

While I am dismayed at the religious extremism that fuels terrorists abroad, I have been equally dismayed at the extremism which has taken hold here in the U.S., much of it wrapped in patriotic fervor. The fact that a commercial with a well known cook (Rachael Ray) was pulled from the air because she was wearing a scarf (thought by some to be symbolic of terrorist support) is just absurd. Have we learned nothing since McCarthy’s day?

This country was founded on principles of civic debate, participation and tolerance. In my mind, actively exercising these virtues are what make us patriotic. Americans who display intolerance and hatred toward each other and foreigners, in the name of patriotism, should not be placated. Their behavior makes them no better than those they profess to hate.

Instead, we must be confident in our democratic principles and lead by example.


anon1137 said...

Well written, AB. I agree 100%.

Sold in '05 said...

Thanks for the posting AB.

I’ve always liked your blog on RE. The political spectrum however is fraught with peril. I will in spite of my better judgment attempt to offer a little right lean to your slight left.

I would start by asking; what freedoms you or anyone that you personally know have actually lost? The only things that I can think of that have impacted my personal circle are nuisance items like the pain in the rump that air travel has become or needing a passport to travel to Canada or Mexico, but other than the inconvenience, I actually think these are good things. My main worry about invasion of personal privacy comes from the fear of future LEFT wing administrations abusing these laws for the purpose of securing political power instead of what they were intended for (maybe YOU will be more comfortable under President Obama). This last item is of course just a fear (for now) and has had not even a tiny impact on my real life or liberty.

Extremism is quite well and alive on both ends of the U.S. political and social spectrums, so don’t feel too much like you are being unfairly oppressed by an ignorant minority. Easy examples of hatred and intolerance of other people’s views and beliefs are readily on display every day within the far left wings of the gay and anti-war/Bush movements. Like most left leaning ideologies, these movements offer great encouragement of individual expression as long as it is in “correct” support of the cause’s goals. However no quarter is given for any dissent from the goals or questioning of the movement, just ask Joe Lieberman how his war views are treated or any Democrat who favors civil unions over gay marriage. While the philosophy may be of high purpose, in practice the implementation of any extreme view requires moving with great force to control and impose views on others, regardless of their standing as a majority OR minority. This is the way of ALL extremists, left or right or religious or environmentalist or atheist or capitalist or socialist or whatever. So while you may “feel” the media is in the tank for wars and big oil, I may equally “feel” that they are in the tank for war protestors and big eco-ism. The truth probably is that the media loves them all because any conflict is good for the media.

As far a being a patriot, it really has little to do with any political view. It is about a person’s willingness to make personal sacrifices for something they believe in. A Patriot of the United States must be willing to give some or all of what they personally have to support the nation as a whole and act to secure the nations future. Just because someone is willing to give their full support to a political ideology/cause does NOT make them a Patriot of the United States and because extremism can be damaging to a nation, may preclude them from being a patriot of THIS nation while not excluding them from being a patriot for ENIMIES of this nation. Members of the military are quite easily able to claim status as Patriots of the United States. They have voluntarily offered their very lives to the purpose of physically securing the United States. They do so regardless of their political and social views, obeying orders given in the end by the will of the people whether they agree or not. They voluntarily sacrifice their time, families and even some of their personal rights under the Constitution. They are cheered because we are certain that they are truly Patriots and today that is a rare thing.

Have a happy 4th of July.

C. Fox

Buying Time said...

Sold in '05 -

I did not purposely venture into the political, I was attempting to make a statement about how Americans treat each other (the political is just a good example of intolerance and close mindedness). It certainly doesn't help that the media loves to emphasize how we are divided as opposed to united.

Just because people disagree, or go to different churches doesn't mean we can't still get along as Americans. Mr. BT & I come from opposite sides of the isle, and different faiths. Extremism in all forms (right or left) worries me and seems to be growing due to the Internet's ability to connect previously isolated groups.

One of the motivations for writing this post came two years ago when I was in Toy-R-Us. A woman in a head scarf was standing 2 people behind me in the checkout counter. A man came up to her and started yelling at her and berating her. Telling her she was in America and needed to act like an American. The woman, who's English was very good, was beside herself (I thought for a minute he was going to physically abuse her). Another mom and I intervened then apologized profusely to her. As an American, I was very appalled at this supposedly "patriotic" behavior.

Patient Renter said...

On this topic, there's a prominent argument that America has lost faith in freedom and liberty, instead choosing "safety" and a government that takes care of them. I tend to agree. There's a section of the Creed of Freedom that I like, which addresses this:

"I believe that the proper role of government is negative, not positive; defensive, not aggressive. It is to protect, not to provide; for if the state is granted the power to provide for some, it must also be able to take from others, and once that power is granted, there are those who will seek it for their advantage. It always leads to legalized plunder and loss of freedom. If government is powerful enough to give us everything we want, it is also powerful enough to take from us everything we have. Therefore, the proper function of government is to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens; nothing more. That government is best which governs least."