Monday, July 21, 2008

Patriotic Consistency

Jockeystreet has a challenging and thought-provoking post up, calling Americans to be consistent about their patriotism. He references a near-massacre during the Korean War:

Because the reaction of so many to a story like this will be to trivialize it, to say that that was then, this is now. To accept no responsibility. To feel no regret. "I wasn't there." So on, so forth. (And I hear this all the time. Slavery? "It was a long time ago, I wasn't there, it's not my fault." Native American genocide? "It was a long time ago, I never shot an Indian.")
But it seems to me that the same people who can't be bothered to think about some of these very deeply disturbing events in our collective history are the same people who so gloriously beat their chests and wave their flags on the Fourth of July.

They prattle on about the Declaration of Independence. They are very, very proud of beating up on those Germans in World War II. They think we really showed the British. And built the first printing press. And invented flying machines. And did everything awesome that was ever done.
They never stop, shrug their shoulders, and say they've got no real reason to be so proud. They never say "It was a long time ago, I didn't do it, I wasn't there."
I'm all for being proud of the Declaration fo Independence. I'm all for being proud of the good things in our collective history.

For the sake of consistency, I just ask that we acknowledge the wrong while revelling in the right. That we stop basking in our corporate glory now and then just long enough to accept our share of corporate guilt.


Anonymous said...

In post-9/11 America there is a serious cultural conflation of patriotism and nationalism. The current administration has blended nationalism, cheesy sentimentality and consumerism (patriotism = flag lapel pins, car magnets, red white & blue neckties, etc.) in order to label as "unpatriotic" anyone who dares criticize their policies. That's not patriotism, it's nationalism.

Patriotism means a love of country but with a critical eye on policy and history. A patriot loves country, but is free to find America's foreign policy, inconsistent stand on torture, etc. unconscionable.

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