This is an interesting, and utterly misguiding article on American patriotism. It begins, “Patriotism is the organising passion of modern political life in the United States yet its vitality defies obvious explanation.” Not really. I believe that the vitality is easily explained.
It goes on, “The country has no national education system. There’s neither compulsory military nor civil service. No government agency distributes the ubiquitous US flags, nor enforces observance of the rituals to country performed at schools and sporting and political events throughout the country.” Which should tell the author something about the nation of this patriotism. But he is still confused, “Despite lacking the classic machinery for inculcating patriotism and spreading it among the people, American patriotism is a norm in the true sense.”
First off, I submit that if it is pushed as propaganda by the government it is not true patriotism. That is the explanation for the author. Americans actually don’t need to be told that their country is worth while. They want to support it. Sometimes, too much so, but that’s a different discussion for a different day.
Karl Marx once said, “The working men have no country” and he was wrong when it comes to the American working man. That’s because in America the working man was able to make something of himself and stand on his own. He knew that it was the American system that allowed him to do this. So he had a great fondness for his nation. Not nationalism, not that dirty word that so many eschew, but true patriotism, or love for the country one calls home.
The author then dives deep into falsehood and his own bias when he writes, “American patriotism has always depended on conjuring alleged conspiracies from migrants or outsiders bearing existential threats: foreign devils all. ” That is demonstrably not true as droves of those migrants came to the US filled with patriotism before they ever set foot on her soil.
The author again misses the point when he writes, “This core component of American patriotism – the popular conviction in a world-historical role for the US – is unlikely to continue. First, it is increasingly difficult not to notice that in many basic matters of government and society, including healthcare, public education, gender equity, social mobility and prosperity, economic fairness, childcare, environment and more, the US has fallen behind most of the developed world. ”
Americans, the majority still, don’t see us as having fallen behind. We look at the UK with its knife ban and arrests of people for speaking and shake our heads glad we shed ourselves of them. We take note of how many things EU regulations forbid. We take note of how often other nations rely on American for their protection. We take note of every child that is let to die in universal healthcare’s loving embrace.
The author concludes is misguiding and ignorant piece with, “It is time to start treating American patriotism – the most deadly form of identity politics – as a question, not an answer.” That demonstrates that he doesn’t understand American, Americans, or American Patriotism. True American patriotism has never been an unquestioning thing. It fact it is built upon the notion of questioning. I think that it’s just that the author doesn’t care for what it is that American patriotism questions. It questions the government in a true Jeffersonian manner.
That’s the key to understanding the strength and longevity of American patriotism. It isn’t love of government, it’s love of country. The actual country and the people in it. American patriotism, despite what the author says, isn’t held sacred. That is the difference, I think, between nationalism and patriotism. We don’t love the nation, we love our homeland with an emphasis on “home”.