The Question of Patriotism as it Relates to Diversity
What is patriotism? What does it mean to be a patriot? If one was to examine these questions objectivity we would get a variety of answers that are pleasant and conforming enough to satisfy most. According to Dictionary.com, patriotism is defined as:
"The act of loving, supporting, and defending ones country with enthusiasm and devotion."
While this answer may be one that makes someone feel good on the inside, it generally fails to address a necessary and very relevant series of sub-questions:
-What if the county is wrong and does not deserve its people’s love and devotion?
-Does being a patriot mean elevating the state above the individual or does it mean to guard the individual, which is the smallest minority there is in society, against the oppressive powers of the state?
When these catechisms are critically evaluated, we are inexorably led to question whether or not the official and commonly accepted definition of patriotism is a valid one.
For this argument, I will explore patriotism as it relates to diversity and attempt to redefine the word 'patriot' into one that more accurately reflects its true meaning in the United States specifically, and explain the importance of respecting and defending diversity as a defining factor of the America identity.
September 11th, 2001 was a day that, for those who experienced it especially, we will ever forget it. Terrorist attacking the United States of America and killing over 3,000 innocent people led to a nationalist uprising that, among other things, led to a renewed sense of apparent patriotism in the country.
Americans felt a collective need to seek revenge on behalf of those needlessly killed by bringing justice to those that were responsible for the violence and death inflected upon us, we were united by that need.
Throughout history, politicians have used times like these as a means to push otherwise illegal or previously unpopular agendas and manipulate the emotions of citizens to advance their political or ideological goals, as Rahm Emanuel, an American politician and the former mayor of New York, once said, “ Never let a crisis go to waste”. In the wake of 9/11, several executive orders were handed down, bills pushed through Congress and actions taken that just a few months earlier might not have had a chance to be accepted into law due to varying degrees of controversy.
The Patriot Act is one of these laws that were enacted by piggy-backing the theme of patriotism which was foremost in the American psyche at the time.
On October 26th, 2001 President George W. Bush pushed through Congress a bill that allowed the government unprecedented, far reaching and arguably unconstitutional powers that have never been seen before in American history. These powers permitted the
warrantless search and wiretapping of American citizens, as well as, the arrest and indefinite detention of the same.
In many cases, those that opposed this massive invasion into the rights of citizens were decried as being “unpatriotic” or “un-American” scoundrels that were deserving of contempt. It's important to realize that this weren't leftist or rightist political attacks against the public, it was a united effort from all levels of government.
While these individual’s love for their country were being questioned, it would have been better to question whether the Patriot Act was a good piece of legislation to being with. One that accurately reflected our American values of diversity, tolerance, and respect. If not, then we would have to ask ourselves how it would be patriotic to support this measure at all.
All too often, individuals get too emotionally involved in concepts or ideas and no longer give certain actions proper consideration before supporting them. We see this often in the vetting of political candidates. Therefore, is it truly “unpatriotic” to question and stand opposed to doctrines or government actions pushed upon us under the guise of “patriotism” if they are not in keeping with the values we hold dear?
One of the major problem with the Patriot Act and other bills that are pushed under this false pretense of patriotism is that they tend to unfairly target specific groups of people. This, essentially, becomes a sort of government sponsored racism which does far more harm than good and serves to divide and separate us whether than protect us.
After 9/11 it was an easy thing to cast blame at any racial or religious group not familiar to us and assign hatred and blame towards them for the events that transpired. The undertone associated with this mentality was that of patriotism thus pushing the premise that a love for one’s country is seemingly linked to hatred for the countries alleged enemies, whether they be real or imagined, as well as, the acceptance of government infringment of our rights in order to "protect" us from these alledged threats.
Politician’s cries of patriotism can over-shadow the necessary diligence for respect and tolerance of the diversity within our nation as demonstrated when examining Cynthia Weber’s book “I am an American”.
In her masterpiece, we clearly see the importance of diversity in America and how calls for patriotism can be disguised as racism or nationalism. Considering that, it is always important to be critical of any sort of public outcry that is labeled as “patriotic” or anything of the sort and examine the undertones and suggestions associated with it to make sure that it is in keeping with the morality and values held within ourselves as a nation. Otherwise, we risk isolating and singling out particular cultures or ethnicities and losing the very thing that defines us as a country.
While this type of anti-American behavior is perhaps most commonly demonstrated on the individual level, it is most dangerous when it has a state sponsored, and thus oppressive, element to it.
Ok, so if we are going to reject the commonly accepted definition of "patriotism" what should we replace it with? For that answer, I look towards Dr. Ron Paul former Representative from Texas’ 14th Congressional District.
Dr. Paul, long time proponent of liberty, personal freedom and individual rights and once defined patriotism as simply, “that effort to resist oppressive state powers” and that it most certainly was not, “obedience to the state”. Representative Paul concluded by saying; “But whether the resistance against government tyrants is nonviolent or physically violent, the effort to overthrow state oppression qualifies as true patriotism.” I submit this as a superior definition for the word. It simply more accurately reflects our mentality, values, history and morality as a nation.
The original American patriots during the American Revolution rose in opposition to the tyrannical rule of King George and fought for independence. These patriots saw it as a necessary step to take in order to ensure that the values and morals of the people were not infringed on by the state. While Representative Paul’s definition was more accurate than the one offered in the dictionary, Mrs. Weber would argue that true patriotism involves protection and respect for the diversity of the country as well. She would argue that unless we love, support, and defend all; we love, support, and defend none. That being said, we as a nation should oppose by any means necessary any law, edict, or order handed down to us that violates our universal morals and values and targets any specific group or sect of our people unnecessarily or irresponsibly .
In conclusion, to be American,in a sense, is to be diverse. It is that diversity that makes us strong and it helps support our country as being the best and freest one on the planet. Therefore, to be a patriot, in the truest sense, is to respect that diversity and forever guard it against the oppressive internal and external factors that exist both on the individual and state level. Respecting diversity among all of our people is absolutely an essential and irrevocable aspect of our society, as we must forever remember; the smallest minority in the world in the individual. We must never confuse patriotism with tyranny and allow short sighted safety, as represented by the Patriot Act of 2001, to exist at the expense of our liberty or freedom.
For as Benjamin Franklin once said, “They who can give up essential freedom to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
"Dictionary.com." patriotism. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jun 2012
Franklin, Benjamin. Memoirs of The Life of Benjamin Franklin. London: J. Parson’s, 1793. Print
Li, Q., and M. Brewer. “What does it mean to be an American? Patriotism, Nationalism,
and the American Identity after 9/11.” International Society for Political Psychology.,
2004. 727-739. JSTOR. Web. 18 Jun 2012. .
Paul, Ron. Speech on the House Floor about Patriotism. United States House of
Representatives, Washington, D.C., 22 May 2007
United States. Cong. H.O.R. US Patriot Act of 2001. 107th Cong. H.R. 3162. Washington: GPO,
Weber, Cynthia. I am an American. Bristol, UK: intellect, 2011. Print
Zeleny, Jeff. "Obama Weighs Quick Undoing of Bush Policy." The New York Times. N.p., n.d.
Web. 20 Jun 2012. .
I believe Hillary was the "identified symbol" of the "Woman Riding the Beast"
Under her skirt deceptive media, conspiracies, antichrist spirit of evil against Christ, Iran, globalization, corruption, race baiting, SOWING Divisions! Woe!
Her skirt was lifted and we who can see, did see!