Wednesday, October 8, 2008

When Faced By Enemies External (Islam and its Jihad) or Internal: "Those who would Rule Over Us" for their own designs,

for what they think is "good for us" and "what we should" do or be doing, should we--figuratively or literally--"take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them?"

To bring it from the abstract to the concrete and the present:

What about someone who declares, "'Barack Obama will require you to work' and 'never allow you to go back to your lives as usual — uninvolved, uninformed.'"

Huh? What about that? Ruled from "the Top Down" How many here want that?

That's what the candidate-for-President-Obama's wife said.

So then when faced by enemies both from within and without, is "patriotism" a reason to resist and then attack?

How about,

My Country Right or Wrong

An outdated sentiment that! Or is it?
Is "patriotism" something to be derided, laughed at because the patriot is a sucker? A dupe? An instrument to be used by those who run the country?

I'll leave the deep philosophical arguments to the professional thinkers, the professors and the professors emeriti. (You will be able to read snatches from them later on down, after I have had my ple·be·ian, may layman's say.)

As I see it, the country that I live in, or whose citizenship I hold, when abroad, and whose diplomats supposedly protect me whilst there as far as they are able to*, should be able to count on my loyalty. But only if it is a free country--as free as any country can be without being an anarchy--and if while I am in the country, it protects me via its government(s) at all levels.

Then, at least for the time being, it is "my country."

Now for the "right or wrong." The country as such makes moves internally or externally only through its elected government(s)--plural because this includes local up to national.

It will make right moves and wrong moves. when it makes the right moves, we shrug and say, "Yes, well, that is as it should be." But were it to make a move that many of us take as wrong, then all hell breaks loose. We start attacking our own country--not the administration or the Congress--but the entire populace of the United States as being at fault.

The country--steered by its government--will make wrong moves or what can by many of us be considere as wrong moves. The response is not to condemn the entire population of the United states, but to express regret, go along with the Government to pay or make reparations, and move on.

What is irksome is when we keep on flogging ourselves and the Government when for instance enemy civilians are killed inadvertently during an engagement. Regrettable, yes. Avoidable--sometimes, sometimes not--the loss of American lives (even of military personnel**) must be weighed against those of enemy civilians.

Mistakes happen, with the best of intentions. Amongst the military--Americans kill Americans with what is termed as "friendly fire." Regrettable? Yes. Horrible? Yes. This does not evoke the emotions, however, as when civilians of an enemy population (enemy civilians are not all "friends" of the American military person).

So, when it's "our country wrong," and you see it as wrong, make amends, make certain that the same mistake is not repeated, then when faced by recriminations and hand-wringing, truly show mea-culpa-type of contrition--then shrug--and move on.

What is "patriotism" and is it outdated and silly sentimentalism, and where did it originate?

I'll let one of the professors--an emeritus one--provide the answer:

[I am quoting Walter Berns from his Reaction Essay of March 12th, 2008,"On George Kateb’s Patriotism"]

For this reason patriotism became linked with the rise of popular sovereignty. This development, in turn, depended on the discovery or pronouncement of new universal and revolutionary principles respecting the rights of man — see Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651) and John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (1690). From these new principles came new governments, first in America, then in France, and with them came a new understanding of patriotism, or an understanding other than, or in addition to, love of country, or the sort of filial piety associated with classical Sparta.

Alexis de Tocqueville was the first to recognize this new form of patriotism, or at least to speak of it. In his Democracy in America, he argued that this patriotism was more rational than the simple love of one’s native land. It was born of enlightenment, he said, "and grows with the exercise of rights." A few years later, Abraham Lincoln referred to the Founders of this country as "the patriots of ‘76," not, I think (or as Professor Kateb would have it), because they killed their erstwhile "British brethren," but, rather, because they established this free country. Lincoln said it was "the last best, hope of earth." Thus, he eulogized Henry Clay by saying that Clay loved his country "partly because it was his own country, but mostly because it was a free country; and he [worked zealously] for its advancement, prosperity and glory, because he saw in such the advancement, prosperity and glory of human liberty, human right and human nature." In a word, the patriotic Clay loved the idea of his country, or its principles.

[end quote]


Daniel Larison:
Pro Patria Mori
Posted on March 11th, 2008 by Daniel Larison

Who says,

[quoting Daniel Larison:]

The "danger" of patriotism, such as it is, is that citizens mistake their patriotic duty for more or less unquestioning support for unjust and/or illegal state policies and mistake criticism of those policies for attacks on their country, which they naturally resent. Instead of combating this dangerous confusion, Kateb reinforces and endorses it, which is why he has embarked on the misguided task of discrediting the very patriotism that tells this anti-imperialist that an "activist foreign policy" advanced through unjust and illegal wars is contrary to the best interests of America, a threat to constitutional government, the cause of increased consolidation of power in fewer hands and the pretext for the violation of numerous constitutional liberties.

[close quote]

And George Kateb in his On Patriotism
trashes patriotism--No "My Country Right or Wrong" for him when he concludes his argument with,

"Patriotism, more than any other passion in political life, makes virtues do the work of vices while promoting the praise of vices as disguised virtues. It thus sustains enormous moral perversity. If no one were a patriot, the world would be better off than it now is, when almost all are patriots. Theorists shouldn’t join in."

[close quote]

I close with a quote from Ross Douhart with whose essay, I delved into this delicate subject first, who says,

"But I'm with Larison: It's a mistake to conflate a country and its regime, and a patriot who ceases to love his country because it happens to be governed by a despot is no patriot at all."
[To which I can only add that that "the country" is the people living on that land, not its government, be it despotic or a democracy (republic?) or whatever going the wrong way. In other words, hate the government, the president, the congress the supreme court, but not your fellow citizens--not all of them anyway. lw]
Douhard goes on with,

"This doesn't mean that the patriot has to love the despot, or follow his commands. Love of country does not require absolute obedience to its government (indeed, it often requires the opposite), any more than love of family requires absolute obedience to one's parents, or absolute support for whatever one's children or siblings decide to do with themselves. This is what Chesterton meant with his famous dictum that "'My country, right or wrong,' is a thing that no patriot would think of saying. It is like saying, 'My mother, drunk or sober.'" (Though I would add that if you read them slightly differently - as statements of abiding love in bad times, rather than blanket endorsements of bad conduct - "my country, right or wrong" and "my mother, drunk or sober" are potentially admirable sentiments.) And it's a distinction that's missing from both Kateb's and Berns's essays, both of which seem to assume that the regime is the country, and vice versa, and that to love one is to love the other.

"The only complicating factor occurs in a case like the United States, where the character of the regime and the character of the people are bound together so tightly that it's hard to imagine one without the other."

All this is interesting, no doubt, and very enlightening, and I'd love to spend several hours more discussing it. But I have to continue on my path, before we let the entire country go into the Alinsky-envisoned hell--tried to be made real by the despicable William Ayres--associated with the less-than-palatable Barack Hussein Obama. In other words, "I gotta move on."

*I wouldn't count on them, if I were you. Not if you can use your own resources to take care of yourself and avoid any trouble.

**Especially the lives of military personnel

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