Maybe those of you not living in caves have heard that there’s been quite a bit of questioning of presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama’s patriotism. That’s right: Americans just aren’t sure Barack Obama is patriotic enough. This all started with the matter of an American flag lapel pin which Obama refused to wear, saying it was “a substitute for true patriotism.” You can check out his response here.
Obama’s definition of patriotism aside, I don’t care to hear politicians talk about how patriotic they are because it’s a terrible trait in a nation’s leadership. You don’t have to agree, but you’re wrong. Here’s a few reasons why:
5. Patriotism and Nationalism are the same damn thing.
First off, let’s take a look at how Webster defines a few terms regarding love of one’s country.
patriotism, n. devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.
nationalism, n. 1. devotion and loyalty to one’s own nation; patriotism. 2. excessive patriotism; chauvinism . . . .
So why the negative connotation placed on the word “nationalist,” while we in America spend so much time wondering if our elected officials are patriotic enough? What is the difference between these two concepts? The answer is: nothing. There is no difference. It is the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist. They are a nationalist if they are foreigners; they are a patriot if we share the same nationality. The difference between patriotism and nationalism is one of perception, so let’s call a spade a spade. What the Patriot Patrol are looking for is a nationalist President.
Nazism Nationalism Patriotism blinds leadership to the faults in their own country.
You’re probably asking, “what’s your point, Riley? We’re not here to read about semantics.” The point is: nationalism makes leaders blind. Nationalism blinds citizens to the problems in their country. It is patriotism that makes the Constitution virtually a holy text, to remain unquestioned and untainted 220 years later. Oh, sure, it’s a living document, right? We’ve got amendments. If your kid brought home a science book from school that was written in 1787, would you really give a rat’s ass how many editions the book has had? Yet we hold the Constitution to a different standard than our children’s education – because it’s unpatriotic not to.
3. Patriotism is often used as a political red herring.
Much like the discussions of Obama’s lack of patriotism in the media, a candidate’s patriotism is often used to distract the American public from meaningful discussion about issues that face the country. Ask most Americans if they’re familiar with what Obama’s stance is on the issues; it’s far more likely they’ll tell you they know all about how unpatriotic he is. Bush’s entire regime is based on his cowboy patriotism. Rather than accept questioning and criticism of his presidency, he urges Americans to wave the flag blindly, and labels his critics as unpatriotic.
2. Patriotism leads to bigotry, isolationism, and xenophobia.
All one must do is look around America to see the paranoia, bigotry, and fear spread by an increase in patriotism. As our President urged the nation to be more patriotic, we also learned not to trust anyone who wears a turban or burqa. As we waved our flags, we learned to hate anything from the Middle East (except maybe their gasoline). We even renamed French fries because of our patriotism. We’re taught early on to despise anything stemming from socialist ideology because derivatives of Marxism are unpatriotic and downright un-American.
1. Perhaps most important of all… Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin were patriots of the highest degree.
I really have nothing more to add to this. Hitler’s propoganda machine was one of the best in the history of the world, and it was eerily similar to Bush’s ‘wave the flag’ mentality. Think about it.
Conclusion: America Doesn’t Need a Patriot
America does not need a patriot in the White House. We’ve seen in George W. Bush what patriotism gets you: a leader with blinders on, who thinks his nation has some moral authority over the rest of the world. America needs a leader with the ability to question and critique the policies of our nation, who can bring together the right minds to guide our nation, and who can look at what others in the world do better than us and learn. The last thing we need is someone who already thinks we’re better at everything. Now, whether Barack Obama is the man that can do that is up for debate. But that is what the debate should be.
However, if we are going to be so concerned with the patriotism of our leaders, I’d like to recommend a new symbol of nationalism for our politicians to wear in place of the American flag lapel pins…
How’s this for patriotic, Faux News?