Sunday, October 07, 2007

"My" Country 'Tis of Me

A reader sends a link to a review of Todd Gitlin's collection of essays entitled "Intellectuals and the Flag" at the Claremont Institute. Todd Gitlin, described as a "figure in the American Left since his Vietnam-era days in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)" depicts a movement that has journeyed into a "spiritual wasteland" for which it has only itself to blame.

He provides an honest account of the reasons for his generation's disenchantment with patriotism—an account that helps explain why, even now, the term almost never escapes the lips even of mainstream liberal Democrats without being prefaced by the indignant words "impugning" and "my." For Gitlin's generation, the "generation for whom ‘the war' meant Vietnam and perhaps always will," it could be said that the "most powerful public emotion in our lives was rejecting patriotism." Patriotism became viewed as, at best, a pretext, and at worst, an abandonment of thought itself. It became of interest only in so far as it entered into calculations of political advantage. Far from being a sentiment that one might feel with genuine warmth and intelligent affection, it was merely a talisman, which, if used at all, served chiefly to neutralize its usefulness as a weapon in the hands of others, by making it into a strictly personal preference that others were forbidden to question: "my" patriotism.



Read the whole thing. It echoes some of the themes I wrote about in "Easy to be Hard; Easy to be Cold". The key linkage flows from the concept of "my" patriotism. It's a kind of designer love for "one's" country which is specific only that conception. The review describes "my" patriotism as:

the habitual resort to the ideal of dissent "against the nation for the nation" [which] can easily become indistinguishable in practice from yet another manifestation of the Great Refusal, in which the second "nation" is a purely imaginary one to be "achieved"-and the "troops" one "supports" are entirely distinct from the actual causes for which they are risking their lives, and such "support" shows no respect for the series of conscious choices that made them into "troops" rather than civilians.

The ultimate irony of this process is that the Left's countercultural definition of patriotism became instead one of perpetual alienation. Community, rather than becoming achievable, became impossible. The movement that was supposed to exalt the group rather than selfish individualism managed to outsmart itself. The result was a path that didn't lead to the Age of Aquarius but to the condition of neurosis.

51 Comments:

Blogger wretchard said...

My guess is that part of the problem with embracing traditional patriotism is pure visceral fear. I can understand the fear that comes from realizing what you might be compelled to sacrifice for the group; that's natural. But I can't sympathize with the denial that this fear is part of the attraction to the "my" type of patriotism. That's dishonest.

The ability to self-define the extent of your own responsibility to the group; the moral license to "opt out" anytime one pleases are really nice things to have because they basically give one the right to bug out whenever one pleases.

Well even soldiers bug out under the stress of combat. And every man has a breaking point. But there's a difference between striking out and refusing to go to bat.

The nice thing about the precepts of "my" patriotism is that when the going gets tough you can always follow your own "flag" to the rear or over even to the enemy camp. And why not? A white flag is only a white flag if you insist on seeing it that way. Could stand for anything, man.

There should be no minimizing the fear that comes with any real confrontation. With any real commitment. But the most dishonest way to manage terror and anxiety is is to absolve oneself of responsibility entirely; by defining it away and dignifying avoidance with the name "courage". That were low indeed.

10/07/2007 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

Regarding your first comment, Wretchard: dignifying avoidance with the word "courage." Yes, also know as "punkish" when I was growing up.

As to your earlier post, a question about your final two sentences:

"Unless a man can know home and recognize family, he can never be your brother. A person who loves only his vision of the future can only love himself."

Is that original? It really grabs the imagination.

10/07/2007 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

It is original so far as I know.

10/07/2007 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Dave Horowitz describes many of the New Left Lies that he once shared with Gitlin, and Gitlins refusal ever to admit, much less assert, that lies they are indeed.
A reflection of character, but also probably still needs some of them to maintain his present position.
Wish I had the Book handy.
---

Iraq insurgency: Fighting on the beaches

Damien McElroy spent a week in the heart of the insurgency in Anbar province in Iraq. In the first of seven exclusive reports he describes the daily battle to drive out al-Qa'eda.

US Marines in Iraq's Anbar province have taken the battle against al-Qa'eda to the unlikely setting of a beachside resort in the desert.

10/07/2007 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger RKV said...

"disenchantment with patriotism." I wouldn't put it so nicely. At best its a realization that liberalism means that you are not responsible for your own actions, so saving your own skin is a natural, expected and acceptable response. At worst, Gramscian damage has destroyed your soul.

10/07/2007 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

We all regard ourselves as free, educated, humane men, or even as Christians, and yet we are all in such a position that were Wilhelm tomorrow to take offence against Alexander, or Mr. N. to write a lively article on the Eastern Question, or Prince So-and-so to plunder some Bulgarians or Serbians, or some queen or empress to be put out by something or other, all we educated humane Christians must go and kill people of whom we have no knowledge, and toward whom we areas amicably disposed as to the rest of the world.

Lev Nikolajevic Tolstoy, On Patriotism (1894)

10/07/2007 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger tony8489 said...

as a member of "generation X" I only feel contempt toward the intellectual left or whatever you want to call them. I remember listening to carter's malaise speech, and wondering why the leader of our country was such a downer. When I was in high school and college, Reagan made us proud to be Americans again. now, these people are in power: they sit on school boards and city councils and make policy. do kids even sing patriotic songs anymore in school? probably not. the powers that be would compare that to nazi germany I bet

10/07/2007 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"The ultimate irony of this process is that the Left's countercultural definition of patriotism became instead one of perpetual alienation. Community, rather than becoming achievable, became impossible. The movement that was supposed to exalt the group rather than selfish individualism managed to outsmart itself.
The result was a path that didn't lead to the Age of Aquarius but to the condition of neurosis.
"
---
And contributes greatly to the fragmentation of society as a whole, as they perpetuate lies about what this country is, from their many positions in Education, Government, and the Media.
---
Every time I think about it, I smile ruefully and shake my head to remember vividly that my pet peeve in 1970 when I returned to college and the liberal Ghetto of Islla Vista, were the outspoken environmental preachers, just back from a summer of jetting about to Europe, India, or Afghanistan.
Little did I know that this Church of Hypocrisy would by now have established itself so deeply in our culture, education, and government.
Then, such individuals were a small minority, can't say that now, unfortunately.

10/07/2007 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

No problem there, move right along!
---
Mattel apologizes to China over recalls - Consumer News - MSNBC.com

US-based toy giant Mattel Inc. issued an extraordinary apology to China on Friday over the recall of Chinese-made toys...

10/07/2007 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger R said...

This is so old..."my patriotism" is just a simple argument put out front so that others don't see "my narcissism" working to safeguard "my ass" from the fear that lurks just outside my safe zone.

One can make the "argument" either simple and direct, or complex and indirect. It always come home to the self.

"Love your country or leave it" was the other side's chant back when.

We could set up in all the major airports at the screening gates a special bucket marked "drop your flag pins into this" so that after a while older veterans could gather up these discarded pins and take them to our VA hospitals for redistribution for those who feel a sense of...what?

Patriotism and pride.

10/07/2007 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger D. B. Light said...

I date the spread of this Leftist sentiment into the broader generational culture from RFK's famous declaration: "I dream of things that never were and say, 'Why not?'." That is a seductive and dangerous position to take, as was recognized by the author of those words, George Bernard Shaw. In his play "Back to Methuselah" Shaw put them in the mouth of the Serpent tempting Eve into sin.

You correctly identify the two sources of corruption that lie at the heart of Kennedy's call to arms -- alienation from the world in which we all must live, and frustration that results from the unattainability of things devoutly desired. A third consequence is the extinction of joy. As our finest poet, Jack Gilbert, notes in his "Brief for the Defense" "To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil" by which he means that contemplating only the evil that men do blinds us to the joy and wonder of existence.

10/07/2007 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

d.b. light, I didn't know that line was generated, originally, in such a context [Serpent tempting Eve into sin] and find it incredibly curious that Kennedy would thus use it.

I'm genuinely surprised. This information, presumably true, completely changes my receptivity to the line.

Seductive and dangerous, indeed.

10/07/2007 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Tony8589: now, these people are in power: they sit on school boards and city councils and make policy. do kids even sing patriotic songs anymore in school? probably not. the powers that be would compare that to nazi germany I bet

Here's the secret of representative democracies, Tony: The powers that be are selected by we the people.

10/07/2007 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger pst314 said...

"'Love your country or leave it' was the other side's chant back when"

A perfectly reasonable response to people who idoloized Lenin and Mao and Castro and Che, and demonized America.

10/07/2007 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

Project Gutenberg is a wonderful thing.

Back to Methuselah

THE SERPENT. Why not be born again and again as I am, new and beautiful every time?

Very interesting, d.b. light, very interesting.

10/07/2007 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The context is:

THE SERPENT. Death is not an unhappy thing when you have learnt how to conquer it.

EVE. How can I conquer it?

THE SERPENT. By another thing, called birth.

EVE. What? [_Trying to pronounce it_] B-birth?

THE SERPENT. Yes, birth.

EVE. What is birth?

THE SERPENT. The serpent never dies. Some day you shall see me come out of this beautiful skin, a new snake with a new and lovelier skin. That is birth.

EVE. I have seen that. It is wonderful.

THE SERPENT. If I can do that, what can I not do? I tell you I am very subtle. When you and Adam talk, I hear you say 'Why?' Always 'Why?' You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?' I made the word dead to describe my old skin that I cast when I am renewed. I call that renewal being born.

EVE. Born is a beautiful word. ...

THE SERPENT. Listen. I will tell you a great secret. I am very subtle; and I have thought and thought and thought. And I am very wilful, and must have what I want; and I have willed and willed and willed. And I have eaten strange things: stones and apples that you are afraid to eat.


The serpent is subtle indeed. It appeals to the "courage" to attempt the forbidden when it is really appealing to Eve's fear. And even then it was speaking not of Eve's renewal, but the renwal of itself. But why do we speak of serpents? We are told they don't exist in this world without meaning, without Heaven or Hell. Without anything to fear. And yet it is fear, is it not, which the drives the quiet desperation, this flight into the New, which we know, even before we get there, to be something really, preternaturally Old.

10/07/2007 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

wretchard:

I do not see why it is so necessary to express patriotism in a traditional manner when it can be expressed in a revolutionary manner. For example, I am far fonder of the Gadsden Flag than the Stars and Stripes.

The Gadsden Flag expresses how I feel about America. The snake, the yellow background, and the “DON’T TREAD ON ME” statement express revolutionary sentiments against tyranny. Moreover, ever since the Exodus (remember Moses?), the snake has been an age-old symbol of resistance against and contempt toward oriental despotism.

Must it be necessary to express one’s patriotism in a conformist manner? Is a man who prefers America the Beautiful over The Star Spangled Banner any less patriotic? Is a man who would prefer the Pledge of Allegiance were written differently any less patriotic? If a man resolutely refuses to regard any flag as sacred and opposes any establishment of a state religion declaring the flag as sacred, is that man any less patriotic than the conformist patriot? Liberty is the freedom to express one’s patriotism differently.

I think much of the Left is, sadly, downright scared of expressing patriotism differently. Instead, patriotism gets presented as a false choice between jingoism and rejecting America, or perhaps jingoism and apathy. I say it’s possible to be patriotic and call for an end to Prohibition of marijuana. I may be in a minority.

It is one thing to ask sacrifice from people. It is entirely another to demand that people give up being who they are to conform to a hive mentality, whether of the Left or the Right. It is hard to feel a sense of belonging when one is in danger of getting fragged.

The “my way or the highway” attitude that pervades America's political discourse is not conducive to promoting patriotism. For example, by modern Leftist standards, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine were not patriots at all, but chickenhawks, chickenhawks, all of them chickenhawks. In contrast, Benedict Arnold was no chickenhawk at all, merely a traitor fighting for a higher cause. The American Revolution was fought by the pen and by the sword; the chickenhawk slur denigrates the memory of those who founded the United States of America.

10/07/2007 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

This business dates to the poisonous outworking of secret blood libel inside the American Jewish community that communists inflicted through American Jews on America's Christian conservatives during the McCarthy period.

10/07/2007 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The immediate postwar generation must have been acutely aware of two things: 1) how much the previous generation had sacrificed; and 2) how much they had. While they wanted to keep what they had the knowledge of how much might cost to keep it created deep misgivings. Was there no way they might keep what they had without paying for it?

By some quirk of association, the memory of the choice offered in Garden may have sprung unbidden to mind to the lyricists of the day. The Baby Boomers, caught between the desire to enjoy vigor of their youth and the sobering prospect of "bearing any burden" naturally wondered whether there wasn't some other deal that could be cut. If they could find their way back, maybe the whole thing could be renegotiated.

Well, I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, ’Tell where are you going?'
This he told me

Said, I'm going down to Yasgur's Farm,
Gonna join in a rock and roll band.
Got to get back to the land and set my soul free.

We are stardust, we are golden,
We are caught in the Devil's bargain,
And we got to get ourselves back to the Garden.


Maybe it was a conscious choice on some level after all. What did the Serpent say? "You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?'"

There's always a catch somewhere.

10/07/2007 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"RFK's famous declaration: "I dream of things that never were and say, 'Why not?'."
---
Didn't Alfred E. Neuman
coin that phrase before RFK?
Certainly, one cannot credit any of the Kennedy boys with the even more famous:
"What, Me Worry?"

10/07/2007 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Don't question why she needs to be so free
She'll tell you it's the only way to be
She just can can't be chained
To a life where nothing's gained
And nothing's lost at such a cost

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you
When you change with every new day
Still I'm gonna miss you

There's no time to loose I heard her say
Cash your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams and you
will loose your mind ain't life unkind
"

10/07/2007 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Read Gitlin's book,"The Sixties" for a glimpse into the mindset of the movement heavies of the day. What I got from it was a fascinating picture of preening arrogance and disdain for the land of their birth. It should be read alongside Horowitz and Collier's"Second Thoughts" and "Destructive Generation".

10/07/2007 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil"
---
I lived for a time in a more or less communal setting:
We observed early-on that life had devolved into a contest to prove who was the most aggrieved and therefore entitled to...
(I honestly can't remember what the purported payoff was supposed to be!)

10/07/2007 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Radical Son" is the Horowitz book I was refering to:
Did a heck of a job of illuminating the Dark, Violent New Leftist groups, and all the public lies portraying them as heroic figures.
...and the Hell Dave's life turned into as his reward for sleeping with dogs.

10/07/2007 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

1 Kings 19 1-7

1 ¶ And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

10/07/2007 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Ferris said...

The problem with carrying over the radical Left's intentions from the Vietnam era over to the present is that they depended on forwarding the interests of an empire that has since collapsed.

Of course the Left was not "patriotic" during the Vietnam war. To them, Vietnam was only a skirmish - the primary objective was to overthrow the democratic capitalist government in the US and replace it with a collectivist, Bolshevik one. Their allegiance was not to the United States, a country for which they held only the lowest contempt for.

THere was some lingering sense of this at their first big protest event after the WTC attacks, in late September of 2001. It has proved to be a less-than-popular response, and has caused schisms in ANSWER, so that it is underplayed these days - thus, Leftists no longer proudly proclaim their lack of patriotism, instead vilifying anyone who would suggest such a thing as "agents of the fascist Right" or the like.

Nowadays the mainstream Left is little more than a shell for tyrants, drug traffickers and terrorists. What any of them have to do with "liberal" values escapes me. To be quite frank, very few self-proclaimed "liberals" are anything of the sort - one is far more likely to find real liberal views championed, such as freedom of speech or the right to suffrage, expoused by Republicans and their supporters. It is from Leftists that one is most likely to hear the view that "Arabs are not ready for democracy" or kind words expressed for Ba'athist regimes - hardly views that any objective person might consider "liberal".

10/07/2007 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger fwallace said...

Wretchard -- with all due respect I think you miss the one "big" thing that happened during the Cold War that led to the Left's unpatriotic mode now.

That was MAD. Mutual Assured Destruction. Look at any film, from say "La Dolce Vita" to Dr. Strangelove to On the Beach to Seven Days in May.

La Dolce Vita is probably the strongest in clearly stating the effect of MAD on the Left.

The protagonist, Marcello Mastroianni, is at a party. The host is an educated man, who read a poem about nuclear with music then silence coming from a record. The guests are appalled at the poem, because it is likely in their opinion to be true. Later, Mastroianni learns his host has shot his two adored daughters (pre-teens), his wife, and himself, leaving a note that he did it to spare them "the silence."

Knowing what we know now, that is an act of despicable depths of depravity. But in the film it is presented as the logical act of a man seeing total erasure of (human) life on the planet as inevitable.

Even back when the film was made, in IIRC 1960, the Left saw MAD as proof that there was no point at all in patriotism, love of country, or anything at all. Since it would all end in total destruction of the human race.

I will certainly give the Left credit for at least acting as the brake on the side of the West in acting aggressively during the height of MAD. Their role was not inconsequential.

But ... the Left overestimated the permanency of the Cold War, and neglected for more than 15 years what would be done afterwards. The very attributes that in some ways were "positive" ... i.e. the idea that blowing up America and the Soviet Union and Europe, Japan, and China in nuclear rubble for ideological/national/patriotic reasons was stupid to insane, which is as in the film La Dolce Vita, believing in nothing but mindless hedonism (and anti-everything in the West) is a complete failure today.

Today we are faced with the task not of MAD, and the total destruction of humanity*, but rather hydra-headed dangers of losing city after city until a massive counter-attack wipes out most Muslims (your third Conjecture).

Now we NEED patriotism to enable national efforts and ward off what will amount to the killing of around a billion people or so for sheer survival.

Back during the Cold War, you might argue that unpatriotic beliefs of the Left might have held back folks like LeMay and so on who were dangerous if left unsupervised.

*It's clear that the Left simply penciled in Hiroshima as being replicated on the whole face of the planet. It's likely that a "goodly" portion of both the US and Russia (not to mention Europe, Japan, and China) would have survived. But we would still be measuring each nation's/region's death tolls in the hundreds of millions and total horror.

The men and women of the Left mostly did not start off as their descendants are today. They looked at the horrors of WWI trench warfare, WWII bombings and the Holocaust, SS, Japanese Militarism atrocities, and MAD and thought of ways to stop things from happening. Ways that were "morally pure" and would "work" because their old ways had not worked obviously. What they came up with was destruction of the nation-state and replacement with ... the EU or UN.

Neither organization will EVER launch a war of aggression. But it won't stop say bin Laden from taking over Pakistan, using it's nuclear arsenal to conduct terror-nuke bombings of American cities killing tens of millions and guaranteeing a war of survival between Muslims and Americans.

10/07/2007 11:47:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

How sad to try to take a failing political viewpoint and to tie it to the concept of patriotism to make it unimpeachable. Despite the barely coherent ramblings of the LSD-impaired mind of that sad old hippie loser Gitlin, the truth is that last refuge of a politically defunct position is patriotism.

Furthermore we are to believe that the reason certain people are not patriotic is that they were too afraid to serve in the military. Oh really? Let’s put this to the test. Let’s do a little thought experiment, I will put two names net to each other and let’s try to see who is more patriotic. If the premise is that cowards who refuse to serve in the military are not patriotic then surely we will see this from this list

Who is more patriotic?

Dick Cheney or John Kerry?
Rush Limbaugh or Wesley Clark?
Pat Buchanan or Ted Kennedy?
Mitch McConnell or James Webb?
Rudy Giuliani or Al Gore?
John Boehner or Richard Gephart?
Trent Lott or Jack Murtha?
Jonah Goldberg or Markos Moulitsas Zúniga
Jerry Falwell or Charles Rangel?
Mitt Romney or John McCain?
Bill Frist or John Daschle?
Fred Thompson or Chuck Hagel?
Karl Rove or George McGovern?
Joe Lieberman, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Abrams, Richard Perle, Newt Gingrish, Jeb Bush, Doug Feith or Jimmy Carter?

Now is that cowardly glance in the mirror, carefully avoiding ones own eyes, that craven feeling in the gut, the shaking of the knees as the military recruiter passes, is that really a barrier to being considered patriotic?

Or is it an obligation? A condition sine qua non ?

10/07/2007 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

salad bar patriotism- take what you want.

10/08/2007 12:24:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

kevin,

That's kind of a selective list you have there. If you look at a given pool -- the US Senate for example (http://grunt.space.swri.edu/senatevet.htm), the list of veterans is dead even on each side.

But if you look longitudinally, an interesting trend emerges. Veterans Against the War in Iraq, of all groups, notices that "For the first time, there were fewer vets in Congress than in society as a whole...."

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the percentage of veterans in Congress was 10 percent to 15 percent higher than among the same age group of men, generally, he said. But that changed with the 1994 election.

"For the first time, there were fewer vets in Congress than in society as a whole,'' he said. Added his colleague, Ole Holsti, "These days, not serving in the military is not a barrier to serving in politics.''

Analysts cite several reasons for the change. The Vietnam War tarnished the idea that serving in the military was a civic duty. Many college students found ways to avoid it. With the creation of the all-volunteer military in 1973, service became more of a career goal than a widely shared temporary responsibility. As the military shrank, fewer people were needed to serve.

Every post-World War II president until 1993 wore a uniform. But when Bill Clinton was elected after he actively avoided military service during Vietnam, the precedent was broken.

Among the nine Democrats seeking to challenge President Bush -- a Texas Air National Guard veteran - in 2004, only Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts fought in Vietnam and Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri served in the Missouri Air National Guard.

The others -- Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina, Bob Graham of Florida and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut; former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean; Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio; former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois; and civil rights activist Al Sharpton -- did not serve.


The decline in the number of veterans due to the lack of wars is probably a good thing. But is there something to the observation that "The Vietnam War tarnished the idea that serving in the military was a civic duty. Many college students found ways to avoid it. With the creation of the all-volunteer military in 1973, service became more of a career goal than a widely shared temporary responsibility?"

This doesn't go to the heart of the argument but it is somewhere in the torso are at least on the subject of whether patriotism is in decline -- or has been redefined.

10/08/2007 01:17:00 AM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

The thing about morality is that the obligation to the Other is unlimited ; and the left is mostly concerned with limiting personal obligation, by making everything a responsibility of government rather than, potentially one day, themselves.

That turns up in everything.

10/08/2007 02:56:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

wretchard,

The point of the list was not to imply that one political party is more patriotic or has more service in the military. The point was to refute the notion that military service has anyhting to do with the asignment of the label of "patriotic". Otherwise how could a drug addict womanizer like Rush Limbaugh be considered more patriotic than Wesley Clark who served our nation in uniform for thirty years?

It does not seem to make sense to try to make the point that patriotism has declined in the US because of Vietnam or a lack of wars when it is so clear that many people only use the criteria of ideoligical purity in deciding who is patriotic and who is not. Again how can the whole slew of dual citizen neo-cons who are too busy renewing their Israeli passports to have served in the military be considered more patriotic than Jimmy Carter?

In the end though we probably agree. Patriotism in the American sense does indeed have little to do with service in the military. It has everything to do with accepting the ideas of our founding fathers and empowering our republic of the people, by the people, for the people.

10/08/2007 03:01:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

kevin:

Again how can the whole slew of dual citizen neo-cons who are too busy renewing their Israeli passports to have served in the military be considered more patriotic than Jimmy Carter?

Good lord, man, you do give yourself away here, don't you?

10/08/2007 04:54:00 AM  
Blogger R said...

My dear Kevin; "empowering our republic of the people" means just what?

Empower is one of those wonderful concepts given to one's peeps while others go out and fight for your freedom to stand behind safely and verbalize.

Fight or flight. Or empower. Spin me around some more; soon I will be dizzy with wonder at how "you people" survive in a world where danger lurks.

Yea, others do the dying for you, right? They use such notions as "patriotism" to go into the valley of death.

Have another Corona, my man! Rest assured your blood will never be spilled defending that which you claim to believe.

Narcissists do have to stick together, right? Empowered to the bitter end!

It's never about the Other, it is always about the Me.

10/08/2007 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I believe the Whole Whirreled Will be Powered by Perpetual Empowerment.
PBUPE

10/08/2007 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Kevin,

Perhaps Wolf Pangloss can familiarize you with concept of Fifth Generation Warfare, Conspiracy and Shadow Governments. And Joe Lieberman, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Abrams, Richard Perle, Newt Gingrish, Jeb Bush, Doug Feith, certainly fit into the stew of dual citizen neo-cons who are too busy renewing their Israeli passports.

But how is conceding concessions to the Jihadi enemy, concessions like Iraq, like Iran, like Gaza, like Lebanon, like Sudan, like Afghanistan, like Pakistan, like Israel, like Europe, like the US, like dar al Islam, how is that to be considered patriotic?

10/08/2007 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

For that, we need the Power of Perpetual Enlightenment.
Consult an expert in Brussels.

10/08/2007 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Kevin,
Describing Gitlin as "an lsd impaired loser" is factually incorrect.I've never read or seen anything implying he was just your garden variety burnout like some of that era. In actuality,New Left figures like Gitlin, Tom Hayden, Mark Rudd, Bernadine Dorhn, Billy Ayers and others continue to help erode the fabric of our nation by indoctrinating a new generation of neo- Marxist students. Their ideas have largely been repudiated by reality,but still have a fertile field in young impressionable college students.

10/08/2007 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Exactly,
As far as I know, Angela Davis is not chemically impaired.
Simply an effective communist indoctrinator, one-time homicidal conspirator, gainfully employed, still, at the University of California.
Power to the People!

10/08/2007 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Not Quite as Hot as she once was.
...like the rest of us.
Damn!

10/08/2007 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Talk about empowerment...
I checked out in San Rafael at the Judge's assasination:
Angela's been Keepin on,
Keepin on:
---
"Davis's main association, however, was her membership in the Communist Party USA. She first achieved nationwide notoriety when she was linked to the murder of Judge Harold Haley during an attempted Black Panther prison break; she fled underground, and was the subject of an intense manhunt. She was eventually captured, arrested, tried, and eventually acquitted in one of the most famous trials in recent U.S. history. She is currently Professor of History of Consciousness at the University of California and Presidential Chair at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She works for racial and gender equality and for prison abolition. Davis is a founder of the anti-prison grassroots organization Critical Resistance.
"

10/08/2007 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Empower the Prison Abolitionists!

10/08/2007 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Assignment:
Compare and contrast the History of Conciousness, as portrayed by a Creationist, and an Evolutionist.
MeMe Fakirs like Dawkins not acceptable.

10/08/2007 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Kevin:

So, was Thomas Jefferson a warmongering chickenhawk or not?

The label "patriot" can be claimed by anyone, even Noam Chomsky and Ann Coulter. But the reality of patriotism is not as easy to communicate as it is to assert.

It is possible for people who disagree with one another to be patriotic. There are many ways for a man to serve his country. If anything, there may exist within our political culture an overly worshipful veneration of military service with the presumption that patriotism cannot be expressed in any other manner.

Are we to doubt the patriotism of Thomas Jefferson merely because he didn't pick up a rifle to defend the revolution? Are we to doubt the patriotism of John Adams?

I don't agree with Rush Limbaugh's politics and I certainly disagree with his advocacy of torture. Yet, he is probably a patriot. Likewise, I don't question the patriotism of John Kerry, a patriot with very bad judgment in foreign policy, but a patriot nonetheless.

Some people serve in the military while committing treason. John Walker spied for the Soviet Union. And there are others who serve in the military without an ounce of patriotism in their bodies; they go through the motions of service and that's all they do. They aren't the vast majority, but dead wood does exist.

By the way, do you really think it was patriotic to start a war against Russia when Russian troops took over Pristina Airport? Was Pristina Airport really worth fighting World War Three? I think General Jackson made the better decision.

10/08/2007 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Cincinnatus said...

"But in the film it is presented as the logical act of a man seeing total erasure of (human) life on the planet as inevitable.

Even back when the film was made, in IIRC 1960, the Left saw MAD as proof that there was no point at all in patriotism, love of country, or anything at all. Since it would all end in total destruction of the human race.

I will certainly give the Left credit for at least acting as the brake on the side of the West in acting aggressively during the height of MAD."

They did then what they do today:
They recognize Free Will in the red states and the blue states, but not to the Russian/Islamist.

And so the US is always the beginning of any chain of events ... or any "cycle of violence".

The perceived problem of patriotism is thinking only through the prism of America. Americentrism is ironically a problem for the blue states more then the red states.

10/08/2007 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Bob W. said...

I emphatically agree with the notion that Patriotism, however one decides to define it, is neither guaranteed by nor proven by one's service in umiform. There are, as Belmont commenter Kevin said, people in the Uniform just marking time and drawing a paycheck. The same can be said for all professions, I would wager.

How should a patriot, one who believes in the goodness and the potential of this country, approach the military? Another good question

I would argue that a patriot should value the service of another individual to his or her country. And I would question the patriotism of those who denigrate the military, or demean military service.

One should never be afraid to cast a critical eye at all things in an open society, but my own critical eye takes with a grain of salt those who would cast aspersions at uniformed service from one corner of their mouth, while speaking of their patriotism from another.

10/08/2007 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Rattlergator,

Muslims believe in polygamy, where a man loves more than one wife. I tend to think that a man really loves one best and the other wives are there just to serve his favourite. Some Jews believe in patriotic polygamy; where a man loves more than one country. Again, I tend to thing that a man really loves one best and the other country is there just to serve his favourite. But perhaps I am wrong.

R,

It is certainly your right to consider someone like me who has not served in the military as unpatriotic, although I personally don’t agree. And I am sure you are consistent with that rule and therefore all the people on that list I posted above who served in the military you consider to be more patriotic that those who didn’t.

Matusela,

Damn those Muslims must be total rock stars. They are about to take over the United States and Europe? But that can’t be because our wealthy elite would have already started converting with Fox News leading the way. But on a more serious note every loser commentator who has read a little Bill Lind and Martin Van Creveld is trying to hit the jackpot by coming up with his the version of 5GW that will finally catch on. It really is silly and they should just stop. Btw, who exactly did hand Iraq over to the Islamists?

Allison,

Fair enough, I think you are right and my description of Gitlin was flawed.

Alexis,

I totally agree with you and that was exactly the point I was trying to make. I was not actually making the chickenhawk argument. I was only trying to disprove the notion that people actually take military service into account as criteria for patriotism. Most people take ideological purity much more seriously. And I agree that Gen. Clark dangerously overreacted to the Russian provocations at the end of Operation Allied Force.

10/08/2007 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Kevin,

You either haven’t been paying attention, which I don't believe, or you’re simply a Jihadi shill, which I believe is more likely the case.

10/09/2007 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger Benavente said...

Kevin:

The point was to refute the notion that military service has anyhting to do with the asignment of the label of "patriotic".

You're right. I can't see how anyone could consider Carter, Kerry, Murtha or Zúniga "patriotic" at all.

BTW, your anti-Semitism is cute. I'll bet it makes you feel like a real patriot when you talk the truth against those dual-citizen neocons.

10/09/2007 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger lgude said...

At 23 RFK spoke for my inner dilemma when he said in '65 that it was painful to choose between one's country and one's government. I was caught between love of country and disagreement with LBJ's policy in Vietnam. I was quite aware that I might be more motivated by fear than I wanted to admit. I thought then I was on the left, but I did not want my country to lose and was shocked by those who did or did not respect those who had the courage to serve. What has always appalled me about the hard left is that they do not seem to feel torn between country and government policy. I do recognize the nihilism of the MAD phase - I went through it too a bit younger - but by 65 was aware I felt a deep connection to my country. I got over it or maybe grew up some - maybe in part when I realized, after the fact, how near a thing the Cuban misslile crisis was and that the same RFK may have saved us from nuclear destruction by helping bis brother out maneuver Khrushchev. In the current war I have been on the other side - I support both the policy and the country.

10/11/2007 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger pst314 said...

"the Left saw MAD as proof that there was no point at all in patriotism"

And yet, if it was all about survival of the human race, then you'd think the Left would have been all over the Soviets and Chinese for their nuclear arsenals and military aggression. But no, the Left only demanded that the free West disarm. Which (once again) puts the lie to leftist claims that their motives were pacifistic.

10/13/2007 06:35:00 PM  

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