liberals and patriotism tagged posts

A Liberal’s July 4th Love Letter to America

All right, you great, big, bawdy, benevolent babe—I know we’ve had our issues.

On this end: war protests, flag burnings, jeering returning soldiers, torched cities, rejection of corporations and the almighty dollar as the true symbol of the republic.

Sitting out the Star Spangled Banner, lampooning every tradition, all those clouds of pungent smoke in the park.

Peace, love and moral mayhem.

On yours: the shameful treatment of Native Americans, blacks, women and gays, ill-advised invasions, coddling dictators, busting the unions and their working people, and at all costs making the world safe for the military-industrial complex.

I had a hard time for the longest time sidling up to you and your flag, given some of the things done under its banner and the dubious company it sometimes kept.

Now: I don’t want to suggest that all is forgotten...

Read More

Liberals and the Problem of Patriotism

Grounded as I am in coming-of-age during the tumult of the 1960s and ’70s, I tend to have a problematic relationship with patriotism and all its accoutrements—the flag, the pledge, the star-spangles, the moist-eyed emotion and breast-beating triumphalism.

In my college years, I learned to cast a skeptical eye on government pronouncements and white-washed histories. I discovered the relevance of sociology (Hmm…sociology, now there’s a thought!), psychology (Oh, what a neurotic-at-best mess we are!), and the role of basic brutality and genocide—there is simply no other way to say it—in subduing the American frontier. All under the cloak of “manifest destiny,” a handy and high-falutin’ term for “God wants us to own all this, so let’s go wipe out another Indian tribe.”

The revisionist look at American history taking place then was only exacerbated by the travesty of Vietnam, when the mode...

Read More