Analysis and rationality in a nonrational world

June 25, 2006

What it means to be patriotic

Filed under: Government — analysis @ 7:50 pm

Being patriotic means asking what you can do for your country, not what your country can do for you.
It is willingly paying more taxes so veterans don’t die in poverty.
It is sacrificing your company’s profits so your country can end a war more quickly.
It is buying a flag made in America so that Americans can have jobs and businesses instead of saving a dollar by buying a flag made in China.
It means buying a smaller vehicle – a car instead of an SUV, a smaller car instead of a bigger one – because you know terrorists are funded by oil-producing nations, and because you know our soldiers are dying to keep oil fields open. (In World War II, car production stopped entirely!)
It means buying fewer luxury items made in countries that are fighting your country either overtly, by turning its people against us, or by undermining our economy (Saudi Arabia and Syria come to mind but China is always there as well). Remember, in World War II children sacrificed their toys for the war effort, and adults dealt with food and fuel rationing!

War means sacrifice. We are sacrificing by running up a Federal deficit (credit card bill) of $8 trillion and the main buyers of our debt are our enemies. Not our avowed enemies, but our more clever enemies who know that their future does not lie in a long-term powerful, wealthy, secure America. Being patriotic is being willing to make that sacrifice now, not forcing it onto America’s children and America’s future by running up an $8 trillion tab (to be $9 trillion in the not-very-distance future).

Being patriotic means asking what you can do for your country, not what your country can do for you. (Not that I have any great love for John F. Kennedy, who was by no means a great president, but you have to admire the quote.)

Being patriotic means not having chicken-hawks determine war policy, but listening to the generals who have a lifetime of military experience and training. It means not calling those who sacrificed their limbs for America in Vietnam traitors and cowards. It means not blaming the victims of tragedy for creating the tragedy, and it means not profiteering – not making immense profits from the war while leaving soldiers penniless and in hospitals.

Being patriotic does not mean hating everyone from a country if a small number of people from that country are fighting us. It does not mean rewarding your friends or running your business from the Cayman Islands to avoid paying taxes. It does not mean blindly doing everything a leader tells you to do. Those who truly love their country will defend it from enemies within, even their commanders, if they need to; they will disobey orders that are unpatriotic, that are unethical, that will harm their country. Too many Nazis “just followed orders.” Americans do not “just follow orders.” Americans are expected to be better than that.

Being patriotic does not mean treating people from other countries like animals, vermin, or worse, especially when that will only bring about an atmosphere of hatred and venom that comes back to haunt us. Being patriotic does not mean funding evil people who are fighting a common enemy – people like Osama Bin Laden, cheerfully trained in terrorism and funded by the CIA so he could fight communists.

Being patriotic is hard. Pasting a flag made in China on the back of a Honda Odyssey is easy.

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