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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Meaning of Patriotism

I saw somewhere on the net today someone comment that voting in the Wisconsin pull out the troops referendum was the most patriotic thing an American can do. Well… it is quite a stretch to call voting patriotic. In fact, the statement is idiotic. Nevertheless, it begs the question of what does it mean to be patriotic or unpatriotic.

Patriotism is defined in the dictionary as “love and devotion to ones country.” However, this does not tell the whole story. I would define patriotism as putting country before self. In this sense, patriotism does not always equate to what is right or even what is noble. For example, while I would not refer to the Confederate rebels as fighting for a noble cause, they were certainly patriots. Similarly, if a German citizen in the Third Reich attempted to undermine the war effort at home, he would not be patriotic even if his cause was moral and just.

This leads us to Iraq and patriotism. The Iraq war was not just a cause advocated and begun by President Bush. It was a cause supported by 3/4s of Congress and supported by a majority of the nation. As such, the cause is war in Iraq and victory. Any attempt to undermine the cause is unpatriotic because it puts the self ahead of the nation (which includes speaking falsely about the effort). In this case, the self is advocating an alternative policy which did not prevail when the determination was made to invade Iraq. Of course arguing for an alternative policy or to end the current cause is not unpatriotic, because it is not an attempt to undermine the cause - it is merely a debate about what to do. Thus, the policies promoted by Rep. Murtha to pull out are not necessarily unpatriotic. However, Rep Murtha is unpatriotic in his use of false statements used to promote his policy.