Paths to patriotism
July 3, 2002 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Paths to patriotism "Among these young Americans, children of unprecedented peace and prosperity, the change is something unrelated to festivals and fireworks. After years of being left to themselves to navigate through video games and parental divorce, political correctness and personal computers, they are now confronted with images and emotions they have never seen or felt. Sept. 11 might not have turned them into patriots in the mold of those who stormed the beaches at Normandy, but it is stirring unfamiliar – and as yet unresolved – feelings of conflict, as many young adults struggle to reconsider America and their place in it."
posted by owillis (16 comments total)
It's interesting that the article blames the indifference of the 20-somethings on the social attitudes of "criticizing America" in the guise of McDonald's adverse effect on the rain forest.

How about apparent government complicity in the Enron issue? Refusal to discuss and reveal what happened in meetings between Cheney and Enron in planning the energy policy? Maybe even our military blocking press access during the entire Afghanistan war.

The term patriotism really sounds divisive to me. Some sort of blind allegiance and inability to discern and acknowledge areas for improvement.
posted by Red58 at 11:39 AM on July 3, 2002

Red58, that's not what patriotism means to me, and according to, one definition is: "Love of country; devotion to the welfare of one's country; the virtues and actions of a patriot; the passion which inspires one to serve one's country." I like that definition, and agree with it. I also agree with some who argue that even (or especially) when they disagree with a particular American policy, that in itself can be an act of patriotism. I definitely do not think that patriotism connotes "blind allegiance."

More to the point of the article, I, too, have found myself more "patriotic" after September 11. I don't own an American flag, so I don't have one waiving in front of my house or decaled on my car (nor would I if I owned one). But for the first time in my lifetime, I can understand the thought of "serving my country," and can support armed conflict. It's not my grandfather's notion of patriotism, but I think it's patriotism nonetheless. I love my country, and I'm devoted to its welfare. So sue me.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:52 AM on July 3, 2002

Patriotism should be a positive attitude about one's country based upon his relationship to it and its accomplishments, ideals, and values, not some nebulous, squishy feeling that one pats himself on the back for and uses to justify his xenophobia.
posted by rushmc at 12:01 PM on July 3, 2002

It's interesting, because since September 11th, I've been less patriotic. It seems to me that this country is going to hell, and rather quickly. I've lost almost all faith in the government. Between Enron, and the White House's refusal to admit they had any connection, to the new laws that the Bush White House is attempting to pass (That office of Homeland Security is a scary, scary thing), I've had enough.

I think I'm patriotic in the sense that I want what's best for the country, but I just don't think we've achieved that yet. I think you can distrust the government, and have qualms with some decisions that are being made, and still be patriotic. You can still love America, but still disagree with what is happening to it, and with those who run it.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:09 PM on July 3, 2002

In general I agree with rushmc, but I don't even think patriotism should necessarily always be a positive attitude; it's hard to be positive about a lot of the things our government has done in our names. As someone or other famous once said, "My country, right or wrong; if right, to keep her right; if wrong, to set her right." Civil protest can be a form of patriotism. Blind faith in an administration's policies could be seen as treason, if the administration is working against the ideals and welfare of the country. (No, I'm not accusing anyone of treason.)

I'm glad to see that Our Nation's Youth aren't a bunch of flag-waving lemmings.
posted by RylandDotNet at 12:12 PM on July 3, 2002

Any reason for patriotism (by pardonyou?'s definition) I had was severely impaired by another traumatic recent event on 12/12/2000, the day democracy died.
Nothing left to defend, nothing left to be proud of. A clear violation of the founding principles upon which our country was founded. The rest is crumbling easily now that the foundation of democracy has been removed.

I still believe in the principles that our flag is supposed to represent and there's no way I'm gonna let trash like Cheney and Asscroft bully me into shutting up based upon some false "patriotism." Pardon my language but those self serving jingoists can kiss my ass and I see no problem with our kids attitudes today.
posted by nofundy at 12:43 PM on July 3, 2002

In general I agree with rushmc, but...

No "but" necessary. I agree with you completely. What I meant by a "positive attitude" is similar to what you address in your "right or wrong" characterization. It is hard to celebrate a relationship based upon negative factors, and ultimately, patriotism is a celebration. The responsibility to be vigilant and correct transgressions or strayings from the course I would file under the burden of citizenship.
posted by rushmc at 12:47 PM on July 3, 2002

The government of the United States is ostensibly by and for its People. To be a patriot is not to stand unquestioningly by the nation's government, but to hold sacred the lives, liberty, rights and well-being of the nation's People even if an imperfect government fails to do so.

One can be patriotic without jingoism, protectionism, xenophobia, bigotry, greed, or blind faith. That there are those who don't agree is an awful shame, but it is my right and privilege to think them wrong.
posted by majick at 12:58 PM on July 3, 2002

One can be patriotic without jingoism, protectionism, xenophobia, bigotry, greed, or blind faith.

Aye, but it's damned hard to market to them.
posted by rushmc at 1:12 PM on July 3, 2002

It depends on who gets to define patriotism.

If patriotism is defined by a whole-hearted support for the democratic process, wanting what is best for our country and most consistent with its basic values of justice, truth, and honor, and a demand that the U.S. contiue the democratic revolution that started 200 years ago, then certainly I'm a patriot.

If patriotism is defined by an empty-headed support of war, unquestioning flag-waving in support of political and military actions that bring shame to our country, enshrining symbols such as the pledge of allegance and the flag rather at the expense of ideals and principles, and converting the state into a pulpit for a religious cult, then I'm an anti-American traitor.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:23 PM on July 3, 2002

In the vein of Aldous Huxley's "Politics and the English Language" patriotism seems to be more of how Kirk described it. The definition can change according to which politician is using it to berate the actions of an opponent.

Of course, I prefer Kirk's first definition, as most of us do, it sounds like. But the article in question was calling youth unpatriotic because they had "un-American" criticisms as well as being uninterested in serving in the military or voting.

I know that people are accused of being unpatriotic if they express a criticism of the US. So the term has very negative connotations to me and many others - despite the fact that we prefer to live in the US and probably find ourselves verbally defending the US when we travel outside the country.
posted by Red58 at 2:16 PM on July 3, 2002

I consider myself quite patriotic, but on the same hand I cannot stand Bush/Cheney. I believe in the flag, and fully support people waving it. But I'm against "God" in the pledge of allegiance, though I believe in the other ideals it stands for. I also support military action against Al Qaeda but I was also against military action in the Gulf War.

For some reason this makes people's heads on Metafilter explode.
posted by owillis at 3:44 PM on July 3, 2002

Simpletons believe it is good to be patriots because they connect "freedom, happines, money" or anything good with a flag or a country.

Such simpletons need the feeling of having "something in common" with other people because it gives you a feeling of being supported : that's tribal support, deeply rooted in people brain because it is always good to be supported by other people.

And that is good: unfortunately they experience the worst side of tribal community , the fear of anybody that doesn't belong to the tribe, the irration belief that if somebody doesn't belong to the tribe, it's either less interesting or maybe dangerous.

So it's a fear and ignorance problem , a thousand years old battle, every day an ignorant is born and it must be educated to analyze problems rationally, given enough information to make decisions and provided with a constant supply of fresh information.

Ignorance is the thing I'm most afraid of because you can't always foresee what a violent irrational ignorant will do and when.
posted by elpapacito at 3:58 PM on July 3, 2002

it's hard to be patriotic and simultaneously rock however :) unless you're the boss... or willie nelson!
posted by kliuless at 4:24 PM on July 3, 2002

Red58...In the vein of Aldous Huxley's "Politics and the English Language

actually George Orwell. Great Essay. highly recommend anyone who hasn't read it to google a bit and do so.

and owillis, it is just your lot in life to break stereotypes. I think one of the biggest problems with the political system right now is its false classifications...lumping people into rigid definitions. the Language of the definitions is used to keep us happily grazing away in our pastures, because how can you be or do something that doesn't fit into a category? That allows people to dismiss you out of hand...since a pro-war, anti-bush, patriot, ungodly democrat can't fit into any nice packages.
posted by th3ph17 at 6:58 PM on July 3, 2002


Kid rock is pretty good at both. Supposedly. Well, he's pretty patrotic, anyway.
posted by delmoi at 9:50 PM on July 3, 2002

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