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Credo: "America Is Our Child"

| 14 Comments

Patriotism is a bad word. America is not our daddy (patria). It is our child, raised again by us each generation, our inescapable responsibility, to be praised often, corrected when necessary, loved and protected always.

14 Comments

So would that make those who cherish our country like our child libriots?

On a more serious note, I recall Armed Liberal's heartbreaking post back on his own blog:

"I know two really bad parents. One is a couple that simply refuses to control their children; they love them totally, and so, they explain, they love everything they do. Unsurprisingly, they are raising two little monsters. The other is a single mother who explains that everything bad in her life is the fault of her child, and that everything he does is wrong. Unsurprisingly, her child is depressed, withdrawn and equally badly damaged."

The follow-on was incorporated into his 2003 I Once Wrote Something About Veteran's Day... - which remains a perennial Winds of Change.NET classic. He continued:

"Iíll define patriotism as "love of country". Both the parents above (all three of them, actually) claim to Ďloveí their children. But to blindly smile and clean up when your child smashes plates on the floor is not an act of love. And blindly smiling and waving flags when your country does something wrong is not an act of patriotism.

But...there is a point where criticism, even offered in the guise of love, moves past the point of correction and to the point of destruction. Itís a subtle line, but it exists. And my friend (who is less of a friend because I can't begin to deal with her fundamentally abusive parenting) is destroying her child. And there are liberals who have adopted an uncritically critical view of America. Who believe it to have been founded in genocide and theft, made wealthy on slave labor and mercantilist expropriation, to be a destroyer of minorities, women, the environment and ultimately they argue, itself.

I'm sorry but their profession of love for America is as hollow to me as that motherís profession of love for her son. Are those things true? As facts, they are an incomplete account of this countryís history. As a worldview, they are destructive and self-consuming."

JK:

I think if these America-hating, guilt-ridden liberals didn't exist, paranoid patriots would have to invent them. As it stands right now Republicans have successfully branded themselves as the party of action and the Democrats the party of inaction. But if you don't self-correct soon, events on the ground in Iraq will define the GOP as the party of reckless action, the irresponsible parent if you will. We're already at the point where most reasonable people see through Karl Rove's talking points about sissified, America-hating liberals and are directing their ire towards the arrogant suits that put our troops on the ground with an inadequate plan for victory.

So serious all the time....

But Joe, I think you and I both agree that there's nothing wrong with the word "patriotism" in-and-of itself, no matter what the root. (After all, a grown child can -- and should -- honor and respect his parents, without being uncritical of them).

I'm not denying that "patriotism" has picked up some bad connotations with the P.C. set, but instead of re-packaging the idea and hoping no one notices, I'd rather work on convincing the honorable opposition that aversion to the idea of patriotism is misguided and unhelpful.

I think the problem with the word has its roots in the transnationalist history of the Progressive movement. If you loved your country, you couldn't be a good transnationalist. But does anyone stop to ask if that assumption is true?

I mean, I love my building. Great place to live. The neighborhood could use some work, but I love it too. I love Brooklyn. I have serious reservations about NYC as a whole, but on the whole I wouldn't live anywhere else. I think it's pretty obvious I love my country, but I also love the greater enterprise that is the Enlightenment West.

(Lyle Lovett's "I Love Everybody" just got moved onto my iPod.)

Anyway, I think patriotism versus internationalism is a false dichotomy, and one that the Euston Manifesto goes some way towards unmasking. There will be tensions as loyalties to different scales come into conflict; sometimes what's feels good for my Country in the short term won't be what's best for the Enlightenment West. ("Freedome Fries" anyone?) But rational people and rational societies can navigate those tensions.

Or at least I hope so.

Nate, we don't have to invent them. They invent themselves, and then put themselves on highly public display. In the blogosphere and elsewhere.

And their issues go far, far deeper than "I Hate Bush" - that's just a symptom. This Rasmussen survey explains that the problem is a lot deeper - and in fact, corresponds with Armed Liberal's analysis.

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, bub...

One might also recommend this piece by Michael Lopez-Calderon on HamraBlues, written by someone who was part of the radical Left for almost 20 years. What changed him?

"...nothing prepared me for the devastation of nearly all of my political and philosophical underpinnings like the horrifying dust and soot-filled crash of the World Trade Center and the equally horrific apologias proffered by the Left for this most despicable act."

And then he goes on with example after example, quuote after quote. And he's not even remotely close to being exhaustive, based on my recollections.

Katha Pollitt, also from The Nation, reacted to her daughterís suggestion that they should fly the American flag: "Definitely not, I say: The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war..."

Now, which parent does that sound like?

And from today, Nina Burleigh in Salon:
I cringed as my young son recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But who was I to question his innocent trust in a nation I long ago lost faith in?

She goes on to talk about how she and her husband have created a counter-indoctrination program for their son:

When we later learned that the cheery kindergarten teacher belonged to one of the most conservative evangelical churches in the community, we were careful not to challenge anyone or to express any opinion about politics or religion, out of fear our son would be singled out. Instead, to counteract any God-and-country indoctrination he received in school, we began our own informal in-home instruction about Bush, Iraq and Washington over the evening news.

Scary, those evangelicals....

JK: The issue of the flag is separate. I have nothing against the flag or the bible, but both are serially abused by Republican politicians, and their treatment of these things does cheapen them, to the point where the American flag can be seen as a symbol of jingoism. I don't see it that way, but I don't get misty-eyed either. It's a piece of fabric in the end.

My model of patriotism is England. Brits don't need to win flag pins on lapels or display Union Jack on their front lawn. Why? Because their resolve is ingrained into the fabric of the country. They aren't paranoid, and they aren't panicked. Nothing says "I'm insecure about my country's strength" than a flag pin.

I loved the quote by one guy in a pub who on the day of the London bombings said that there would be hell to pay if the news pre-empted the football match on the television in his pub. I suppose in America that would be interpreted as a lack of patriotism. No, it's a supreme confidence in one's country, a feeling so secure it doesn't need to be asserted or displayed. And it's how I feel about America. I wish you could share my confidence.

That Nina Burleigh piece made my blood boil. She carefully tells her kid how America rained bombs on innocent children just like him (without giving any context at ALL or any info about how bad Saddam was) just to destroy the child's uncomplicated enjoyment of saying the Pledge and singing God Bless America. It's like putting a coal in your child's stocking just because he is
having too much pleasure finding presents under the tree.

Then she says "we love America too."

She would qualify as the 2nd example of an abusive mother.

Then, after they move back to the civilized Upper West Side from the nasty conservative upstate small town, she lets it drop that in his "progressive public grade school" they don't say the Pledge and there is no flag.

So NYC public schools don't mandate saying the Pledge? Or is this just the Upper West Side?

Just when i think we are charicaturing these people unnecessarily and I start to feel remorse, I read something like that, or I have a conversation with a Jewish "social activist" who says "Saddam wasn't so bad."

We're not exaggerating how moonbatty the moonbats are!! We're not!! I meet them every day, and when I don't meet them, I read about them!!

Nate, you're being deeply disingenuous.

For one thing, the linked survey above pretty much explodes the idea of quiet confidence - a significant percentage of left-liberals simply view America as a Bad Place in its essentials (indeed, a plurality of those who identified as very liberal did so), rather than a basically good place. And, as the Salon article decisively documents, this is what they teach and preach - even to children.

"The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war..." is not about some fantasy excuse of "it has come to be associated with Republicans" (gee, wonder why that is...) - it is the extension and expression of that philosophy.

Go tell the guy in the pub waiting for his football game that the Union Jack and Britain "stand for jingoism and vengeance and war." I suppose in all fairness, I should warn you that treatment waiting lines are long in Britian's National Health System. Normal people can tell the difference between quiet confidence and the belief that one's country is evil. One wonders why you cannot.

Or perhaps you can. Perhaps the Katha Pollitts and Nina Burleighs of the world can, too. Because the "we love our country" is immediately proven a lie with a simple thought-experiment: would they teach, say, the history of the Arab Peoples in the manner, slant, and tone Ms. Burleigh used to teach her child what America was all about? Of course not - indeed, if you tried it they'd label it bigoted hate speech.

Which, in point of fact, it would be.

Yehudit,
Your comment got my curiosity up - so after I read Burleigh's post (how lame can people be?) I went to the Salon home page. Curiously, their map of

Israel
looks a lot different than what I'm accustomed to. Of course, it certainly underscores why Antique Media is so - well, left.

America is not our father. America is not our child. We, the people, are America.

Look, I didn't hear the salon parents whole speech, but I generally don't like proselytizing views onto your children. Heck, children should probably try to avoid politics, because sometimes they're too just too complicated or thorny. When these issues have to come up parents should (to the best of your ability) give both sides. On the flip side, I was in middleschool when Clinton was first running for office, and all these other kids would try to get in fights with me because Clinton was going to raise their parent's taxes. Because, you know, that's the first thing kids worry about in 7th grade.

But yes, it'so easy to point out liberal whackos. And I can point out conservative whacko's all day long. Just like I could point out overbearing vegan parents, or overbearing football-star parents, or "my child is 4.0 so f-you" parents.

I do agree that you should protect your country, guide your country like your child. Sometimes they're an adult, other times not so much... And while the parents end up meddling a bit, sometimes it's worthwhile. Other times the parents are just making their children miserable. I think conservatives and liberals disagree most vigorously about the charecterstics their 'child' should embody. And many times both parents have laid in assumptions that are false or misleading... conly complicating the argument.

Arguing is good, it shows that we care and have passion, but we've taken it to the "divorced parents" level. We have to work together. Republicans are right, we democrats don't talk enough about many of the good things this country/conservatism have accomplished. But I feel that they're wrong when they ay true patriots never question they're nation's (they're child's) actions.

Democrats have a right to strive for better respect for others; by not letting oil companies support backwards nations like equatorial guinea, or Uzbekistan. That we should strive to do the moral action, over the easy action or over the action that most benefits our family. Sometimes that means choosing pacifism and sanctions over the destruction of war, sometimes its the other way around. And democrats are wrong when we take this so far that we assume the worst to be true about our nation.

I think conservatives are right to stress morality and faith in our nation. And wrong when they seek to impose that faith on others. Democrats are right to support individual liberty and freedom, but wrong to impose their moral compas onto others. I think conservatives are right to stress loyalty to family and nation and god, and I think democrats are right to say that some things are more important than family or nation (however the last thing is not neccessarily god).

In the end, we still are looking for our nation to be our ideal. We fight because we love.

More from Burleigh's piece for you, Alchemist:

Listening to their little voices, I felt guilty for being a non-believer. When I was 5 years old, in 1965, did I understand what my lefty parents were saying about the Kennedy assassination, Watts and dead-soldier counts? Who was I to deprive my son, or his eleven kindergarten chums, of their faith in a nation capable of combining "good with brotherhood?" In a 5-year-old's perfect world, perhaps such places should exist.

Her kid is 5. She's indoctrinating her son, at age 5, like she was indoctrinated. The article really is worth waiting through the ad.

A month after the Christmas outburst, the first rumors that all was not well with the school began circulating. Fiscal mismanagement, high fuel and retirement costs, and the depleted state economy had created a huge and unexpected cash shortfall for the tiny district. The parents at Narrowsburg School soon had a figure: It was going to cost just over $600,000 to keep their school open for another year. Chump change in Washington and New York City, but impossible to collect in a town where the median family income is barely $45,000. By late June 2005, the little school's fate was sealed. To my surprise I found I was deeply sorry about it.
Earlier in the article, she talks about how she and her family ended up in Narrowsburg. They had
"first arrived in Narrowsburg in 2000, as city people hunting for a cheap house. For barely $50,000 we were able to buy the "weekend house" we thought would complete our metropolitan existence."
After living abroad for a few years (France, naturally) they needed to move there full-time because "tenents [were]still subletting our city apartment" (one wonders if there isn't a story in that) and they had to make do with their country-mouse house.

Pause for a moment: she and her husband dropped more than most families there made in a year on a house in quaint upstate New York.

Got any class struggle bells going off yet?

Hopping, skipping, and jumping again, back to earlier in the article:

Still, for the first few months, we felt uneasy. Eighty of Narrowsburg's 319 adults are military veterans and at least 10 recent school graduates are serving in Iraq or on other bases overseas right now. The school's defining philosophy was traditional and conservative, starting with a sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline, leavened with a rafter-shaking reverence for country and flag. Every day the students gathered in the gym for the "Morning Program," open to parents, which began with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a patriotic song, and then discussion of a "word of the week." During the first few weeks, the words of the week seemed suspiciously tied to a certain political persuasion: "Military," "tour," "nation" and "alliance" were among them.

Now later, driving her son back into the City to do some guilt-by-association-mediating charity work:

A month later, just before Christmas, my son and I drove together into New York City with bags of children's clothes and shoes that he and his sister had outgrown. The Harlem unit of the National Guard was putting on a Christmas clothing drive for Iraqi children. On the way into the city, I tried to explain to my son what we were doing, and -- as best I could -- why. As we crossed the George Washington Bridge and the Manhattan skyline spread out below us, I began to give him a variation on the "Africans don't have any food, finish your dinner" talk. I wanted him to understand how privileged he was to live in a place where bombs weren't raining from the sky. It was a talk I'd tried to have before, but not one he'd ever paid much attention to until that day, trapped in the back seat of our car.

In simple language, I told my son that our president had started a war with a country called Iraq. I said that we were bombing cities and destroying buildings. And I explained that families just like ours now had no money or food because their parents didn't have offices to go to anymore or bosses to pay them. "America did this?" my son asked, incredulous. "Yes, America," I answered. He paused, a long silent pause, then burst out: "But Mommy, I love America! I want to hug America!"

Note: It was a National Guard collection she was driving to with her son. I wonder if she pointed out to the child that the evil bomb-droppers were also the folks who would distribute the family's hand-me-downs to families "just like ours".

Maybe not. That might have gotten in the way of the "anti-hug" message vis-a-vis Narrowsburg's 80-of-319 adults. (One wonders how many Iraqis had summer homes back in Tikrit. I don't suppose its unlikely that a fair number of those families were disproportionately disrupted by the U.S. military, but now I'm just being nasty.)

Finally, remember that evident shock-and-horror about the old-fashioned "sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline"?

My husband and I realized, though, that Narrowsburg did more than mold our boy into a patriot. He can, it turns out -- despite the warnings of other city parents -- read at a level twice that of his new peers. Since we returned to the city, he has learned how to ride a bike, long for an Xbox, practiced a few new swear words and, somehow, learned the meaning of "sexy." He has pretty much stopped favoring red, white and blue.

(Emphasis added.)

Yep, it won't be long until the boy will be believe everything else his peer group believes. If he's lucky, though, some of those archaic teaching techniques will have given him some instinctive habits that will stay with him. If not, there are always private tutors, Ritalin, and generous alumni gifts to carry him into the future.

Meanwhile, the folk from Narrowsville (and all the "red dot in a blue state" places) will be ready to fight to protect him, even if he doesn't manage to find the rebellious instinct to question (mom's) authority.

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