WHAT IS PATRIOTISM?
ARE YOU FOR IT OR AGAINST IT?
!!!THIS IS A THINKING MAN'S PAGE!!!
compiled by Dee Finney
Patriotism: Love for ones country, to
support, serve, and defend, to be inspired by,
Main Entry: pa·tri·ot·ism
: love for or devotion to one's country
Patrick Henry: "Give me liberty or give
|2-19-03 - DREAM - I was in my New Berlin, WI house.
I was talking to a young woman. She was in tears because she hadn't
seen some people from her
I told her she should go find them.
I then saw my son Bill's report card and under the subject 'Patriotism',
it was written in heavy
I had no idea he did that.
My brother-in-law was spending the night because he and my sister
had split up and he went
I slept on the 2nd floor in the library on a cot.
When I awakened in the morning, my talking woke him up and he came
downstairs with two
My brother-in-law (who now looked like Dr. Ben Davidson) from
One Life to Live, TV show, headed
He went down a few stairs and looked very sad and stood there and I rubbed his head to comfort him.
Then my sister appeared, looking even sadder. She suddenly
changed in a dove and she had a sharp
NOTE: I'm not naming names of who the cowboy might represent, but you can probably guess who it is.
Freedom is not free.
Freedom is not the license to do whatever you desire.
Existentially speaking, we are "condemned to freedom" as Sartre stated.
True liberty is living as we should, not as we please
"Our constitution was made only for a moral
and religious people.
"Do not ever let anyone claim to be a true American Patriot,
There exists nothing like the so-called absolute
liberty, there has to be
James 1:25 - But he who looks into the perfect law,
The Bill of Rights was attached to the Constitution to ensure that the people of the United States of America remain a free people. It was given to ensure that the people would always retain the ability to change the government when said government started to usurp unlawful authority over the daily affairs of individuals, usurping their rights in exchange for some so called rights of the State or the rights of a political majority ( or minority, as the case may be).
THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
THE FOURTH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
THE NINTH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
|America was founded on strong values. Our country has been the champion
for freedom and human rights since it began. We hold certain truths
to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed
with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness. The words of our founding fathers still ring
loud and true today. Support these words for all people. Take
action if necessary to maintain these values. The home of the brave.
Do not let anybody make you feel afraid. If you allow this to happen, you
let them imprison you and take your freedom from you! Be informed and vote.
America was founded on democracy. What gives America the greatest strength, is having all our citizens, from all walks of life and cultures, become informed on the issues that face our nation and then voting to make sure they are heard. Leave behind the apathy that has plagued our nation in recent decades and get back to what our founding fathers died for, to allow all our citizens to have representation in the laws that govern our country. If you dont like the way our government is doing its job, it is your patriotic duty to tell them. Protect our civil liberties As Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying: They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Dont give into the fear and allow our government to take away ANY of our liberties. To refresh yourself on some of our basic liberties, check out the Bill of Rights. Stay informed on what the government is doing, and exercise your freedom of speech to disagree with our government. It is NOT unpatriotic to provide constructive criticism on policies that you disagree with. It is the PATRIOTIC thing to do and your duty as a citizen. If anybody ever tells you your views are unpatriotic, ask them if exercising your freedom of speech is unpatriotic.
|Genuine patriotism is a benefit to any nation. Public spirit has valid
purposes--giving a nation's people a common purpose and rallying them to
support the government in times of crisis.
Patriotism also has its dangers--stimulating virulent nationalism, preventing fruitful policy debates, and carelessly directing a nation into wider destruction, pain and sorrow. Politicians, government agencies and "special interests" take advantage of critical situations to advance their positions. Pernicious forces subvert genuine patriotism with slogans, simplifications and "calls to patriotism" that disguise faulty policies and mask tendencies that create crises.
Freedoms are defended by limiting freedoms. Policies are finalized after limited discussion. Thoughtful expression can be replaced by thoughtless nationalism.
The government, and sometimes those who control media sources, often define patriotism, and then use the patriotic definition to promote their "special interests." Attached to the definition is a bundle of "catch " expressions; "pulling together," "our country right or wrong," "no time to contradict the leaders," "our cause is just," etc.
The definition places everyone on guard. Nobody wants to be accused of a lack of patriotism. It is recognized that in a time of crisis a nation's people should be "pulling together." But "pulling together" is correctly performed when it doesn't pull apart the country's principles, doesn't destroy its foundations of thought and discussion, doesn't fragment its vision and wisdom.
War can often be considered a legitimate response to attacks on a country. Still, a more genuine patriotism strives for peace and harmony rather than war and death. Somehow, the "call to patriotism' never considers support for peace and harmony. Perpetual war, in which the United States has engaged, invokes patriotism. Advocating peace invokes doubt and uncertainty, a questioning of patriotism.
A citizen who derives personal power, feelings of domination and control from the government's power and control substitutes patriotism for duty. Genuine patriots develop their own power and then use that power to exercise control over the government. American doctrines speak of "governing by consent of the governed," and not the governed blindly consenting to the government.
|Patriotism is looking at the flag of the United States of America,
and seeing beyond the cloth, the colors and seeing what the U.S. Flag embodies.
Our U.S. Flag represents all of the things this country stands for and is
based on. It is depicted in one symbol -the U.S. Flag.
Patriotism is not just putting up a U.S. Flag during war time, or during a National Holiday.
Patriotism does not mean we are better than others, but that we are proud of what we have accomplished in this country -and that we have no intentions of giving it up.
Patriotism is going to work and being a productive member of society.
Patriotism helping others in your community who are in need.
Patriotism is volunteering in your community.
Patriotism is giving back to your community, your country.
Patriotism is considering the needs of others as well as your own.
Patriotism is respecting the will of the people, not the special interests.
Patriotism is knowing the Pledge of Allegiance, what it means, and believing it as well as fighting for the right to utter it in public places.
Patriotism is understanding that freedom of religion does not mean censorship where a select few are offended.
Patriotism is understanding that freedom and democracy comes with a price, and if necessary being willing to defend it with your life.
Patriotism is exercising your right to vote, understanding the platforms of the candidates, and making an informed decision based on the good of all Americans and not just based on a political affiliation.
Patriotism is knowing the difference between freedom of expression, and desecrating our U.S. Flag.
Patriotism is understanding that even if you hate the U.S. Government is doing or that the U.S. Judicial System is doing things that you are against, that you can run for public office and lobby for change.
Patriotism is respecting our elected officials, but holding them accountable.
Patriotism is having a desire for peace on Earth, but realizing that there are those on this Earth who would do harm to us and we must protect/defend ourselves from their political views.
Patriotism is having faith in our Government, its actions and policies as they reflect the will of the people.
Patriotism is effecting positive change in our Government by way of efficacy, when we feel its actions and policies do not reflect the will of the people.
Patriotism is loving your country as you would love a family member.
Patriotism is appreciating your Armed Forces not just during times of war, and appreciating the sacrifices they make to defend our way of life during peace as well as war.
Patriotism is like having that feeling in your heart on Independence Day all year round.
Patriotism is for the common person as well as the elite.
Patriotism is the notion that the American Dream still exists, and is attainable, but that you will have to work hard to achieve it.
Patriotism is respecting the beliefs and interests of other peoples while holding true to our own.
Patriotism is looking at the American Flag and feeling part of something greater than any one of us as an individual.
Patriotism is saying What can I do? not What is in it for me?
IS DISSENT BEING UNPATRIOTIC?
Dissent In Pursuit Of Equality, Life, Liberty And Happiness
An Interview With Historian Howard Zinn
Sharon Basco is executive producer of TomPaine.com.
Howard Zinn is an historian and author of A People's History of the United States. Sharon Basco interviewed him for TomPaine.com.
TomPaine.com: Dissent these days seems to be a dirty word. The Bush administration has, at least since September 11th, usually termed any criticism of its policies "unpatriotic."
Howard Zinn: While some people think that dissent is unpatriotic, I would argue that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. In fact, if patriotism means being true to the principles for which your country is supposed to stand, then certainly the right to dissent is one of those principles. And if we're exercising that right to dissent, it's a patriotic act.
One of the great mistakes made in discussing patriotism -- a very common mistake -- is to think that patriotism means support for your government. And that view of patriotism ignores the founding principles of the country expressed in the Declaration of Independence. That is: the Declaration of Independence makes it clear that governments are artificial creations set up to achieve certain ends -- equality, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness -- and when governments become destructive of those ends it is the right of the people in the words of the Declaration, to alter or abolish the government.
In other words, obedience to government certainly is not a form of patriotism. Governments are the instruments to achieve certain ends. And if the government goes against those ends, if the government is not defending our liberties, but is diminishing our liberties, if the government is sending young people into war or making war which is unjustified, well then the government is not following the principles of caring about life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. When the government is taking huge sums of money from education and health, and using that money for military purposes, that's a violation of the principles of the Declaration of Independence. And a government like that cannot be obeyed. To obey a government like that is not being patriotic. At that point, when a government behaves like that, it is the most patriotic thing to disobey the government.
TP.c: Is it odd that a country founded by a bunch of dissenters now seems to have a population who are largely disapproving of dissent?
Zinn: When you say the country was founded by people who believed in dissent, well, they believed in their own right to dissent in the relationship with England. But it happens very often that people who believe in their own right to dissent, when they gain power they don't really accept the idea that other people have the right to dissent. And so, for instance, when the Founding Fathers, who very powerfully defended their right to dissent against the British when they expelled the British, and then they were faced with dissenters, like the former rebels of Shay's Rebellion in 1786, they sent an army to put them down.
Then when they were installed in office, and the new government in 1798, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made dissent -- that is, criticism of the government -- punishable by going to jail. So the right to dissent has always been a very difficult thing to defend because the people in power generally do not grant that right to those people who are out of power.
TP.c: Does the United States' lack of dissent have anything to do with the fact that we generally enjoy a reasonably prosperous economy?
Zinn: What other reasonable and prosperous societies are there? Not too many. I mean there are countries in western Europe that are reasonable and prosperous -- what we call the advanced, industrial countries, you know: Britain, France, Germany, the Scandinavian countries and so on -- they I think have a stronger tradition of allowing dissent than the United States does. And I think it has to do with the degree to which the United States has become a world power, an expansionist power, a military power.
It is always easier to suppress dissent when you are in a war, when you are engaging in military activity, and therefore when you can claim dissent cannot be allowed because it's dangerous to the security of the nation.
And since the other empires fell, since the Dutch and French and Germans and British empires have gone and the United States remains the one great empire of the world, then the United States is in a position to say, "Well, we're at war." And we are at war a lot. We've been at war a great deal since the end of World War II. And whenever we're at war, or near war, or worried about war, or finding an enemy -- whether it's communism or terrorism -- in a situation like that (and that's a situation that the other countries I mentioned are not facing), when you're in a situation like that, when you're a military power, expansionist power, then it becomes easier to argue that you must not allow dissent because national security is involved.
TP.c: If we see the Bush administration quashing dissent are we seeing something unusual? Or is this just the way presidents behave during a crisis or in wartime?
Zinn: Well it is, if you look at, I mean Lincoln suppressed dissent during the Civil War. In World War I, Woodrow Wilson (who was a liberal, a Democrat; I mean, just to show that dissent is not limited to conservative Republicans like Bush). But Wilson, a liberal Democrat, passed legislation just as Bush has passed legislation, the Patriot Act; and in Wilson's time, the Espionage and Sedition Act, which sent 1,000 people to jail. And it was under Wilson that they rounded up thousands of non-citizens and sent them out of the country without due process. I mean, civil liberties were really smashed under Wilson.
So, yes, Bush is not the first. Although this is one of the worst cases that we've had. But still it is typical in American history, and particularly in the 20th century, particularly as the United States has grown in military strength and has engaged in more and more military operations. It doesn't matter who the president is -- liberal, Democrat, Republican, conservative -- we get attacks on civil liberties. It was true of Truman as much as Eisenhower.
TP.com: And the citizenry must not mind, since we see Bush's approval ratings bobbing way up in the stratosphere.
Zinn: I believe that those numbers that register large degrees of popular support for Bush have been misleading. That is, I think there is an immediate tendency when a nation goes to war, for the public to rally around. Especially since, when a nation goes to war, the public has no other information given it about the war except what the president gives it.
Just as the nation supported the war in Vietnam at first because it got all of its information at first from the government. It's only when other kinds of information begin coming in, and when people start questioning what the government does, and become skeptical and have second thoughts about their support for the government, it's only then that you begin to get more and more dissent.
And I believe that already -- I've seen signs of it myself just going around the country speaking to many different groups of people, including many high school students -- I see signs of more and more skepticism about Bush policies, about the war on terrorism, and more and more worry about the attacks on our civil liberties.
I'm not saying that what I'm talking about has yet become a majority phenomenon. The majority probably still supports Bush. But, after all, during the Vietnam War we saw the public opinion change dramatically from support of the government's policy on Vietnam to opposition to the government. And of course it took a couple of years in the case of Vietnam.
I don't know how long it will take in this instance, but I certainly think that the direction in which we are going is a direction in which there is going to be more and more questioning of the government and its presumed omniscience about foreign policy. I think more and more people are going to question what we're doing. And in questioning what we're doing, they're likely more and more to defend the right of other people to question what we're doing.
TP.c: If the war against terrorism continues apace and yet shows no result, do you think that will erode Bush's success with the public?
Zinn: I think that's so, although it's impossible to predict at what point that happens.
It is possible, if you look at the situation in Israel for instance, and you see that the suicide bombers in Israel are met with overwhelming force by the Sharon government, and the people in Israel are of two minds. That is, on the one hand they declare that they'd like to see a Palestinian state; on the other hand they support Sharon because they're afraid of the suicide bombers. And yet, as the military action against the Palestinians grows, becomes more intense, and it doesn't stop the suicide bombers, I believe there begins to be an uneasiness among the Israeli people about whether this policy of Sharon, of using force against terrorism, works.
And I think in the case of the United States, we've been at war bombing Afghanistan for over six, eight months, and there's no sign that the threat of terrorism has abated. No sign that the American people feel more secure. Every day we get more and more warnings of possible terrorist actions. And it seems to me that at a certain point the American people must ask if this is so, if we still live under fear of terrorism which has not lessened at all, then what in the world was the government doing, spending all this money and expending all these lives -- the lives of other people -- in bombing Afghanistan. And now possibly going to bomb, or possibly invade another country like Iraq. I think there's bound to be -- and I don't know when this will happen -- but there's bound to be a growing disillusionment with such a policy.
TP.c: As an historian, you're used to looking at the big picture, and today's big picture has another very dark cloud looming, and that's the misdeeds of corporations now rattling the economy.
Zinn: I think there's a connection. Whether people are drawing that connection, I don't know. And whether people will draw that connection I'm not sure. But, yeah, here are these two things going on simultaneously. Here is this war on terrorism, and here is a kind of sickness in the economy -- that's how I would describe what this scandal represents -- emerging. And it seems to me at some point one must begin to affect the other.
Published: Jul 03 2002
Give me liberty, or give me death.
- in a speech
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.
I am not a Virginian but an American.
- in the Continental Congress
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.
- in a speech at the Virginia Convention
I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
Tarquin and Caesar had each his Brutus--Charles the First, his Cromwell--and George the Third--("Treason!" shouted the Speaker) may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.
I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.
|Patriotism means to stand by the country. It
does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save
exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic
to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic
not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiently or otherwise
he fails I his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic
not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.
A Prince, whose character is ... marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free People.
Declaration of Independence
Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel
|Gun Control, Patriotism, and Civil
by Jacob G. Hornberger, May 1991
The State of California recently enacted a law which requires owners of semiautomatic weapons to register their gum with the state. But when the law went into effect thousands of California gun owners, although risking a felony conviction, refused to comply with its requirements.
The gun owners were immediately showered with harsh criticism, not only from their public officials but from many of their fellow citizens as well. The critics implied, among other things, that since the law had been passed by the duly elected representatives of the people, the gun owners, as members of society, had a duty to comply with its terms.
The controversy raises important issues concerning liberty, property, government, patriotism, and civil disobedience.
As I have repeatedly emphasized, by adopting the welfare-state, planned-economy way of life, the American people of our time have rejected and abandoned the principles of individual freedom and limited government on which our nation was founded. But they have also rejected and abandoned something of equal importance: the concept of patriotism which characterized America's Founding Fathers.
There have been two different notions of patriotism in American history. The one which characterizes the American people of the 20th century the one which is taught in our public schools is this: patriotism means the support of one's own government and the actions which the government takes on behalf of the citizenry.' The idea is that since we live in a democratic society, the majority should have the political power to take any action it desires. And although those in the minority may not like the laws, they are duty-bound, as "good" citizens, to obey and support them.
The distinguishing characteristic of this type of patriotism is that the citizen does not make an independent, personal judgment of the rightness or wrongness of a law. Instead, he does what he has been taught to do since the first grade in his government schools: he places unwavering faith and trust in the judgment of his popularly elected public officials.
The other concept of patriotism was the type which characterized the British colonists during the late 1700s. These individuals believed that patriotism meant a devotion to certain principles of rightness and morality. They believed that the good citizen had " duty to make an independent judgment as to whether his own government's laws violated these principles. And so, unlike their counterparts in America today, these individuals refused to automatically accept the legitimacy of the actions of their public officials. Let us examine how "real-world" applications of these two concepts of patriotism differ dramatically.
In the late 1700s, the British colonists were suffering under the same type of oppressive regulatory and tax system under which present-day Americans are suffering. What was the reaction of the colonists to this regulatory and tax tyranny? They deliberately chose to ignore and disobey their government's regulations and tax acts. Smuggling and tax evasion were the order of the day! And the more that their government tried to enforce the restrictions, the more it met with disregard and disobedience from the citizenry.
Sometimes smugglers or tax evaders would be caught and brought to trial. The result? Despite conclusive evidence of guilt and the judges' instructions to convict, the defendants' fellow citizens on the juries regularly voted verdicts of acquittal.
And civil disobedience was not limited to economic regulations and taxation. There was also widespread resistance to conscription, especially during the French and Indian War. Those who were conscripted deserted the army in large numbers. And those who had not been conscripted hid the deserters in their homes.
This was what it once meant to be a patriot the devotion to a certain set of principles regarding rightness, morality, individualism, liberty, and property; and it meant a firm stand against one's own government when it violated these principles.
If an American of today were magically transported back to colonial America of the late 1700s, he would immediately find himself at odds with the colonists who were resisting the tyranny of their government. How do we know this? By the way which Americans of today respond to what is a much more oppressive and tyrannical economic system: with either meekness or, even worse, with ardent "flag-waving" support for the actions of their rulers. And what is their attitude toward their fellow citizens who are caught violating the rules and regulations? Again either meekness or fervent support of their rulers. After all, what was the reaction to the Internal Revenue Service's seizure of Willie Nelson's property? "I'll make a small donation but otherwise don't get me involved I don't want them coming after me!" And to the conviction of Michael Milken for violating such ridiculous economic regulations that even King George would have been embarrassed? "He got what's coming to him he shouldn't have made so much money anyway!" And to Leona Helmsley's conviction for having taken improper deductions on her income tax return? "She's obnoxious she should go to jail." The thought of rising to the defense of these victims of political tyranny is an anathema to the present-day American patriot."
And what about jury trials involving economic crimes? Like the good, little citizens they have been taught to be, especially in their public schools, American "patriots" dutifully comply with the judge's instructions to convict their fellow citizens of violating this regulatory and tax tyranny. Although they have the same power as their ancestors to disregard the judge's instructions and to acquit their fellow citizens, the thought of doing so is repugnant to present-day "patriots." They choose instead to do their "duty" hereby become "patriotic" agents of their own government's tyranny. Therefore, there is no doubt that the American of today would feel very uncomfortable if, all of a sudden, he found himself in the British colonies in 1775 in the midst of smugglers, tax evaders, draft resisters, and other patriots of that time.
This brings us back to the individuals in California who are refusing to register their guns.
As our American ancestors understood so well, the bedrock of a free society is private ownership of property. And there are fewer more important rights of private ownership than the unfettered right to own weapons. Why is ownership of weapons so vitally important? Not for hunting. And not even to resist aggression by domestic criminals or foreign invaders. No, as history has repeatedly shown, the vital importance of the fundamental right to own arms is to resist tyranny by one's own government should such tyranny ever become unendurably evil and oppressive.
The lesson which Americans of today have forgotten or have never learned the lesson which our ancestors tried so hard to teach us is that the greatest threat to our lives, liberty, property, and security lies not with some foreign government, as our rulers so often tell us; instead, the greatest threat to the well-being of all of us lies with our own government.
Of course, there are those who suggest that democratically elected public officials would never do anything seriously harmful to the American people. But let's look at just a few twentieth-century examples. They confiscated people's gold. They repudiated gold clauses in government debts. They provoked the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor and then acted like they were surprised. They incarcerated Japanese-Americans for no crime at all. They injected dangerous, mind-altering drugs into American servicemen without their knowledge. They radiated the American people in the Pacific Northwest and then deliberately hid it from them. They have surreptitiously confiscated and plundered people's income and savings through the Federal Reserve System. They have terrorized the citizenry through the IRS. And, most recently, they have sent our fellow citizens to their deaths thousands of miles away in the pursuit of a relatively insignificant cause.
Those who believe that democratically elected rulers lack the potential and inclination for destructive conduct against their citizenry are living in la-la land.
Of course, the proponents of political tyranny are usually well motivated. Those who enacted the gun-registration law in California point to those who have used semiautomatic weapons to commit horrible, murderous acts. But the illusion the pipe-dream is that bad acts can be prevented through the deprivation of liberty. They cannot be! Life is insecure whether under liberty or enslavement. The only choice is between liberty and insecurity, on die one hand, and insecurity and enslavement on the other.
The true patriot scrutinizes the actions of his own government with unceasing vigilance. And when his government violates the morality and rightness associated with principles of individual freedom and private property, he immediately rises in opposition to his government. This is why the gun owners of California might ultimately go down in history as among the greatest and most courageous patriots of our time.
Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
|Published on Sunday, February 16, 2003 by the Boulder Daily Camera
Patriotism and Protest
The Peace Movement Needs a Moral Vision Grounded in American Ideals
by Michael Kazin
As the U.S. military prepares for war, millions of Americans are seeking a way to stop it. Hundreds of thousands of them have attended national demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco. Local protest on campuses, in churches and by labor union members is broader and louder than at any time since the Vietnam War, more than three decades ago. Most Democrats running for president, eager to keep step with the party's base, have warned the White House against rushing into war.
But the American left, the natural vehicle for opponents of imperial overreach, remains a tiny persuasion and a sharply divided one at that. The organizers of the recent Washington and San Francisco marches refuse to say anything critical of Saddam Hussein; many belong to the Workers World Party, whose stated goal is "solidarity of all the workers and oppressed against this criminal imperialist system." That viewpoint dismays liberals such as philosopher and editor Michael Walzer, who calls for a "decent" left that would never apologize for tyrants. But whatever their views on Iraq, no one in the current peace movement has put forth a moral vision that might unite and sustain it beyond the precipice of war.
Progressives once had such a vision, and they derived it from unimpeachable sources the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They articulated American ideals of social equality, individual liberty and grass-roots democracy and accused governing elites of betraying them in practice. Through most of U.S. history, this brand of patriotism was indispensable to the cause of social change. It made the protests and rebellions of leftists comprehensible to their fellow citizens and helped inscribe those movements within a common national narrative.
Thomas Paine, born in England, praised his adopted homeland as an "asylum for mankind" which gave him a forum to denounce regressive taxes and propose free public education. Elizabeth Cady Stanton co-authored a "Declaration of Rights of Women" on the centennial of the Declaration of Independence and argued that denying the vote to women was a violation of the 14th Amendment. The Populists vowed to "restore the Government of the Republic to the hands of the 'plain people' with which class it originated" through such methods as an eight-hour day and nationalization of the railroads. In the 1930s, sit-down strikers proudly carried American flags into the auto plants they occupied and announced that they were battling for "industrial democracy." Twenty years later, Martin Luther King Jr. told his fellow bus boycotters, "If we are wrong the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong" and proclaimed that "the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right."
One could list analogous statements from pioneering reformers such as Jane Addams and Betty Friedan, industrial unionists John L. Lewis and Cesar Chavez, and the gay liberationist Harvey Milk. Without patriotic appeals, the great social movements that weakened inequalities of class, gender and race in the United States and spread their message around the world never would have gotten off the ground.
A self-critical sense of patriotism also led activists on the left to oppose their nation's expansionist policies abroad. At the end of the 19th century, anti-imperialists opposed the conquest of the Philippines by invoking the words of Thomas Jefferson and comparing President William McKinley to King George III. Foes of U.S. intervention in World War I demanded to know why Americans should die to defend European monarchs and their colonies in Africa and Asia. When Martin Luther King spoke out against the Vietnam War, he explained simply, "I criticize America because I love her. I want her to stand as a moral example to the world."
It's difficult to think of any American radical or reformer who repudiated the national belief system and still had a major impact on U.S. politics and policy. The movement against the Vietnam War did include activists who preferred the Vietcong flag to the American one and a few star-spangled banners were actually torched. But the antiwar insurgency grew powerful only toward the end of the 1960s, when it drew in people who looked for leadership to such liberal patriots as King, Walter Reuther and Eugene McCarthy rather than to Abbie Hoffman and the Weathermen.
Since then, however, many on the left have viewed national ideals as fatally compromised by the racism of the founders and the jingoism of flag-waving conservatives. Noam Chomsky derisively describes patriotism as the governing elite's way of telling its subjects, "You shut up and be obedient, and I'll relentlessly advance my own interests." Protesters against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank echo Malcolm X's description of himself as a "victim of Americanism" who could see no "American dream," only "an American nightmare." For such activists, fierce love for one's identity group whether black, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay or lesbian often seems morally superior to devotion to a nation that long tolerated that group's exclusion or abuse.
Progressives have certainly had some cause to be wary of those who invoke patriotism. After World War II, "Americanism" seemed to become the property of the American Legion, the House Un-American Activities Committee and the FBI. In the 1960s, liberal presidents bullied their way into Indochina in the name of what Lyndon Johnson called "the principle for which our ancestors fought in the valleys of Pennsylvania." On the contemporary right, popular talk-show hosts routinely equate a principled opposition to war with a "hatred" for America.
Yet the left's cynical attitude toward Americanism has been a terrible mistake. Having abandoned their defense of national ideals, progressives also lost the ability to pose convincing alternatives for the nation as a whole. They could take credit for helping to reduce the sadism of our culture toward homosexuals and racial minorities. But the right set the political agenda, in part because its activists were willing to speak forcefully in the name of American principles that knit together disparate groups such as anti-union businessmen, white evangelicals and Jewish neo-conservatives for mutual ends.
When progressives abandoned that vision at the end of the '60s, they lost something precious and necessary. The left could no longer speak convincingly to individuals and groups who did not share its iconoclastic assumptions. The economic interests of many of those "Middle Americans" whom Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan lured to the GOP clashed with those of the pro-business right. But the left's grammar of protest, with its emphasis on rights for distinct and separate groups, failed to mobilize an aggrieved majority.
On the Mall last month, some protesters carried signs that read "Peace Is Patriotic." If the left hopes to become more than an occasional set of demonstrators and grow, once again, into a mass movement, it will have to build on that sentiment and elaborate the wisdom behind it.
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the stakes have been raised. Even if war against terrorism and against Iraq doesn't continue to overshadow all other issues, it will inevitably force activists to clarify how they would achieve security, for individuals and the nation. How can one seriously engage in this conversation about protecting America if the nation holds no privileged place in one's heart? Without empathy for one's neighbors, politics becomes a cold, censorious enterprise indeed.
Progressives should again claim, without pretense or apology, an honorable place in the long tradition of those who demanded that American ideals apply to all and opposed the efforts of those, from whatever quarter, who tried to reserve them for privileged groups and ignoble causes. When the attorney general denies the right of counsel to a citizen accused of terrorism or a CEO cooks the books and fires workers who take him to task, they ought to be put on the defensive for acting in un-American ways. A left that scorns the very notion of patriotism is wasting a splendid opportunity to pose a serious alternative to the arrogant, blundering policies of the current administration and its political allies. Now, as throughout its history, the most effective way to love our country is to fight like hell to change it.
Michael Kazin teaches history at Georgetown University.
|An Online Research Center on the History and Theory of Anarchism
A MENACE TO LIBERTY
WHAT is patriotism? Is it love of one's birthplace, the place of childhood's recollections and hopes, dreams and aspirations? Is it the place where, in childlike naivete, we would watch the fleeting clouds, and wonder why we, too, could not run so swiftly? The place where we would count the milliard glittering stars, terror-stricken lest each one "an eye should be," piercing the very depths of our little souls? Is it the place where we would listen to the music of the birds, and long to have wings to fly, even as they, to distant lands? Or the place where we would sit at mother's knee, enraptured by wonderful tales of great deeds and conquests? In short, is it love for the spot, every inch representing dear and precious recollections of a happy, joyous, and playful childhood?
If that were patriotism, few American men of today could be called upon to be patriotic, since the place of play has been turned into factory, mill, and mine, while deafening sounds of machinery have replaced the music of the birds. Nor can we longer hear the tales of great deeds, for the stories our mothers tell today are but those of sorrow, tears, and grief.
What, then, is patriotism? "Patriotism, sir, is the last resort of scoundrels," said Dr. Johnson. Leo Tolstoy, the greatest anti-patriot of our times, defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires better equipment for the exercise of man-killing than the making of such necessities of life as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the average workingman.
Gustave Hervé, another great anti-patriot, justly calls patriotism a superstition--one far more injurious, brutal, and inhumane than religion. The superstition of religion originated in man's inability to explain natural phenomena. That is, when primitive man heard thunder or saw the lightning, he could not account for either, and therefore concluded that back of them must be a force greater than himself. Similarly he saw a supernatural force in the rain, and in the various other changes in nature. Patriotism, on the other hand, is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.
Indeed, conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.
The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner, of course, with the result that, from early infancy, the mind of the child is poisoned with bloodcurdling stories about the Germans, the French, the Italians, Russians, etc. When the child has reached manhood, he is thoroughly saturated with the belief that he is chosen by the Lord himself to defend his country against the attack or invasion of any foreigner. It is for that purpose that we are clamoring for a greater army and navy, more battleships and ammunition. It is for that purpose that America has within a short time spent four hundred million dollars. Just think of it--four hundred million dollars taken from the produce of the people. For surely it is not the rich who contribute to patriotism. They are cosmopolitans, perfectly at home in every land. We in America know well the truth of this. Are not our rich Americans Frenchmen in France, Germans in Germany, or Englishmen in England? And do they not squander with cosmopolitan grace fortunes coined by American factory children and cotton slaves? Yes, theirs is the patriotism that will make it possible to send messages of condolence to a despot like the Russian Tsar, when any mishap befalls him, as President Roosevelt did in the name of his people, when Sergius was punished by the Russian revolutionists.
It is a patriotism that will assist the arch-murderer, Diaz, in destroying thousands of lives in Mexico, or that will even aid in arresting Mexican revolutionists on American soil and keep them incarcerated in American prisons, without the slightest cause or reason.
But, then, patriotism is not for those who represent wealth and power. It is good enough for the people. It reminds one of the historic wisdom of Frederick the Great, the bosom friend of Voltaire, who said: "Religion is a fraud, but it must be maintained for the masses."
That patriotism is rather a costly institution, no one will doubt after considering the following statistics. The progressive increase of the expenditures for the leading armies and navies of the world during the last quarter of a century is a fact of such gravity as to startle every thoughtful student of economic problems. It may be briefly indicated by dividing the time from 1881 to 1905 into five-year periods, and noting the disbursements of several great nations for army and navy purposes during the first and last of those periods. From the first to the last of the periods noted the expenditures of Great Britain increased from $2,101,848,936 to $4,143,226,885, those of France from $3,324,500,000 to $3,455,109,900, those of Germany from $725,000,200 to $2,700,375,600, those of the United States from $1,275,500,750 to $2,650,900,450, those of Russia from $1,900,975,500 to $5,250,445,100, those of Italy from $1,600,975,750 to $1,755,500,100, and those of Japan from $182,900,500 to $700,925,475.
The military expenditures of each of the nations mentioned increased in each of the five-year periods under review. During the entire interval from 1881 to 1905 Great Britain's outlay for her army increased fourfold, that of the United States was tripled, Russia's was doubled, that of Germany increased 35 per cent., that of France about 15 per cent., and that of Japan nearly 500 per cent. If we compare the expenditures of these nations upon their armies with their total expenditures for all the twenty-five years ending with 1905, the proportion rose as follows:
In Great Britain from 20 per cent. to 37; in the United States from 15 to 23; in France from 16 to 18; in Italy from 12 to 15; in Japan from 12 to 14. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that the proportion in Germany decreased from about 58 per cent. to 25, the decrease being due to the enormous increase in the imperial expenditures for other purposes, the fact being that the army expenditures for the period of 190I-5 were higher than for any five-year period preceding. Statistics show that the countries in which army expenditures are greatest, in proportion to the total national revenues, are Great Britain, the United States, Japan, France, and Italy, in the order named.
The showing as to the cost of great navies is equally impressive. During the twenty-five years ending with 1905 naval expenditures increased approximately as follows: Great Britain, 300 per cent.; France 60 per cent.; Germany 600 per cent.; the United States 525 per cent.; Russia 300 per cent.; Italy 250 per cent.; and Japan, 700 per cent. With the exception of Great Britain, the United States spends more for naval purposes than any other nation, and this expenditure bears also a larger proportion to the entire national disbursements than that of any other power. In the period 1881-5, the expenditure for the United States navy was $6.20 out of each $100 appropriated for all national purposes; the amount rose to $6.60 for the next five-year period, to $8.10 for the next, to $11.70 for the next, and to $16.40 for 1901-5. It is morally certain that the outlay for the current period of five years will show a still further increase.
The rising cost of militarism may be still further illustrated by computing it as a per capita tax on population. From the first to the last of the five-year periods taken as the basis for the comparisons here given, it has risen as follows: In Great Britain, from $18.47 to $52.50; in France, from $19.66 to $23.62; in Germany, from $10.17 to $15.51; in the United States, from $5.62 to $13.64; in Russia, from $6.14 to $8.37; in Italy, from $9.59 to $11.24, and in Japan from 86 cents to $3.11.
It is in connection with this rough estimate of cost per capita that the economic burden of militarism is most appreciable. The irresistible conclusion from available data is that the increase of expenditure for army and navy purposes is rapidly surpassing the growth of population in each of the countries considered in the present calculation. In other words, a continuation of the increased demands of militarism threatens each of those nations with a progressive exhaustion both of men and resources.
The awful waste that patriotism necessitates ought to be sufficient to cure the man of even average intelligence from this disease. Yet patriotism demands still more. The people are urged to be patriotic and for that luxury they pay, not only by supporting their "defenders," but even by sacrificing their own children. Patriotism requires allegiance to the flag, which means obedience and readiness to kill father, mother, brother, sister.
The usual contention is that we need a standing army to protect the country from foreign invasion. Every intelligent man and woman knows, however, that this is a myth maintained to frighten and coerce the foolish. The governments of the world, knowing each other's interests, do not invade each other. They have learned that they can gain much more by international arbitration of disputes than by war and conquest. Indeed, as Carlyle said, "War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other."
It does not require much wisdom to trace every war back to a similar cause. Let us take our own Spanish-American war, supposedly a great and patriotic event in the history of the United States. How our hearts burned with indignation against the atrocious Spaniards! True, our indignation did not flare up spontaneously. It was nurtured by months of newspaper agitation, and long after Butcher Weyler had killed off many noble Cubans and outraged many Cuban women. Still, in justice to the American Nation be it said, it did grow indignant and was willing to fight, and that it fought bravely. But when the smoke was over, the dead buried, and the cost of the war came back to the people in an increase in the price of commodities and rent--that is, when we sobered up from our patriotic spree it suddenly dawned on us that the cause of the Spanish-American war was the consideration of the price of sugar; or, to be more explicit, that the lives, blood, and money of the American people were used to protect the interests of American capitalists, which were threatened by the Spanish government. That this is not an exaggeration, but is based on absolute facts and figures, is best proven by the attitude of the American government to Cuban labor. When Cuba was firmly in the clutches of the United States, the very soldiers sent to liberate Cuba were ordered to shoot Cuban workingmen during the great cigarmakers' strike, which took place shortly after the war.
Nor do we stand alone in waging war for such causes. The curtain is beginning to be lifted on the motives of the terrible Russo-Japanese war, which cost so much blood and tears. And we see again that back of the fierce Moloch of war stands the still fiercer god of Commercialism. Kuropatkin, the Russian Minister of War during the Russo-Japanese struggle, has revealed the true secret behind the latter. The Tsar and his Grand Dukes, having invested money in Corean concessions, the war was forced for the sole purpose of speedily accumulating large fortunes.
The contention that a standing army and navy is the best security of peace is about as logical as the claim that the most peaceful citizen is he who goes about heavily armed. The experience of every-day life fully proves that the armed individual is invariably anxious to try his strength. The same is historically true of governments. Really peaceful countries do not waste life and energy in war preparations, With the result that peace is maintained.
However, the clamor for an increased army and navy is not due to any foreign danger. It is owing to the dread of the growing discontent of the masses and of the international spirit among the workers. It is to meet the internal enemy that the Powers of various countries are preparing themselves; an enemy, who, once awakened to consciousness, will prove more dangerous than any foreign invader.
The powers that have for centuries been engaged in enslaving the masses have made a thorough study of their psychology. They know that the people at large are like children whose despair, sorrow, and tears can be turned into joy with a little toy. And the more gorgeously the toy is dressed, the louder the colors, the more it will appeal to the million-headed child.
An army and navy represents the people's toys. To make them more attractive and acceptable, hundreds and thousands of dollars are being spent for the display of these toys. That was the purpose of the American government in equipping a fleet and sending it along the Pacific coast, that every American citizen should be made to feel the pride and glory of the United States. The city of San Francisco spent one hundred thousand dollars for the entertainment of the fleet; Los Angeles, sixty thousand; Seattle and Tacoma, about one hundred thousand. To entertain the fleet, did I say? To dine and wine a few superior officers, while the "brave boys" had to mutiny to get sufficient food. Yes, two hundred and sixty thousand dollars were spent on fireworks, theatre parties, and revelries, at a time when men, women, and child}en through the breadth and length of the country were starving in the streets; when thousands of unemployed were ready to sell their labor at any price.
Two hundred and sixty thousand dollars! What could not have been accomplished with such an enormous sum? But instead of bread and shelter, the children of those cities were taken to see the fleet, that it may remain, as one of the newspapers said, "a lasting memory for the child."
A wonderful thing to remember, is it not? The implements of civilized slaughter. If the mind of the child is to be poisoned with such memories, what hope is there for a true realization of human brotherhood?
We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens. We are ready to hang, electrocute, or lynch anyone, who, from economic necessity, will risk his own life in the attempt upon that of some industrial magnate. Yet our hearts swell with pride at the thought that America is becoming the most powerful nation on earth, and that it will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all other nations.
Such is the logic of patriotism.
Considering the evil results that patriotism is fraught with for the average man, it is as nothing compared with the insult and injury that patriotism heaps upon the soldier himself,--that poor, deluded victim of superstition and ignorance. He, the savior of his country, the protector of his nation,--what has patriotism in store for him? A life of slavish submission, vice, and perversion, during peace; a life of danger, exposure, and death, during war.
While on a recent lecture tour in San Francisco, I visited the Presidio, the most beautiful spot overlooking the Bay and Golden Gate Park. Its purpose should have been playgrounds for children, gardens and music for the recreation of the weary. Instead it is made ugly, dull, and gray by barracks,--barracks wherein the rich would not allow their dogs to dwell. In these miserable shanties soldiers are herded like cattle; here they waste their young days, polishing the boots and brass buttons of their superior officers. Here, too, I saw the distinction of classes: sturdy sons of a free Republic, drawn up in line like convicts, saluting every passing shrimp of a lieutenant. American equality, degrading manhood and elevating the uniform!
Barrack life further tends to develop tendencies of sexual perversion. It is gradually producing along this line results similar to European military conditions. Havelock Ellis, the noted writer on sex psychology, has made a thorough study of the subject. I quote: "Some of the barracks are great centers of male prostitution.... The number of soldiers who prostitute themselves is greater than we are willing to believe. It is no exaggeration to say that in certain regiments the presumption is in favor of the venality of the majority of the men.... On summer evenings Hyde Park and the neighborhood of Albert Gate are full of guardsmen and others plying a lively trade, and with little disguise, in uniform or out.... In most cases the proceeds form a comfortable addition to Tommy Atkins' pocket money."
To what extent this perversion has eaten its way into the army and navy can best be judged from the fact that special houses exist for this form of prostitution. The practice is not limited to England; it is universal. "Soldiers are no less sought after in France than in England or in Germany, and special houses for military prostitution exist both in Paris and the garrison towns."
Had Mr. Havelock Ellis included America in his investigation of sex perversion, he would have found that the same conditions prevail in our army and navy as in those of other countries. The growth of the standing army inevitably adds to the spread of sex perversion; the barracks are the incubators.
Aside from the sexual effects of barrack life, it also tends to unfit the soldier for useful labor after leaving the army. Men, skilled in a trade, seldom enter the army or navy, but even they, after a military experience, find themselves totally unfitted for their former occupations. Having acquired habits of idleness and a taste for excitement and adventure, no peaceful pursuit can content them. Released from the army, they can turn to no useful work. But it is usually the social riff-raff, discharged prisoners and the like, whom either the struggle for life or their own inclination drives into the ranks. These, their military term over, again turn to their former life of crime, more brutalized and degraded than before. It is a well-known fact that in our prisons there is a goodly number of ex-soldiers; while, on the other hand, the army and navy are to a great extent plied with ex-convicts.
Of all the evil results I have just described none seems to me so detrimental to human integrity as the spirit patriotism has produced in the case of Private William Buwalda. Because he foolishly believed that one can be a soldier and exercise his rights as a man at the same time, the military authorities punished him severely. True, he had served his country fifteen years, during which time his record was unimpeachable. According to Gen. Funston, who reduced Buwalda's sentence to three years, "the first duty of an officer or an enlisted man is unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the government, and it makes no difference whether he approves of that government or not." Thus Funston stamps the true character of allegiance. According to him, entrance into the army abrogates the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
What a strange development of patriotism that turns a thinking being into a loyal machine!
In justification of this most outrageous sentence of Buwalda, Gen. Funston tells the American people that the soldier's action was "a serious crime equal to treason." Now, what did this "terrible crime" really consist of? Simply in this: William Buwalda was one of fifteen hundred people who attended a public meeting in San Francisco; and, oh, horrors, he shook hands with the speaker, Emma Goldman. A terrible crime, indeed, which the General calls "a great military offense, infinitely worse than desertion."
Can there be a greater indictment against patriotism than that it will thus brand a man a criminal, throw him into prison, and rob him of the results of fifteen years of faithful service?
Buwalda gave to his country the best years of his life and his very manhood. But all that was as nothing. Patriotism is inexorable and, like all insatiable monsters, demands all or nothing. It does not admit that a soldier is also a human being, who has a right to his own feelings and opinions, his own inclinations and ideas. No, patriotism can not admit of that. That is the lesson which Buwalda was made to learn; made to learn at a rather costly, though not at a useless price. When he returned to freedom, he had lost his position in the army, but he regained his self-respect. After all, that is worth three years of imprisonment.
A writer on the military conditions of America, in a recent article, commented on the power of the military man over the civilian in Germany. He said, among other things, that if our Republic had no other meaning than to guarantee all citizens equal rights, it would have just cause for existence. I am convinced that the writer was not in Colorado during the patriotic régime of General Bell. He probably would have changed his mind had he seen how, in the name of patriotism and the Republic, men were thrown into bull-pens, dragged about, driven across the border, and subjected to all kinds of indignities. Nor is that Colorado incident the only one in the growth of military power in the United States. There is hardly a strike where troops and militia do not come to the rescue of those in power, and where they do not act as arrogantly and brutally as do the men wearing the Kaiser's uniform. Then, too, we have the Dick military law. Had the writer forgotten that?
A great misfortune with most of our writers is that they are absolutely ignorant on current events, or that, lacking honesty, they will not speak of these matters. And so it has come to pass that the Dick military law was rushed through Congress with little discussion and still less publicity,--a law which gives the President the power to turn a peaceful citizen into a bloodthirsty man-killer, supposedly for the defense of the country, in reality for the protection of the interests of that particular party whose mouthpiece the President happens to be.
Our writer claims that militarism can never become such a power in America as abroad, since it is voluntary with us, while compulsory in the Old World. Two very important facts, however, the gentleman forgets to consider. First, that conscription has created in Europe a deep-seated hatred of militarism among all classes of society. Thousands of young recruits enlist under protest and, once in the army, they will use every possible means to desert. Second, that it is the compulsory feature of militarism which has created a tremendous anti-militarist movement, feared by European Powers far more than anything else. After all, the greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism. The very moment the latter is undermined, capitalism will totter. True, we have no conscription; that is, men are not usually forced to enlist in the army, but we have developed a far more exacting and rigid force--necessity. Is it not a fact that during industrial depressions there is a tremendous increase in the number of enlistments? The trade of militarism may not be either lucrative or honorable, but it is better than tramping the country in search of work, standing in the bread line, or sleeping in municipal lodging houses. After all, it means thirteen dollars per month, three meals a day, and a place to sleep. Yet even necessity is not sufficiently strong a factor to bring into the army an element of character and manhood. No wonder our military authorities complain of the "poor material" enlisting in the army and navy. This admission is a very encouraging sign. It proves that there is still enough of the spirit of independence and love of liberty left in the average American to risk starvation rather than don the uniform.
Thinking men and women the world over are beginning to realize that patriotism is too narrow and limited a conception to meet the necessities of our time. The centralization of power has brought into being an international feeling of solidarity among the oppressed nations of the world; a solidarity which represents a greater harmony of interests between the workingman of America and his brothers abroad than between the American miner and his exploiting compatriot; a solidarity which fears not foreign invasion, because it is bringing all the workers to the point when they will say to their masters, "Go and do your own killing. We have done it long enough for you."
This solidarity is awakening the consciousness of even the soldiers, they, too, being flesh of the flesh of the great human family. A solidarity that has proven infallible more than once during past struggles, and which has been the impetus inducing the Parisian soldiers, during the Commune of 1871, to refuse to obey when ordered to shoot their brothers. It has given courage to the men who mutinied on Russian warships during recent years. It will eventually bring about the uprising of all the oppressed and downtrodden against their international exploiters.
The proletariat of Europe has realized the great force of that solidarity and has, as a result, inaugurated a war against patriotism and its bloody spectre, militarism. Thousands of men fill the prisons of France, Germany, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries, because they dared to defy the ancient superstition. Nor is the movement limited to the working class; it has embraced representatives in all stations of life, its chief exponents being men and women prominent in art, science, and letters.
America will have to follow suit. The spirit of militarism has already permeated all walks of life. Indeed, I am convinced that militarism is growing a greater danger here than anywhere else, because of the many bribes capitalism holds out to those whom it wishes to destroy.
The beginning has already been made in the schools. Evidently the government holds to the Jesuitical conception, "Give me the child mind, and I will mould the man." Children are trained in military tactics, the glory of military achievements extolled in the curriculum, and the youthful minds perverted to suit the government. Further, the youth of the country is appealed to in glaring posters to join the army and navy. "A fine chance to see the world!" cries the governmental huckster. Thus innocent boys are morally shanghaied into patriotism, and the military Moloch strides conquering through the Nation.
The American workingman has suffered so much at the hands of the soldier, State and Federal, that he is quite justified in his disgust with, and his opposition to, the uniformed parasite. However, mere denunciation will not solve this great problem. What we need is a propaganda of education for the soldier: antipatriotic literature that will enlighten him as to the real horrors of his trade, and that will awaken his consciousness to his true relation to the man to whose labor he owes his very existence. It is precisely this that the authorities fear most. It is already high treason for a soldier to attend a radical meeting. No doubt they will also stamp it high treason for a soldier to read a radical pamphlet. But, then, has not authority from time immemorial stamped every step of progress as treasonable? Those, however, who earnestly strive for social reconstruction can well afford to face all that; for it is probably even more important to carry the truth into the barracks than into the factory. When we have undermined the patriotic lie, we shall have cleared the path for that great structure wherein all nationalities shall be united into a universal brotherhood, --a truly FREE SOCIETY.
THOSE WHO DON'T PARTICIPATE
"If a jerk burns a flag, America is not threatened.
-- Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-New York).
Jehovah's Witnesses view the entire world systems outside their own organization, social, political, military, and religious, as satanic. They are taught to renounce and abstain from military service, patriotism, and celebrating religious holidays. Their children are not allowed to engage in school activities, such as Christmas plays, saluting the flag, or the Pledge of Allegiance, creating severe social feelings of isolation.
|A Show of Anti-Patriotism
American Flags Scorched in Franklin Square
In a week, Flag Day, a day on which American citizens pay homage to the American flag as a symbol of freedom and pride, will be recognized. But in one section of Franklin Square, there has been a different treatment of the flag recently that has some residents disturbed.
The Nassau County Police Department Arson Squad is investigating a rash of incidents in which American flags displayed proudly in flag holders on homes have been burned.
According to Detective Brian Kaminsky of the Nassau County Police Department Arson Squad, from May 10 to May 16, there have been 14 incidents of burning American flags. In addition, two homes received minor structural damage, according to the detective. It is believed the incidents have occurred between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The area that appears to be targeted is located south of Hempstead Turnpike in the neighborhood of Rintin Steet and Commonwealth Street.
Nassau County Crime Stoppers has gone as far as offering a $2,000 reward for information relating to the flag burning incidents.
New York State Assemblyman Tom Alfano's chief of staff Scott Cushing said the assemblyman and Franklin Square/Munson Fire Department Commissioner Doris Griffin have been going to some of the families whose flags were burned and giving replacement flags.
"Whoever the coward is who would burn a flag and cause damage to a home has to be stopped before somebody gets hurt. The reward offered by Crime Stoppers is a step in the direction," Alfano said.
Griffin urges residents of the area to exercise caution and perhaps take the flags in at night since there could be a danger to homes. Even with the possible danger, displaying the flag has not been dissuaded in the area, according to Griffin. "Other neighbors who have heard about it are putting flags up because they feel this is America and they're showing support for their country. None of us understand what's happening or why it's happening," she said.
Ever since the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, more flags have been displayed outside of homes. In a time that a show of patriotism is evident in Long Island communities, the act of burning a flag has some expressing concern.
"I was angry that actions such as that are happening in my community. The arsonist has to be stopped," said Dan Benigno, a student of St. John's University and a resident in the area of Franklin Square where the incidents have occurred.
Police are still investigating, but haven't had much to go on. It is believed, however, that the perpetrator or perpetrators are operating on foot. Detective Kaminsky said there have not been similar instances in other areas.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.
MAKING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE MANDATORY
Are you aware that the Supreme Court ruled against this in 1943? "on June 14, 1943, the Supreme Court reconsidered its earlier decision, holding that the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment denies the government the authority to compel individuals to salute the American flag or to recite the pledge of allegiance." It was just in the year prior to that, in fact, that Congress codified the pledge and changed the recitation of it from a Nazi-like raised hand salute. It was religious people, who objected to saying the pledge as they felt it was against their religion, and now, of course, with the interjection of "under God", which was added in 1954 during the height of McCarthyism and the Cold War, atheists, agnostics and others are added to the list of those who find the mandatory reciting of the pledge objectionable. It is ironic to 'force' someone, to pledge themselves to something in the name of "freedom"? People should be free to choose how to best express their own patriotism and that parroting the words of others can be a very hollow experience for many. How much is actually known about this pledge by most? People treat it as if God Himself carved it into stone. In fact, it was written by a socialist in 1892 for a youth magazine that sold flags along with other goods. This magazine sold flags to about 26,000 schools after the editor there had the bright idea to push for a flag salute in the public schools, schools which prior to that, seldom had flags in place. This is what is held sacred now? It is so sacred that we must indoctrinate our youngest children into mindlessly repeating the words, words which at 5, 6, 7... they can have little or no understanding of. Patriotism can be expressed in many many ways, but never through mindlessness, never through force. How sad if our children should learn that freedom is about conformity, unity is about tyranny, and patriotism is so very very narrow.
Bear in mind, too, that our founding fathers never said this pledge, nor did anyone for 116 years after our country was founded. People managed to live here, love their country, fight for their country, and work for their country without ever being forced to say a pledge of allegiance to the flag. Were these not good Americans, patriotic Americans?
|Squabbling over the Pledge
The U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals ruled in 2002 to render unconstitutional the pledge of allegiance. But there was also a public reaction, both found and fanned by the press.
New York newspapers unanimously panned the ruling. "The judges do not understand the ocean of difference between two small words and the constitutional prohibition against establishing an official religion," said the Daily News in an editorial titled "Somebody Bless America," which blamed "fanatical civil libertarians" and called the decision "stupefyingly silly." "This is a land blessed," continued the News. "If you don't like the pledge, you don't have to say it. If you don't like the phrase 'under God,' you don't have to say that. But those who wish to recite it should be permitted to do so. Even in school."
"Where's a San Francisco earthquake when you really need one?" asked the New York Post's editorial "Left Coast Lunacy." Complaining that "the loopy left has pressed for the broadest possible interpretation of the Establishment Clause," the Post praised "the natural inclination of any society to distill its basic beliefs into civic shorthand," and called "the Pledge of Allegiance . . . an easily digested version of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
"A Left Coast federal-court decision" is how the Post began a news article titled "God-Awful," its reporter adding, "In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, the court's timing couldn't have been worse."
"Why They Hate New York" was the title of a Post editorial criticising House of Representatives Gary Ackerman, Jerrold Nadler, and Nydia Velazquez for abstaining from a 416-3 vote that endorsed keeping the words "under God" in the pledge.
The New York Times said that though the 1954 addition of "under God" was "a petty attempt to link patriotism with religious piety . . . after millions of repetitions over the years, the phrase has become part of the backdrop of American life," and that the "well-meaning ruling . . . lacks common sense. A generic two-word reference to God tucked inside a rote civic exercise is not a prayer." The decision "invit[es] a political backlash for a matter that does not rise to a constitutional violation. . . . The ruling trivializes the critical constitutional issue of separation of church and state." Also calling the issue "trifling," Newsday said that the court "went way overboard."
Local and syndicated columnists raged in New York papers. "The entire moral inheritance of our Founding Fathers is predicated on the repeated idea that something beyond the power and wisdom of mere mortals is necessary for the survival of the United States," said Victor David Hansen in the New York Post. "It is the worst form of modernist condescension. . . . It is also elitist. . . . It's arrogant. . . . Finally, the decision is dangerous for the message it sends to our enemies at a time of war. They claim that our creed is as intolerant of religion as theirs is of reason. They say that they believe in something, we in nothing."
"Even the wild-eyed Tom Paine invoked 'the Word of God' in his Common Sense," said another New York Post writer.
Complaining about the "foam-at-the-mouth hostility to religion that grips our elites," John Leo said in the Daily News that "the ruling opens the door to a serious discussion of the aggressive ideological campaign against religion. . . . While using high-road rhetoric (safeguarding church-state separation allows all faiths to flourish, etc.), the elites have pursued low-road policies, relentlessly working to drive religion from the public square."
Marc Gellman and Thomas Hartman, the rabbi-priest pair who write folksy interfaith advice once a week in Newsday, actually wrote the most wrathful opinion, titled "In the Court Of Secular Fanaticism." "Since Sept. 11, we've been living with the specter of religious fanaticism," they said (meaning only Islamic). "So it's grimly refreshing that two judges from the Ninth Circuit on the Left Coast have now offered us a glimpse of secular fanaticism. . . . We Americans believe our rights come from God -- not from the state. What God gives, no state can take away. . . . There must be some power higher than the state, or there's no way to critique the state. Without God, politics is idolatry."
Peter Steinfels' weekly "Beliefs" column in the New York Times suggested that the First Amendment clauses barring Congress from making any law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," became popular more because of late-nineteenth-century anti-Catholicism from nativists such as the Ku Klux Klan, and less because of late-eighteenth-century Jeffersonian ideals.
But there were other commentaries. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., wrote in the Times in 1943, after the Jehovah's Witnesses won for all the right to abstain from the pledge, "the American people then, far from denouncing the court, applauded the decision as a pretty good statement of what we were fighting for. Are we backsliding today?" Daily News columnist Michael Kramer called the decision foolish, but added that after talking to an atheist child who unhappily said "under God" because of peer pressure, he felt that the values of tolerance outweighed the inclusion in the pledge of that exclusionary phrase.
"The decision is entirely correct in constitutional terms, although, as an atheist and a civil libertarian, I wish that a more substantive issue than the pledge were responsible for reigniting the passions of the religiously correct," wrote columnist Susan Jacoby in Newsday. "The furor is rooted in a common modern American misconception -- that the nation was founded upon religion from the beginning and that 'secular humanist' courts in the second half of the 20th century are responsible for banning public demonstrations of religious allegiance once taken for granted. Nothing could be further from the truth. The issue of whether to use the word 'God' in the Constitution was fully debated at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and the secularists prevailed. The first five American presidents, from George Washington to James Monroe, eschewed any public statements of their private religious beliefs. The now-sanctified Pledge . . . was entirely secular in its original wording."
Jacoby concluded by describing a teacher who had said of her students, " 'They don't know the words to the Bill of Rights and they don't know the Declaration of Independence, but they can all recite the Pledge.' That many students don't know anything about the Bill of Rights is precisely the problem -- one that cannot be corrected by retaining or removing God from the Pledge of Allegiance."
The fact that "boards of education are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of constitutional freedoms of the individual," said atheist columnist Nat Hentoff in his Village Voice article "God Is Not in the Constitution." Hentoff was quoting from -- and praising the 9th Circuit court for following -- the 1943 U.S. Supreme Court suit that rejected a board of education's policy that Jehovah's Witness children who refused to join in the pledge should be expelled, sent to reformatories, and their parents threatened with prosecution. Responding to Attorney General John Ashcroft, who said that "this decision is directly contrary to two centuries of American tradition," Hentoff replied that "an even longer American tradition is that there is no mention of God in the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence, heralded by opponents of the Ninth Circuit decision for its references to God, does not have the force of law. And the Constitution says plainly, 'No religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public trust under the United States.' We all have the right to freedom of belief, or nonbelief, in God."
Daily News columnist E. R. Shipp praised the ruling "even though I am a Baptist and a regular churchgoer. . . . While the decision in the case brought by Dr. Michael Newdow has given the talk-show gasbags a lot to howl about and the candidates something to run on, it really doesn't affect how and what we believe theocratically. It merely limits our abilities to force others to see, feel, and believe as we do. I always think of the hypocrisy of the Pilgrims and their contemporaries who supposedly came to North America from England in search of religious freedom. Once they got here, they usually set up such an oppressive system that religious freedom was denied to dissenters. Have no fear: You may still live your life "under God," but the Constitution does not mandate God in our polity or our civic lives. Speaking of which, how many people have actually taken the time to read the document and learn that?"
"[Cold-war hysteria] came back with a vengeance after Sept. 11, with an infusion of God and patriotism in all aspects of public life, practically coercing people into waving flags," concluded Shipp. "Newdow and the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the villains in this drama as far as preachers, politicians, editorialists, and talk-show hosts are concerned, may have really done the country a favor by reminding us that we are a democracy, not a theocracy."
"Under God" was inconsequential to Daily News columnist Richard Cohen, but he was upset that when "the entire Congress rose as one and . . . recited the Pledge, not one member had the guts to dissent. . . . After a lifetime in journalism, I can tell you that some members of Congress are religious skeptics. Some are even agnostics or atheists. That's true of society in general, and it is no less true of our national leaders. Yet not one questioned the consensus. Not one stood up for that school kid in California. If these men and women, adults with immense influence, were cowed into acting like 8-year-olds in the classroom, then how can we expect real 8-year-olds to assert their constitutional right to delete the phrase or not recite the Pledge at all? What kid can stand up to that kind of pressure? Certainly, no member of Congress could. . . . A court understood her plight -- and then Congress, virtually to a person, stood as one and effectively declared she should, as the law allows, make a stand on principle by staying silent. They covered their hearts -- but they were really covering something else instead."
Reporters' people-in-the-street interviews were uniformly negative. "What is so wrong with saying the word 'God'?" said a Long Island woman. "It's not a prayer to God, it's a pledge to a country." "The pledge is a symbol and we are crying out for symbols these days," said a Woodmere, New York, public school principal. "'Under God' could mean whatever your definition of God is, not any one person's definition," said a Great Neck parent of elementary school students.
September 11 was often invoked. "After 9/11 we all turned to God, and now we want to turn our backs on him?" said clerk in Ridgewood, New Jersey. "We need to have more respect for our faith since God carried us through 9/11," said an Elmhurst real estate agent.
How did clergy react? "Taking God . . . [out of the pledge] is raping the very fabric of the Constitution," said the minister of Westbury's Long Island Bible Baptist Church. "The name of God should be mentioned whenever possible," said the rabbi of Temple Israel in Riverhead, New York.
A rare positive comment came from Long Island Secular Humanists' Gerry Dantone in Newsday: "Every day, children are forced to say a prayer in school and it's just inappropriate." He said his two children attend public school, but that they recite the pledge without the words "under God."
The pledge fillip ended with a hiccup a week later, when the Associated Press reported that Newdow's 8-year-old daughter, who had given Newdow standing in the case but was now under her religious mother's custody, routinely said "under God" during the pledge and is attending a church. "I have a right to send my child to a public school without the government inculcating any religious beliefs," replied Newdow, adding that the mother taking the child to church doesn't mean the 8-year-old is choosing to be religious.
The New York Times reported that Newdow planned to "to ferret out all insidious uses of religion in daily life," including the use of "In God We Trust" on currency and prayers at presidential inaugurations. "Why should I be made to feel like an outsider?" he said.
Sources: "God-Awful," New York Post, 6/27/02; " Ruling Will Change Nothing in City Schools," Newsday, 6/27/02; " Somebody Bless America," Daily News, 6/27/02; "Left Coast Lunacy," New York Post, 6/27/02; " 'One Nation Under God'," New York Times, 6/27/02; "No Need to Throw God Out of the Pledge of Allegiance," Newsday, 6/27/02; "America's Pledge," New York Post, 6/28/02; "By God, These Elitists Are Making Me Cringe," Daily News, 7/1/02; "In the Court Of Secular Fanaticism," Newsday, 7/1/02; "Evolution of Words That Aren't There," New York Times, 7/6/02; "When Patriotism Wasn't Religious," New York Times, 7/7/02; "Pledging Ourselves to Tolerance," Daily News, 7/7/02; "Much Ado About Propagandist Pledge," Newsday, 6/28/02; "God Is Not in the Constitution," Village Voice, 6/28/02; "Congress Cowardly on Religion," Daily News, 7/9/02; "Court's 'Under God' Ruling Fits the Constitution," Daily News, 6/30/02; "On Island, 9/11 Made Pledge Even More Vital," Newsday, 6/27/02; " Girl in Pledge of Allegiance Case Recites It at School," Associated Press, 7/12/02; " 'Under God' Iconoclast Looks to Next Targets," New York Times, 7/1/02.
When Patriotism Wasn't Religious
July 7, 2002
by Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
The word "God" does not appear in the Constitution of the United States, a document that erects if not quite a wall, at least a fence between church and state. "In God We Trust" began to appear on American coins in the 19th century, but in the early 20th century President Theodore Roosevelt, having asked the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to design new coinage, was relieved to find no statute mandating "In God We Trust" on coins.
"As the custom, altho without legal warrant, had grown up," T. R. wrote to a clergyman distressed over the prospect of godless coins, "I might have felt at liberty to keep the inscription had I approved of its being on the coinage. But as I did not approve of it, I did not direct that it should again be put on."
T. R. expressed his "very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins . . . not only does no good but does positive harm." His objection to "In God We Trust" was not constitutional; it was aesthetic. He felt that the motto cheapened and trivialized the trust in God it was intended to promote. "In all my life I have never heard any human being speak reverently of this motto on the coins or show any sign of its having appealed to any high emotion in him," he wrote. Indeed, he added, "the existence of this motto on the coins was a constant source of jest and ridicule."
Congress, devoted then as now to religiosity, overruled T. R. and made the motto mandatory. A similar issue now arises from the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that the insertion of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a former Baptist minister, as part of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of what our politically incorrect ancestors called Columbus's "discovery" of America. Bellamy was a Christian socialist dedicated to the ideal of a cooperative commonwealth. His unpopular socialist critique of capitalism from the pulpit forced his resignation from the ministry. Soon afterward he joined the staff of The Youth's Companion, the once-famous children's magazine, which printed his Pledge of Allegiance on Sept. 8, 1892.
Francis Bellamy said on Flag Day in 1931, a short time before his death, that the pledge was "born out of my own love of the flag and for all the lofty Americanism it represented." Two alterations have been made in Bellamy's text. In 1924 "my flag" became "the flag of the United States of America." And in 1954 Congress changed "one nation indivisible" into "one nation under God, indivisible."
This second change came about in order to emphasize the antagonism between God-fearing Americans and godless Communists, as if that antagonism needed reinforcement in the age of Joe McCarthy. "From this day forward," President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in signing the law, "the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim . . . the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty." T. R.'s objection to the cheapening of religious avowals had long since been forgotten. (Eisenhower also said, "Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply held religious belief - and I don't care what it is.")
Bellamy "would have objected strongly to this change, as it changed the fundamental meaning," according to his granddaughter, Barbara Bellamy Wright. "He had considered that `One nation, indivisible' conveyed the deep meaning that after the Civil War our nation could not be divided," she said, and the reference to God "tampered with the original meaning of the pledge as well as spoiling its rhythmic cadence."
Yet a hysterical clamor has risen against the Ninth Circuit decision and in favor of returning the pledge to the original text - a text that Americans found quite satisfactory for nearly two-thirds of a century. The "under God" addition, by identifying patriotism with religion, excludes agnostics, atheists and all believers in some deity or deities other than the Christian God. Nor does the "under God" addition meet Theodore Roosevelt's test of promoting reverence and appealing to high emotions. Doubtless all the crooks in the corporate community have recited the pledge without notably improving their conduct.
As for the Constitution, more than a half-century ago the Supreme Court, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, declared unconstitutional a law requiring schoolchildren to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation," Justice Robert H. Jackson memorably said for the court, "it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion."
The court handed down its decision against compulsory pledges of allegiance and flag salutes on Flag Day in 1943, when young Americans were fighting and dying for that flag around the planet. The American people then, far from denouncing the court, applauded the decision as a pretty good statement of what we were fighting for. Are we backsliding today? Perhaps the next step for those who identify patriotism with religion will be to try to amend the Constitution itself by mentioning God.
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. is the author, most recently, of ``A Life in the 20th Century.''
And so I believe that my conduct is in accordance
with the will of the Almighty creator.
-- Adolph Hitler
Patriotism is the conviction that this country is
superior to all other countries
-- George B. Shaw
"Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth.
Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible. Thought
is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit.
Thought is great and swift and free..."
"What luck for the rulers that men do not think."
"What is strong wins: this is the universal law.
If only it were not so often precisely what is stupid and evil!"
|George H. Bush||Ronald Reagan||Jimmy Carter||Gerald Ford|
|Richard Nixon||Lyndon Johnson||John Kennedy||Dwight Eisenhower|
|Harry Truman||Franklin Roosevelt||Herbert Hoover|
|The Constitution of the United States||The Declaration of Independence|
|United States Senate||United States House of Representatives|
|United States Courts||Library of Congress|
|The National Mall||Lincoln Memorial||President's Park (White House)|
|Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial||Korean War Veterans Memorial||Thomas Jefferson Memorial|
A MORAL TO THIS STORY
A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife
opening a package. What food might it contain?
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse,
I can tell you this is a grave concern to you,
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mouse trap in the house."
"I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse," sympathized the pig, "but there is nothing
I can do about it but pray. Be assured that
The mouse turned to the cow. She said, "Like wow, Mr. Mouse. A mouse trap.I am in grave danger. Duh?"
So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected to face the farmer's mouse trap alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mouse trap catching its prey.
The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught.
In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail
the trap had caught. The snake bit the
The farmer rushed her to the hospital.. She returned home with a fever.
Now everyone knows you treat a fever
His wife's sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock.
To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer's wife did not get well. She died, and so many people came
for her funeral the farmer had the cow
So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think
that it does not concern you, remember