Saturday, June 17, 2006


VIA Orbusmax, we have a couple of links I find to be oddly connected… By their mutual membership in the “things that rile Neoconservatives” club…

First a blurb from the Orb himself:

“COMMENCEMENT AT THE EVERGREEN STATE COLLEGE: "Dancing, yelling, jars of peanut butter and jelly, and the newly minted graduate's own rendition of the song 'Happy Together'..."”…

My oh my… singing… peanut butter and jelly… We need an airstrike immediately!

I’ll never live long enough to figure out what bugs neocons about my Alma Mater. Get past the funny costumes, the place is very ordinary. Maybe it’s just the institutionalized disrespect of institutions; maybe a perception of disrespect is responsible for the venom.

Or maybe it’s the “question authority, flout tradition” attitude...

If so, that’s an oddity…Questioning authority and flouting tradition are very American – I recall reading many examples of how Jefferson, Madison, and their peers questioned and flouted…

Generally when I ask “why the animus?” one-on-one I get a noncommittal answer or none at all. Most of the detractors have little firsthand experience there. Oh well. Maybe someone can enlighten me today…

Then there’s this little piece from the UK Telegraph:

“How the Chicks survived their scrap with Bush”

Natalie Maines, the “chick” who caused a furor in 2003 by expressing regret GWB was from her home state, has once again made utterance sure to leave neocons vein-popping, eye-bugging pissed:

“"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism. Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."”


Merrian Webster defines “patriotism” simply: “Love or devotion to one’s country.”

Any love can be twisted… Patriotism isn’t necessarily a good thing.

If patriotism is devotion, fanatical devotion of one’s country, then Adolf Hitler was among the greatest patriots that ever lived. Whatever else said about him, there can be no doubt he was fanatically devoted to the Germany he helped to re-create…

And if patriotism is love, then it is a private, internal thing, something no person may judge in another. What if you love your country but think it has been corrupted to the point violence is required to save it? One man’s patriot is another man’s terrorist.

Can a Timothy McVeigh be a patriot? Only if his side wins, I guess…

Oh, I realize that when the average person uses that term, especially in war time, what they really mean to express is solidarity with our Nation’s policies and respect for its institutions and traditions – it’s more a question of a qualified devotion to an amorphous thing we’re all in together. More or less…

More or less. Most people in America will reject the more fanatical expressions of disrespect or disunity irrespective of the expresser’s motives – hence the original Dixie Chicks flap; hence opposition to flag burning. But many if not most people also object to extreme measures taken by their government under a cover of patriotism; many are riled by the mere name of the Patriot Act and are deeply suspicious of the expansions of powers it confers and the concomitant limitations of freedom it implies.

And many are disgusted by the arrogance of the power takers.

Does that make them unpatriotic? In the eyes of many neocons, I think it does. Many are proud to call the questioner unpatriotic, to accuse them of aiding the enemy. Some approve of the power takers… Some want to be power takers themselves.

My country right or wrong… But never right or left… Right only…

Uber-patriots… Like Hitler or McVeigh? Perhaps like them before they were utterly consumed by their patriotism…

The entire country doesn’t disagree with you Natalie. I agree with you. Patriotism is only as good as the individual; often, it’s a brightly lit path to the dark side. It’s a sometimes necessary evil – which means if it isn’t necessary, it’s just evil. It’s a good way to justify evil deeds – extreme uses of power by Nations or individual men. Extremes that always have the same result: The diminishment of that most American of attributes, liberty.

Think about that, the next time the patriot calls…

Patriotism is in part an acknowledgement that your individual existence isn't entirely of your own making. It is understanding that some wish you ill, and that some stand between those illwishers and you, even at personal risk. It is appreciation of those who stand up for you.
Let the Dixie Twits take their act to Afghanistan and see how far they get.
"Patriotism is in part an acknowledgement that your individual existence isn't entirely of your own making." That's a good point, Walter. I do think that gets by the Dixie Chicks.

But this points up the fact that patriotism, like love, can't really be defined.

As for the rest of it, I'd have to say that's more respect for the military as a longstanding organization than patriotism...
It is what they do, not who they are, that sets the military aside.
You say nothing at all about their music ... what do you think of the country-pop feel of "Taking The Long Way?"
I know nothing about their music, Freethinker. I believe I have heard one - and only one - of their songs.

Im an unreconstructed hippie with a taste for music running to the nostalgic: Give me The Beattles, The Who, Led Zepplin... You get the idea.
In its best sense, patriotism is both worldliness, and the realization that you share the unique values of your nation, apart from the rest of the world.

I once read that even in some of darkest days of repression in the old Soviet Union, one could fly in an Aeroflot from Europe to Moscow, and that as soon as the plane would enter Russian airspace, passengers would break down and cry, so glad to be home again in their motherland.

Pity the people so shallow that they do not have such feelings for their nation. They never matured enough to see beyond their neighborhood, and are so wrapped up in themselves that they do not see their reflection in their countrymen.

And this, too, is the failure of internationalization. The foolish notion that values can (or even should) be standardized, sacrificing deeply-held beliefs, traditions and culture on the altar of generic, empty and tasteless conformity and bureaucratic gesture.

We are not reduced by patriotism, indeed, we are increased by it, so that in pride we may not only say that we are "human", with God-given rights, or hold up our association with our family as those we respect, admire and love; but we may also say that we hold our countrymen in high regard.

That we intend to respect our social contract with them, and they likewise will do so with us. And this is where "sacrifice" enters into the picture.

What but patriotism causes others to so freely give of themselves after 9-11 or the Katrina disaster? It is more than just a few idle dollars thrown to some nameless charity in their direction.

It is people who drive across the country to help those they have never met, because they are their countrymen.

Our greatest politicians are those that rally us to the call of patriotism. For good or ill, it is a unifying force, a mission for the entire nation, a national purpose because only the nation as a whole can meet that purpose.

It is in such times that you see those who sneer at patriotism. That they do so out of spite, or cowardice, feeling of personal inadequacy, or downright hatred does not matter. It shows them to be lesser people, people who are missing solidarity with those with whom they should share their lives.

People who cannot imagine anything greater than their own petty gratification. Filled with bile against those who own what cannot be purchased.
The Chicks have decided the arrogant road is the best road most traveled by celebrities. They will have plenty of fans on the coasts. Of course, they'll have to stop singing country.

As for Protest U, I'm sure it's a fine college. The one visit I had there was as a visiting swimmer for districts. Never seen so many hippies boycotting everything before. We got a kick out of it.
You know, I think patriotism is one of those words that many people might have hard time agreeing what it IS, but could probably reach a consensus more readily about what it ISNT.

Could everyone agree Patriotism means standing behind the foreign policy of your country in time of war, whether or not you believe the war is the right course? Some might, but you would hardly have any consensus on that.

Could everyone agree that standing against your countries foreign policy in time of war, not because you disagree with it, but for partisan reasons is unpatriotic? I think you would have quite a consensus on that one, it most assuredly is.

There are elements of the second example out there that you touch on in your post. While they aren’t strictly foreign policy, I see valid reasons to understand conservatives real issues with some of them.

For example – you state, “many are riled by the mere name of the Patriot Act and are deeply suspicious of the expansions of powers it confers”. While I think that some who are concerned about Patriot do come so from a place of genuine worry, I think that is the minority of some of the loudest voices on the left. There was no concern when Clinton was doing very similar things under the Echelon and Magic Lantern programs, the 1000 FBI files that just popped up in the White House or the use of the military to enforce a search warrant at Waco. Indeed those who now have such concern over Patriot cackled about the black helicopter crowd during the Clinton years

It seems reasonable to ask, why is the concern expressed only now? It seems a reasonable assumption that there is quite often no deep concern, only partisanship. Partisanship when it comes to purely political matters is all well and good, if distasteful. Partisanship when it comes to security directly related to conducting a war is something I think most would say is not patriotic
I think patriotism has been addressed in the abstract philosophical sense.

But I've yet to find someone who objects to the Patriot Act that is willing to admit that they've actually read it, or any of the legal analyses of it. All I've ever found is kneejerk reaction. (Can you say 'reactionary'? I thought you could.)

But that aside, to the first part of the piece: Evergreen College Commencement. Envision these same people, cavorting around like a troop of macaques drunk on rotting breadfruit, six months from now. They're teaching your kids in grade school. Organizing the purchasing program for your local library. Running a youth group.

Three years from now, they're your lawyer, your CPA, your architect.

Five years from now they're your doctor, your dentist.

Seven years from now, you're driving across a suspension bridge they designed. They're your cardiologist.

These same people who in their 20's were acting like thirdgraders who'd gotten into the vodka.

I for one am going to be a lot more careful about checking diplomas on the wall from now on.

And Possum, that you identify yourself as one of these knuckledraggers is . . . enlightening . . .
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