Monday, May 15, 2006

Is "Patriotism" a Bad Word

It is a question I ask myself ever more frequently. The thought arose again this week at Heartland Men's Chorus rehearsal. We are singing a song that has some "patriotic" phrases, "those loving liberty", "those who fight in war", "these are the brave, protecting freedom's shore"...etc. Why does this bother me?

I did some soul searching and came to the conclusion it is because "patriotism", "liberty", "freedom" have been totally perverted by those in the current political regime. These words, in my mind, are now synonymous with the "you are with us or against us" mentality of the Bushians. The "USA Patriot Act", nothing more than an excuse to spy on enemies real or imagined. My neighbor was talking to me on the phone and her husband interrupted "quit calling him, Bush will get suspicious". More true than we may want to believe.

To these sad excuses for people, patriotism and all that means "America right or wrong, or else you are a 'turrerist'" as Bush would say. Dissent is to be un-patriotic and thus also hate liberty and freedom, apple pie, Chevrolet and hotdogs. To question our "leaders" leads them to question your right to be an American.

I happen to believe I can be critical of the US policy and the leaders who took power in the coup of 2000 and the rigged elections of 2004. I happen to believe that the war in Iraq is wrong, that it was wrong to invade and that we were lied to. I happen to believe our fundamental freedoms are being chipped away and that if given a chance this regime would enshrine bigotry in the Constitution. Believing or thinking the opposite does NOT make me hate the USA and love the "turrerists".

I happen to love the USA; it is a beautiful country with industrious, intelligent people who have made this whole world a better place. I do not, however, believe everything we do is right and our prerequisite. To some that makes me "unpatriotic". I disagree, they are the ones destroying our land, stifling liberty and closing "freedom's shore".

Just as we have to wrestle religion away from the far Right, we have to battle for patriotism.

Question what is going on, oppose what you feel is wrong, let them know you disagree. THAT is Liberty... THAT is patriotism when you are trying to restore a country's reputation.

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