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True Patriotism Is The Opposite of Jingoism

by Paul H. Rosenberg Saturday, Sep. 22, 2001 at 1:00 AM
rad@gte.net

Time and again it's been the dissidents among us, those most likely to be mislabeled "un-American," who've been the true patriots and done the most to make America a light unto the world. Now is no different. It's no time to be on the defensive, when we represent the best of America, and America's best chance for peace, justice and security.

error
True Patriotism:
   The Opposite of Jingoism
      By Paul Rosenberg, IMC-LA reporter.
  True patriotism differs from jingoism the same way that healthy parental love differs from the sick obsession of parents who live their broken, frustrated dreams through their children. Time and again it's been the dissidents among us, those most likely to be mislabeled "un-American," who've been the true patriots and done the most to make America a light unto the world. Now is no different, as we seek to articulate a solution that goes beyond war to eradicate terrorism at its roots.
Beyond War: Eradicating Terrorism At Its Roots, With Justice For All
True Patriotism

       In the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there has been a momentous upsurge of patriotisman upsurge that some on the right have been anxious to claim for themselves.



Patriotism is something quite distinct from jingoism.


       But patriotism is something quite distinct from jingoism. They differ in much the same way that healthy parental love differs from the sick obsession of parents who live their broken, frustrated dreams through their children, even to the point of beating up refs who make calls they don't like in their kids' after-school games. These self-obsessed parents really believe that such sadism is a badge of loverather than its exact opposite. They're so far removed from any genuine experience of love that any sufficiently intense emotion can serve them as a substitute. And when it comes to pure intensity, what could possibly be better than hate?


Hate is hate and love is love. Jingoism is hate and patriotism is love.


       This surely explains the behavior of one Frank Silva Roque, a 42-year-old Mesa, Arizona man who went on minority-shooting rampage four days after the terrorist attack. "I am a patriot," he reportedly screamed when police tried to arrest him. The only person he managed to kill was a Sikh of Indian descentnot even remotely related to the suspected terrorists. Such is the indiscriminate hate that calls itself "love of country," and would claim the mantel of patriotism. But it's not. Not even when its aim is better. Hate is hate and love is love. Jingoism is hate and patriotism is love.



In America true patriotism is much more than simply a love of community or land or people like oneself.

The true American patriot has always been "un-American" in the jealous, hateful eyes of the American jingoist.


       But in America true patriotism is much more than simply a love of community or land or people like oneselfbecause America is fundamentally about something much more profound, which has called its vast community of outwardly dissimilar citizens and residents together. America is a set of idealsimperfectly realized from the very beginning, to be sure, but a set of remarkable, inspiring ideals nonetheless: liberty and justice for all; all menand womenare created equal; government by the consent of the governed; the right to think, and speak, and worship as your conscience dictates; freedom from arbitrary and unwarranted search and seizure of one's propertythese and other ideals of human liberty, justice and dignity have drawn people from every corner of the earth together to become one peopleAmericans. And time and again it has been the dissidents among us, those most likely to be mislabeled "un-American," who have been responsible for identifying and eradicating the tragic gulfs between our highest ideals and our flawed practice. It's been "un-Americans" black and white who've lead centuries of struggle against white supremacy, "un-Americans" female and male who've lead centuries of struggle against male supremacy, "un-Americans" native and foreign born who've lead centuries of struggle against nativism, xenophobia and immigrant-bashing. The true American patriot has always been "un-American" in the jealous, hateful eyes of the American jingoist.


In times of crisis, jingoist and patriot can both coexist within a single breast, struggling against each other.


       Now is no different. Except that in times of crisis, jingoist and patriot can both coexist within a single breast, struggling against each other. Which one emerges victorious may well determine the fate of our nation, whether it will live or die: live in human liberty, justice and dignity, or die in "security," retribtution, and the shameful might of weapons of mass destruction unleashed to mass-produce more terrorists than anyone can count. Make no mistake, America at its best is the light of the world. We alone can put that light out. Or preserve it.


Those of us on the left must be unashamed to call ourselves what we aretrue American patriots.


       Those of us on the left, who have arguably the strongest tradition of true American patriotism often struggle in a different mannermistakenly accepting the labels that jingoists have forced on us again, and again and again. We cannot afford that luxury now. We must be unashamed to call ourselves what we aretrue American patriots. (This is not an exclusive claim, for the true America is inherently inclusive of any and all comers.) For our fellow Americans who struggle with themselvespart patriot, part jingoistneed us now as profoundly as ever they have before. We should not unjustly yield our power to jingoist sentiments in our political leaders. They are not our primary concern. We must be who were are, be true American patriots, for sake of our fellow citizens alone. And if we do that, then as always before, the people will lead and the leaders will follow.



What should be our goal? Simply put: A solution that goes beyond war to eradicate terrorism at its roots.


              What should be our goal? Simply put: A solution that goes beyond war to eradicate terrorism at its roots.
          This means eliminating the objective sources of grievances on which terror is fed.

           It means eradicating the persistent poverty, misery and hopelessness which engulf untold millions around the world.

           It means empowering people to reshape the institutions that in turn shape their lives, so that "consent of the governed" applies to treaties between nations and to the otherwise ungoverned market in which the fate of nations is bought and sold electronically a thousand times a day.

           It means treating terrorists as common criminals, and not playing into their game of elevating them to the status of "Holy Warriors."

           It means strengthening and relying on international humanitarian law, not militarism, which indiscriminately kills guilty and innocent alike.

           It means deep-sixing our whole retro, left-over Cold War military agenda, from Star Wars on down, which is utterly irrelevant for responding to the real threats of the 21st century, and instead devoting the money and resources to building a world where war and terrorism are simply in nobody's interest.

           It means taking narrowly-targeted, common-sense precautions to enhance security, rather than using momentary panic as an excuse to decimate our freedoms.

           It means setting a good example by housecleaning our own covert horrors, which have done so much to spawn hatred of us around the world, rather than giving the CIA the green light to go out and make a whole new generation of bitter enemies for us.

           It means having faith in the best of our ideals, rather than just giving them lipservice as a justification for out-terrorizing the terrorists with our superior fire-power.

           It means really relying on international rule of law, and hanging up our six-guns for good.


It's time to put away childish things.


              "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." 1 Corinthians 13:11. It's time for America to grow up, to stop indulging itself in its dark side and its failure to live up to its highest ideals. It's time to put away childish things.


Paul Rosenberg is a freelance writer and member of IMC-LA's website workgroup.

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first comment! jk Saturday, Sep. 22, 2001 at 5:36 AM
Thanks, Paul Marconi Saturday, Sep. 22, 2001 at 2:46 PM
Say it, Paul! Larry George Saturday, Sep. 22, 2001 at 10:26 PM
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