Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Is patriotism misguided?

This afternoon I have some time on my hands, the first in quite a while during a weekday, and I have been catching up on e-mails and so on. Friends in Houston and Atlanta have been sending me political PoVs for some time but the latest transcends all others. While I won't be discussing it here, the link is worth following (Clinton vs the Neo-Cons and Fox news). So please come back after you've viewed the "show".

What this exchange got me thinking about was my subject line: is patriotism misguided?

When America goes to war, even an unjust, silly, stupid, war, its citizens tend to fall in behind the leadership and give huge support even though they may not agree with or understand the political issues. I guess this stems from the fact that the Federal Government is supposed to have very limited powers (Ha!) and one of them is to secure the borders against foreign aggression. Also, the government is so often aided and abetted by a media that fails to fully inform and educate the electorate.

So, warmongers and hawks have worked out that a war against a foreign aggressor is probably going to get that partiotic support. Which is almost certainly why they set out to do what they do. The entire operation is masked by statements like "we must support our troops", "it would be unpatriot not to support our boys in the war effort" and so on. Yellow ribbons are sold and bought by the mile. The flag, as always a powerful symbol of nation building, is brought into play and with hand on heart the politicians lead the soldiers into war. Except they (the politicians) stay behind to keep the fires of partiotism stoked while young soldiers die on foreign soil.

So where does all this patriotism get us? Well, the first stage has already arrived - disillusionment. The government's popularity is down the toilet, it's single minded attitude toward the war on terror has meant neglect to the economy, a weakened dollar and a lowering of the political standing of the nation on the world's stage.

I don't necessarily subscribe to my friends' belief that Bush is stupid (he has significant paper qualifications to suggest otherwise) but I do think that the Neo-Cons he is guided by are following a twisted and cynical agenda that cannot possibly achieve its objectives. And while we pile up a wall of hatred in the world of Islam, we are also degrading that sense of patriotism at home that should be such a positive influence.

In short, patriotism should not be invoked by politicians to support their misguided agendas. We shouldn't let them get away with it.