[Guest post by DRJ]
Thoughts on the intersection between American patriotism and dissent that I’ve added to my “I With I’d Thought of That” file …
“So, Jonah, here’s the problem I have all too often with the “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” line. Patriotism, as I see it, is love of country—an actually-existing, historically grounded, geographical, political, and social entity. It’s not uncritical, it’s not unwilling to acknowledge flaws or misdeeds, but it’s a fundamental attachment to an entity, a place, a thing, a group of people, and in the case of America, of course, a set of ideals enshrined in our founding documents.
The “dissent” school seems to acknowledge love not of the actual country, but the Country of the Future, once all the flaws are fixed, which is not only utopian but utterly quixotic, since no group of human beings can ever organize themselves in a fashion without problems. Moreover, it’s a very subjective standard. You’re dissenting on whatever the hell problem is your own hobby horse. Feminist A is upset about the state of women and is patriotically “dissenting”; Klansman B is upset about the state of white folk, and in his mind, he’s equally patriotic in his “dissent.” There isn’t a hell of a lot in the “dissent” principle that can distinguish the two. A historically-grounded analysis says the feminist is (perhaps) appealing to American ideals of equality while the Klansman is appealing to an ugly tradition of anti-black bigotry, but neither are, in any real sense, showing their love of country. The former may be offering a constructive criticism, the other clearly is proposing a destructive one, but both are equally ideological and neither is expressing a love of America qua America, but rather a love of what they think America should be.
While that’s a grand American tradition, I don’t think it’s patriotism. *** The great, truly patriotic reformers of American history have the country for what it is despite its flaws, which they dedicated themselves to amending.”
H/T all those loopy, petty university-educated intellectuals who hate America as it is.
UPDATE: Armed Liberal at WindsOfChange.net has been saying the same thing for awhile.