Why Patriotism? Why Today?

Unless you live at the bottom of a well, if you are a U.S. citizen, you know that today marks the tenth anniversary of the attacks of “9/11.” There’s been so much hyperbole leading up to this anniversary, with local events, television specials, etc., all serving to remind everyone in earshot, “We will not forget.” Well, we seem to forget quite a bit where this country is concerned. And this blog post probably won’t be very popular, today of all days. But this blog isn’t all that popular to begin with so it’s not like I’m shooting myself in the foot here.

We forget the crimes against humanity that the U.S. has visited upon the peoples — often innocents — of other nations. The media has everyone whipped into a frenzy over this Tenth Anniversary. Personally, I believe what happened on September 11, 2001, was an atrocity. I’ve always believed that. But it is no more, or no less, an atrocity than anything we’ve done to, for example, the people of Viet Nam, Africa, Iraq, Japan, Yuguslavia, Central America, etc., etc., etc. It is a cause for remembrance, to be sure. But not of the things being remembered. What we should remember, and not forget, is that this country is imperfect, but dangerously so, because it believes itself to be invincible. And patriotism of this kind is dangerous because it isn’t really patriotism. It’s nationalism disguised as patriotism.

And I am acutely aware that it this accident of my birth that allows me to sit here in the comfort of my nice home, with a solid and fast internet connection and a very nice computer system, and post this article, an article which some might label as “anti-American.” It is “anti-imperialist” if it is anything. I’ll leave you with a few choice quotes on the topic of patriotism.

[V]oice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

~~ Hermann Goering, in an interview with Nuremberg prison psychologist G.M. Gilbert, 1947.

Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.

~~ Emma Goldberg

If people would but understand that they are not the sons of some fatherland or other, nor of Governments, but are sons of God, and can therefore neither be slaves nor enemies one to another — those insane, unnecessary, worn-out, pernicious organizations called Governments, and all the sufferings, violations, humiliations, and crimes which they occasion, would cease.

~~ Leo Tolstoy, May 1900

But American Labor Leader Eugene Debs said it best:

I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.

~~ Eugene Debs

Further Reading

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