Tag Archives: Religion and patriotism

Loving this scrappy land

July 3, 2011

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I admit it. I’ll be a sap on July 4th, sniveling for Old Glory with my hand over my heart while the fireworks boom. I love this lumbering giant called America, which I’m still convinced can be a force for good despite its colossal mistakes. So I’m patriotic. So arrest me.

“Patriotism” is a sizzling word. It sears and blisters and roars with flames and fuels temperamental fire in normally affable souls. They’ll quote from the cynical cavalcade. Samuel Johnson: patriotism is “the last refuge of the scoundrel;” George Bernard Shaw: “Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.” We imagine flag-draped demigods branding their opponents as “un-American,” with the rivals unwittingly playing into their hands when they snub patriotism’s validity and, despite their disclaimers, portray the United States as the most militaristic and narcissistic empire ever to chew up freedom-lovers. They itemize the Native American slaughter, slavery, racism, CIA-propped banana republics and the Vietnam “quagmire.” All so true and terrible, but who else triple-rescued Europe (World War 1, World War 2, the Marshal Plan) and contained the Soviet Union – which really was an “evil empire,” impolitic though the phrase may be?

You’re welcome.

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