June 17, 2024
You can't love America without loving Americans — and neither of our political tribes seems capable of being content with a country in which the other exists.
Members of the boy scouts carry an American flag during the Independence Day Parade in Independence, Iowa, July 4, 2011.
Members of the boy scouts carry an American flag during the Independence Day Parade in Independence, Iowa, July 4, 2011.

Is patriotism possible?

Is it possible for, say, Robert Francis O’Rourke? The Dave Matthews Band of Democratic presidential candidates put this into writing: “This country was founded on racism, has persisted through racism, and is racist today.” If by patriotism we mean simply to indicate love of country, would it be unfair to ask: How could a man of conscience love such a country? O’Rourke here is neither writing about the state nor any particular administration nor any of our nation’s many episodic failures to live up to its own ideals, but about the nation per se.

One cannot love a hateful country the way one might love a racist uncle in spite of his shortcomings, because the love of country cannot survive the contempt and condescension one unavoidably feels toward doddering old men who should have learned better by now but are too old to be taught. You might cut your dotty uncle some slack, but love of country assumes a certain minimum of respect for it and confidence in it that are precluded by the kind of eye-rolling indulgence that in the South is accompanied by the exclamation “Bless your heart!”

If you believed, as Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib believe, that the United States is fundamentally wicked, a force for injustice and oppression at home and abroad, and that this was not the result of ordinary human failure but by design, how could you in good conscience love such a country? If you believed, as Bernie Sanders and Patrick J. Buchanan do, that the United States is an oppressive empire, and that this empire must be disbanded, that it is a cultivator of “undemocratic, repressive regimes, which torture, jail and deny basic rights to their citizens,” as Senator Sanders put it, how could you love it? Not aspects of it — not the Grand Canyon, or the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches — but the whole thing itself?

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See Also:

(1) A Buffet Table of Bad Options for Anti-Trump Conservatives in 2020

(2) The Role of Values in Foreign Policy

(3) Why won’t Dems slam their anti-Semitic fellow congresswomen?

(4) We Must Say No to the 1619 Project in Schools

(5) A Political Party Stupid Enough to Call You a Racist Is Too Stupid to Govern