Patriotism- more harm than good?

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by Mitre, Aug 7, 2002.

  1. Mitre

    Mitre New Member

    In light of events that have been transpiring, and in light of those that have, with mixed fortune, come to pass in generations since this nation's founding, I'm beginning to firmly believe that patriotism in the world at large has been doing far more harm than good, especially in this country. After all, since 9/11, the embracement and unequivocal zeal embodied in phrases like "God Bless America" and "Beacon of Freedom in the World" have led many passionate citizens to justify American actions abroad and at home, which many nations, particularly in tradionally friendly Europe, have come to criticize.
    After all, is there any difference between telling a future terrorist at an Al-Qaeda training camp or a Pakistani madrasa that God wants Americans to be killed because they're infidels ( a gross distortion of the values and role of religion) and telling a soldier in training at a US Army base that his country wants him to kill the enemy because he loves his country and American freedom is at stake (which is a often gross distortion of the consequences of the failure to achieve a desired political outcome)? Is there a difference in telling a Palestinian teenager to strap a bomb to himself and walk into a pizza parlor because the Israelis stole his father's land and telling an Israeli soldier to go kill Palestinians because they want to destroy Israel?
    Does "loving" your country mean going out to wave a flag and then standing mute while your president wants to invade another country because he has nothing better to do except spitting out rhetoric that "American lives are potentially at stake here"?
    Don't get me wrong, I respect the military because I believe that it's their job to defend those who can't defend themselves. That's not a job I would take lightly at all. Yet, I don't believe that it's their job to invade another country on the supposition that it has the capability of harming people pre facto.
    Does loving your country mean you have to distiguish between how many Americans are killed in an incident and how many foreigners or "others" were killed also? Does this mean you have to hold your fellow American's life more dear than some dirt poor immigrant from Tibet? Does being patriotic mean saying that American interests are more important than some other country's or group of countries interests?
    Don't borders change? Aren't the lines that we surround are pieces of dirt with just sets of infinite dimensionless Euclidean points? Haven't humans gotten over them yet?
     
  2. bigsmooth

    bigsmooth New Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Washington, DC
    I don't know if patriotism is inherently more bad than good, but in this country, it very often presents the big problem of being defined as blind conformity to do, support whatever this country's leaders say needs to be done, i.e. dissent = treason, "my country right or wrong" = true (and for some, the only accepted form of) patriotism.
    You could get some great responses if you tried to draw a distinction between patriotism and nationalism, patriotism and jingoism, etc., and opened up the parameters of the debate more -- not that you won't get some great ones with your current thread, but I have a feeling that if people respond they'll take the "patriotism" concept into these related ideas.
     
  3. Auriaprottu

    Auriaprottu Member+

    Atlanta Damn United FC USOpenCup Champions
    Apr 1, 2002
    The back of the bus
    Club:
    Atlanta
    Nat'l Team:
    --other--
    No.

    In the eyes of the masses...yes, yes, and yes.

    Yes, yes, and hell, no.
     
  4. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    OH
    Patriotism is an indefensible, undemocratic, and irrational love for something that doesn't even "exist" in any concrete way.

    After all, when one says "I love my country," what is it he has in mind as the object of love?

    - the actual earth, geography?
    - political figures?
    - "the people?" (but then, ALL the people? some?)

    This is why nations are now referred to by historians and poltical philosophers as "imagined communites."

    But it doesn't sound too sexy to say, "I love my particular imagined community," or worse, "Son, are you ready to die for this imagined community?!"

    "Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori"

    Of course, patriotism is also directly counter to the whole point of democracy, in that it is based on "love" which, as we all know, is inherently irrational. Democracy, on the other hand, comes directly out of the Enlightenment as a system of governance based on the idea that man's reasoning faculties would be better than emotional ties to things like churches or kings. Give up your reasoning (and we all do this when in love) and you've given up your ability as a democratic citizen.
     
  5. thepremierleague

    Mar 14, 2001
    London
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    Whenever I hear these phrases I cringe.
     
  6. mactheknife

    mactheknife New Member

    Aug 2, 2002
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    more harm then good? yes.

    does patriotism mean something different than it did september 10th? yes.
     
  7. TheWakeUpBomb

    TheWakeUpBomb Member

    Mar 2, 2000
    New York, NY
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    This is crap. Go to a country like Slovenia, and you'll see people that love their country, that take an immense amount of pride in their country. They're patriots. Many people have amazing stories of the events which led to their independence, stories in which they played a vital role. Their eyes light up, and you can see a real love for their country. "Imagined community", indeed.

    I suppose the East Timorese are just being irrational, too. Please tell them they shouldn't feel patriotic.

    And someone get a message to Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar that her love of country is misplaced and indefensible.
     
  8. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    OH
    Wake,

    First of all, some types of patriotism are certainly useful (and perhaps temporarily desirable) for independence movements against autoritarian regimes.

    Abstract concepts like freedom, self-detmination, justice, etc., ARE worth dying for, but it's tough to get people to die for abstract nouns. So we give them a narrative, a story, with heros and villians and so on, and we tie all those abstract ideas up in the story, and then we call it a "nation."
     
  9. Pigs

    Pigs Member

    Everton FC
    England
    Mar 31, 2001
    Everywhere and nowhere
    Club:
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    Re: Re: Patriotism- more harm than good?

    I think Patriotism is good for a country. But when people get blinded by it, then it's not.
     
  10. verybdog

    verybdog New Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Houyhnhnms
    I think when patriotism is about loving the history, loving the culture, loving the people around you, loving the physical landscapes of your homeland, loving the government, loving the language, loving the tradition, etc. then it's good; but if patriotism is about my history is longer than yours, my culture is superior than yours, my language is advanced than yours, my way of government is better than yours, my people is samrter than your people, my tradition is richer than your tradition, etc. then patriotism is not good or harmful.

    So after 9/11 the patriotism is good because America was attacked and people expressed their love for the country. But now, using patriotism to attack another country because their leader is not in line with your standard, then I am not sure.
     
  11. obie

    obie New Member

    Nov 18, 1998
    NY, NY
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    There's a difference between American patriotism and patriotism in virtually any other country on the planet. When patriotism comes complete with a huge military (and a propensity to use it) and wealth, it can scare the daylights out of anybody else.

    Here's an analogy: Anybody remember David Duke's National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP)? The general consensus among the public who thought about it for a couple of minutes was that the NAAWP was a stupid idea because white people were relatively doing quite well already -- we've got more money and power than anybody else on the planet, so why do we need a support group? US patriotism is, I'd think, viewed in much the same way by other cultures and countries: an unnecessary show of pride and power.

    Patriotism is, for most of the world, rallying the masses to celebrate their strengths and keep themselves proud of who they are. For the US, patriotism is about flaunting the fact that we're Americans. While we may talk about patriotism as "freedom" and "liberty" and "equality", for whatever reason that's not the message that gets received by many others. The message received is a flaunting of strength and wealth, which just pisses a lot of people off because of either morals or jealousy or whatever.
     
  12. TheWakeUpBomb

    TheWakeUpBomb Member

    Mar 2, 2000
    New York, NY
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    If you really feel that way, that's just sad. It's no wonder you don't "get" US patriotism. What about celebrating the things that make America great? What's wrong with that? Celebrating the good, remembering the bad, all the things that make us uniquely American.

    Some of you seem so blinded by guilt that you can't for a minute feel good about your citizenship in this country.

    I'm not suggesting "My country right or wrong", but some of you have staked out equally extreme territory on the opposite side of the fence.

    You can't control what other people infer. Lots of people don't like the United States for lots of reasons. That's not going to stop me from feeling patriotic about my country.
     
  13. Colin Grabow

    Colin Grabow New Member

    Jul 22, 1999
    Washington, DC
    Not quite sure I follow. Does this mean that we are not allowed to be patriotic?

    What do you base that on?

    But -- at the risk of sounding trite -- isn't that their problem? I'm just not sure that our patriotism should be held hostage to the perceptions or misperceptions of others.

    I think that the most patriotic place I have ever been isn't the US, it's actually Norway. And after attending DC United games on a fairly regular basis I am convinced that every Salvadoran owns at least 2 3 by 5 flags. I just don't see why Americans shouldn't be allowed to display the same love of country simply because we have a large military or whatever.
     
  14. 1a Schnitzel

    1a Schnitzel Member

    Jun 3, 2002
    Lisboa
    Club:
    Borussia Dortmund
    Nat'l Team:
    Portugal
    The funny irony to the story is that usually especially those that shout: " I am proud of my country" deserve the response "yeah, but your country is not proud of you".

    Patriotism is nothing bad. It fosters you sense of feeling at home (especially in those days of globalisation) and secondly it creates a healthy competition where there is none (sports, industries, culture, science).

    What is dangerous are the three sons of patriotism: isolation, ignorance, self-overestimation.
     
  15. Pigs

    Pigs Member

    Everton FC
    England
    Mar 31, 2001
    Everywhere and nowhere
    Club:
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    I agree with you.

    It isn't jealousy though, patriotism shown by most is interpreted as a show of arrogance.

    You get poor people in the US talking about how they are the biggest economy, and how the standard of living is so high, how it is the greatest nation, and how the US could kick any other countries ass. (It not hard to find these people, you just have to log into an average internet message board.)

    That is what pisses people off because it is a load of shite. The US has the biggest economy in the world....that is a fact. But when someone starts telling everyone about how great the US is, then it doesn't become a fact. Fact is that the highest standard of living when considering freedom, employement, crime, health system etc by the United Nations is in Norway. The US doesn't get into the Top five. But you will get patriotic Americans who probably live in a shitty part of town telling people from other countries how great they are......that is what pisses people off, and that is when patriotism becomes bad.

    The Internet has changed my opinion on America, because I generally didn't know that so many people where so arrogant. (Although I take it into account that these people are just doing this to make them feel better because their life is shit).
     
  16. 1a Schnitzel

    1a Schnitzel Member

    Jun 3, 2002
    Lisboa
    Club:
    Borussia Dortmund
    Nat'l Team:
    Portugal
    Hey, I would say it is switzerland. Our income is about 1/3 higher than europes average! :D
     
  17. bigsmooth

    bigsmooth New Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Washington, DC
    I think the concept of patriotism, love of/for country, etc. takes on a different tone depending on your perception of how much a part of your country you feel, something which can vary depending on one's religion, race/ethnicity, color, social/class/caste status, etc.
    So the issue of "minority populations" and how they are treated always is a factor in defining patriotism and definitely in terms of fostering feelings of loyalty or conversely a feeling of disconnect from the larger society and a sense of being "the other."
    So as it relates to the U.S., it goes to the question of who is "American" -- people born here, people who have legal residency here, people of certain accepted racial/ethnic/religious groups? It's a very relevant question for the U.S. given current events.
     
  18. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    OH
    Wake, Colin, et al,

    The point is not that patriotism is good or bad. The point is that is an entirely bankrupt philosophical idea. There's no "there" there, in other words. When someone claims to be a "patriot," no matter what country he is talking about, one has NO idea of knowing what that person means by it.

    He loves "liberty?"
    He "supports his troops?"
    He like baseball and apple pie?
    He worships the US Constitution like a bible?
    He is a career dissident, always challenging those in power?
    He has a "flag" sticker on his bumper?
    He "buys American?
    He feels worse when he hears of 3 children dying in a house fire in his hometown than when 25 children are mutilated in religious violence in Kashmir?

    Someone could claim to be a patriot based on any/all of these claims, and a million more. And this is why it's such an easy thing to call someone "unpatriotic" when you disagree with them. There's no way to prove/disprove that you are a "patriot" since it depends on each person's idea of what the term "nation" means in the first place. And this idea is perpetually in the process of being defined and redefined by the culture industry, politicians, historians, and others.

    So temporarily, during an independence struggle, you can often get many people to agree for a little while on "what story we want our idea of our nation to tell," and thus this can serve as a unifying force (as Obie rightly points out). But the tricky thing is to know when to discard the notion soon after independence...a very difficult thing to do. Thus you end up with Stalin able to exploit the myth of "Mother Russia" and so on.
     
  19. TheWakeUpBomb

    TheWakeUpBomb Member

    Mar 2, 2000
    New York, NY
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Obie's point seemed to be that American patriotism is bad.

    Well, its obvious some people disgree with you.

    Just ask them.

    I can apply the same test to the concept of love. I love good eastern North Carolina barbeque. I love it. But not in the same way I love my mother. And not in the same way I love college football. And not in the same way someone else loves GM cars. Does that mean that one or the other is invalid? No.



    Just like people tend to toss around the word "racist" or "homophobe" when someone disagrees with them. There obviously aren't hard and fast rules for all of these things. Does that mean there are no racists? Just as "patriotism" can mean different things, so can "unpatriotic".
     
  20. Maczebus

    Maczebus New Member

    Jun 15, 2002
    Well done, I really do think you've hit the nail on the head with this.

    Certain posters on here might not like to believe this but I would say it accurately reflects the concensus of opinion this side of the Atlantic. And this is "traditionally friendly Europe" we're talking about.

    The same posters seemingly can't see the difference between being patriotic and flaunting that patriotism, sometimes to the point of rubbing it in others faces.
    It's not a bad thing to be proud of your country, but I guess it's a question of how it's done.
     
  21. Colin Grabow

    Colin Grabow New Member

    Jul 22, 1999
    Washington, DC
    Yes, this is what it all comes down to, and it goes beyond just Americans. I don't begrudge a German for waving the German flag, but when they're also singing Deutschland ueber alles it's a whole different story.

    Wearing a shirt that resembles the American flag is no big deal, but wearing a shirt that says, "We could vaporize your country with a snap of Dubya's fingers" isn't real smart.
     
  22. TheWakeUpBomb

    TheWakeUpBomb Member

    Mar 2, 2000
    New York, NY
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    I do see the difference.

    But here is what obie said:

    For the US, patriotism is about flaunting the fact that we're Americans.

    Seems to me he's saying that all US patriotism is flaunting that patriotism. I certainly don't see that as the case.
     
  23. obie

    obie New Member

    Nov 18, 1998
    NY, NY
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I agree with you that it's "their problem", but it ultimately does become our problem as well when others act on their ideas about America. If there's somebody deranged walking around with a grenade belt under his jacket, we don't have the liberty of saying that we're superior because of the Bill of Rights. We have to deal with the grenades.

    And, whether we agree with it or not, Islamic militants use American arrogance and hegemony as a justification of their actions against American interests. Heck, even our allies were asking if we really deserved 9/11. Were they asking if we deserved it because of our liberty, freedom, and good apple pie? No, they were asking because of our (a) military and economic strength, (b) our unending desire to let everyone know that we're strong and rich and free and all that entails, and (c) our complete incredulity with anyone who doesn't think that being the strongest and richest and most free country in the world is so damn fabulous.

    Then you didn't get my point. Read this sentence from my original post: "US patriotism is, I'd think, viewed in much the same way by other cultures and countries: an unnecessary show of pride and power." Nothing in there about patriotism being bad.

    If internationally-distributed pictures of Americans waving US flags on the 4th of July as a sign of patriotism had little thought bubbles over the flag-waver's head that showed "I love our freedom of speech and religion laws", maybe we wouldn't have this problem. Instead, people see that flag-waver, combine it with what they know about the US (from imported TV they most likely think that were sex-crazed, murder-happy zillionaires), and think that we are celebrating that ideal. We have a global public image problem that our signs of patriotism perpetuate, not ameliorate.
     
  24. obie

    obie New Member

    Nov 18, 1998
    NY, NY
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm heartened by the fact that the non-US people here are getting my point.

    For the others, let's try another analogy: How many of you hate watching Yankee fans shove their faces into TV cameras in October, yelling "WE'RE #1, BABY!!!" after their team wins their 368th consecutive pennant (or whatever the hell number they're up to now)? Or hate Man U fans gloating over their $60 million payroll team taking home another trophy while everyone else in the FA is going bankrupt?

    Whether we agree with it or not, that's how lots of American patriotism is perceived abroad. There's a reason why Australians rooted so hard against Americans at the Sydney 2000 games: people are sick of the US acting like winners at every opportunity.
     
  25. TheWakeUpBomb

    TheWakeUpBomb Member

    Mar 2, 2000
    New York, NY
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    But you also said:

    For the US, patriotism is about flaunting the fact that we're Americans.

    When, for lots of Americans, it simply isn't.

    So what then? We're not supposed to wave any flags, cheer for anything related to our country or express any pride? Wow, you must be tons of fun at National Team games.

    I can't do a whole lot about how some guy in Australia who hates the US because we win all the time, or have lots of money and military might. But I'm damn sure not going to walk around feeling guilty about it to make the rest of the world feel better.
     

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