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Thread: Patriotism & The Fourth of July

  1. #1
    Senior Member Hyder's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    Queens, NY

    Patriotism & The Fourth of July

    i really liked this article.

    Patriotism & The Fourth of July

    by Howard Zinn; July 03, 2006

    In celebration of the 4th of July there will be many speeches about the young people who “died for their country.” Let's be honest about war. Those who gave their lives did not die for their country, as they were led to believe but for their government. The distinction between country and government is at the heart of the Declaration of Independence, which will be referred to again and again on July 4, but without attention to its meaning.

    According to the Declaration of Independence—the fundamental document of democracy—governments are artificial creations, established by the people, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and charged by the people to ensure the equal right of all to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Furthermore, as the Declaration says, “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.”

    It is the country that is primary—the people, the ideals of the sanctity of human life and the promotion of liberty. When a government recklessly expends the lives of its young for crass motives of profit and power, always claiming that its motives are pure and moral (“Operation Just Cause” was the invasion of Panama and “Operation Iraqi Freedom” in the present instance), it is violating its promise to the country. War is almost always a breaking of that promise. It does not enable the pursuit of happiness but brings despair and grief.

    Mark Twain, having been called a “traitor” for criticizing the U.S. invasion of the Philippines, derided what he called “monarchical patriotism.” He said: “The gospel of the monarchical patriotism is: ‘The King can do no wrong.’ We have adopted it with all its servility, with an unimportant change in the wording: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had—the individual’s right to oppose both flag and country when he believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it, all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism.”

    If patriotism in the best sense (not in the monarchical sense) is loyalty to the principles of democracy, then who was the true patriot, Theodore Roosevelt, who applauded a massacre by American soldiers of 600 Filipino men, women, and children on a remote Philippine island, or Mark Twain, who denounced it?

    Today, U.S. soldiers are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan are not dying for their country, they are dying for their government. They are dying for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. And yes, they are dying for the greed of the oil cartels, for the expansion of the American empire, for the political ambitions of the President. They are dying to cover up the theft of the nation’s wealth to pay for the machines of death. As of July 4, 2006, more than 2,500 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, more than 8,500 maimed or injured.

    With the war in Iraq long delcared a “Mission Accomplished,” shall we revel in American military power and—against the history of modern empires—insist that the American empire will be beneficent?

    Our own history shows something different. It begins with what was called, in our high school history classes, “westward expansion”—a euphemism for the annihilation or expulsion of the Indian tribes inhabiting the continent, all in the name of “progress” and “civilization.” It continues with the expansion of American power into the Caribbean at the turn of the century, then into the Philippines, and then repeated Marine invasions of Central America and long military occupations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
    After World War II, Henry Luce, owner of Time, LIFE, and Fortune, spoke of “the American Century,” in which this country would organize the world “as we see fit.” Indeed, the expansion of American power continued, too often supporting military dictatorships in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, because they were friendly to American corporations and the American government.

    The record does not justify confidence in Bush’s boast that the United States will bring democracy to Iraq. Should Americans welcome the expansion of the nation’s power, with the anger this has generated among so many people in the world? Should we welcome the huge growth of the military budget at the expense of health, education, the needs of children, one fifth of whom grow up in poverty?

    Instead of being feared for our military prowess, we should want to be respected for our dedication to human rights. I suggest that a patriotic American who cares for her or his country might act on behalf of a different vision.

    Should we not begin to redefine patriotism? We need to expand it beyond that narrow nationalism that has caused so much death and suffering. If national boundaries should not be obstacles to trade—some call it “globalization”—should they also not be obstacles to compassion and generosity?

    Should we not begin to consider all children, everywhere, as our own? In that case, war, which in our time is always an assault on children, would be unacceptable as a solution to the problems of the world. Human ingenuity would have to search for other ways.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    I get very sad when I read anything by Zinn. He's a smart guy, and just when you think he's starting to make sense, he goes off-road into his Anti-American fantasy land.

    He is absolutely right that there is a difference in loving (or fighting for) your country, and for your government. Why then, does he say that we should have the "right to oppose both flag and country when he believed them to be in the wrong."? He JUST said that many wars are fought for government, not country. If the two are separate, how can "the country" ever be wrong?

    It is very possible to be against what the government believes and still love your country. Your country is our home, where you live. “Country” is physical and spiritual, not political. Our flag represents our country, and the strong men that once stood up to the strongest force in the world to form their own nation that they believed in. To have such bravery to go against all odds, to have so much heart, and to win, is what this country, and that flag, is all about.

    People can be against the Iraqi War all day. But when people translate their disagreement with political decisions into hating the flag, burning it or calling it offensive, then you are a self-hating American and you need to move find a new home in a nation that doesn’t offer you the option to think freely.

    Howard Zinn does nothing but spend his time trying to tear down the mere ideology of being American, and what truly is his hatred for Western Culture. His thoughts are not far off at all from the extremists that desire to strike terror in our cities. In fact, he regularly defends them. Yet, he has no problem living the American lifestyle.


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