July 4, 2006 Leave a comment
An interesting feature in the News & Observer this weekend about patriotism got me thinking. If it is one thing I hate, it is the “America, love it or leave it crowd.” Liberals are often criticized for being insufficiently patriotic and insufficiently prideful in American's greatness. I'll go out on a limb here and speak for liberals and say that we are critical of America because we love it so much and recognize the great potential in its people and its core ideals. We want an America that truly supports liberty and equality, that is kind and generous, that treats all people with respect and dignity. When America falls short of these (and similar ideals), be it advocating torture, spying on its own citizens, denying equality, etc., we are critical because we want America to be the best it can be. “Love it or leave it” is simply a recipe for stagnation and decline. What if the Founding Fathers had taken that attitude. Or the Progressives who created tremendously important and long-lasting political and social reforms in the early 20th century. (And if you've got a problem with that, you support the buying of votes and children working in factories). The only way for anything to improve, be it a person or a country, is an honest assessment of flaws in order to move forward. I love the ideals this country was founded upon, that is why I passionately want us to come ever closer to actually realizing those ideals. That to me, is patriotism.
[I actually had this whole post written when I noticed that my favorite columnist, E. J. Dionne, had similar thoughts to share today]