Currently, there seems to be a ineluctable rise of white supremacy and ultra-conservative posturing in this country. The proponents of the political philosophy that embodies these views, often claim themselves to be patriotic. This got me thinking about what patriotism actually is.
First, I would like to state categorically what it is not. Patriotism has little to do with boisterously showing and waving the flag. The flag is a symbol of the values that this country supposedly possesses – it has little to do with reality of life in the United States. This symbol is too often used to celebrate America’s military might, or to applaud bigotry and repression, or flaunt a sense of racial superiority on behalf of the white population.
Patriotism has little to do with the storming of the nation’s capital on Jan 6, 2021 in a vain attempt to thwart the peaceful transition of power following a national election.
Patriotism has nothing to do with the use of extraordinary and extralegal means to suppress the truth and encourage violence in the name of extremist ideologies that infect the body politic with distortion and unreality.
In my mind, patriotism is a mode of action that is motivated by the ideals upon which the Democratic Republic of the United States was founded. To be patriotic is to stand for freedom for all; to believe and practice the rule of law and support the democratic precepts of equal rights and equal opportunity for everyone; and to accept the basis of any true democracy - that being the right to vote and the rule of the majority while honoring the essential and substantial role of the minority in the democratic process. To be patriotic is reject the lie and support the truth. To be patriotic is to own up to the mistakes and excesses of the past and work towards a “more perfect union.”
Patriotism does not need to rely upon mere symbols, or play lip service to the democratic ideal. To be patriotic is to look toward the future and act in a way that preserves the fundamental precepts of our democratic system for future generations.