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Monday, April 14, 2003

Posted by Jake
Antiwar Patriotism Or Can Stupidity Still Be Patriotic?

Fundamentally, I am getting tired of this debate. Each side is labelling each other unpatriotic really as a means to gain the moral high ground in the argument about the war in Iraq, not based on a uniform standard for what patriotism is.

Does patriotism mean "supporting the troops"? Does patriotism mean "supporting your government's policies"?

I am going to argue in favor for a standard explained by Randy Cohen, ethicist for the New York Times Magazine. (Randy Cohen is not someone whose evaluations I tend to agree with, but this generalization is one of them.) He asserts that patriotism is urging your government to adopt wise policies.

I don't agree with the majority of what liberals say about the war in Iraq. According to this standard, however, if opposition the comes from the genuine desire for the government to adopt wise policies, then they are behaving patriotically, even if the statements they are making are themselves unwise. (Some may very well be doing this for other reasons -- desire for political advancement, monetary reasons, etc. A great many liberals have made it their business to undermine every American attempt at success in this and other ventures. It is hypocritical for them to call themselves patriotic now that it is convenient.)

The safety of our troops is clearly a wise policy. By extension, once a war is joined, it is the patriotic duty of citizens to argue for those policies which bring the soldiers home the fastest. (My argument in such a case is that swift victory is usually the fastest, and therefore the wisest, policy.)

I think that denouncing other people's lack of patriotism, however apt that description may be, is a blunt instrument in the argument over policy. Disparaging other's citizen credentials fails to get to the root of the matter: whether this is a good policy. I am confident that we as conservatives can win that argument, so lets drop the patriotism debate.


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