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Monday, April 14, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl
Patriotism Debate Redux

Without having read the article, Cohen's distinction sounds weak. It relies on the subjective term "wise policies." I would argue that allowing Saddam to continue to brutalize his own people while he strives to acquire WMDs and conquer the Middle East is an unwise policy. My opponents believe that my views on school vouchers are unwise because they could drain funds out of public schools. Neither of us should believe that the other is unpatriotic. That would be absurd because reasonable people disagree. A better distinction would be: hoping for or advocating a different policy for one's government is still patriotic, however demonizing one's goverment or hoping or working for its defeat is unpatriotic. Therefore, I would classify several (but not all) of the groups of antiwar protestors as unpatriotic. 1) The people with the swazsticas painted on the American flag are unpatriotic. They believe that America is evil and dislike it. It's hard to say that someone who hates America is patriotic. 2) The people in Oakland who blocked the enterance to the ports or the people who have attacked the front gates of Army bases all over CA. 3) While I'm not sure that they're "unpatriotic", I would be offended if the people who blocked intersections in SF and other cities claimed those as patriotic acts. Those protests show a misunderstanding of the concept of feedom of speech or of rights in general. My right to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose. Once those people restricted San Franciscan's right to mobility (which could theoretically be derived off of the right to freedom of association) they lost any right to wrap themselves in the blanket of patriotism. Similarly, anti-abortion protestors who block the entrance to clinics can not be considered patriotic in their actions.

That being said, the interesting part about this debate is not who's patriotic and who isn't. The interesting part is that very few people are actually calling the other side unpatriotic. The debate is mostly fueled by morons asserting that they ARE patriotic, despite what they're opponents claim. The kicker is that, by and large, the opponents don't mention patriotism, and attack primarily on merits of the argument. Me thinks the peaceniks doth protest too much.


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