Governments will do anything—absolutely anything,
no matter how violent or morally repulsive it
happens to be—to prevent anybody from getting
out from under their authoritarian thumb.
by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
I know that there are libertarians who frown upon the concepts of patriotism and nationalism because they consider these traits to be nothing more than an unhealthy worship of the state. I don’t necessarily agree with this stance, since I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with loving your country and the values that made it great. I am also not afraid to call this country exceptional. While I have never ventured outside the United States, I have heard accounts from many who regularly travel overseas that there are first-world countries who haven’t quite mastered the art of good plumbing, good toilet paper and in some cases good hygiene. As Penn Jillette once put it, “Nothing will make you love America more than overseas travel.”
It’s not to say that I don’t know where certain people are coming from when they discuss the dangers of patriotism. Yes, sometimes people use patriotism to justify all kinds of abhorrent actions of the government. To me this isn’t really the love of one’s country or its values as it is a blind worship of the state. I used to call this nationalism, but even then, state worship is an extreme form of nationalism. Most people who support nationalist policies do so because they want to favor America first. Lauren Southern has called for nationalist policies as a response to unvetted immigration and various other policies that compromise the sovereignty of this nation. I voted for Donald Trump because I thought that a nationalist who wanted to implement policies that benefited American interests was far better than a Soul Alinsky disciple, such as Hillary Clinton, who doesn’t seem to have any regard for American values.
There are extremes to every belief, which must be avoided at all costs. How do we recognize these extremes? We need to think of patriotism in the same way that we think about love. A healthy form of love would be one where you may be madly in love with your significant other, but not too mad. You still realize that your lover has flaws like everybody else. The kind of flaws that actually cause arguments from time to time. An unhealthy type of love would be one where you become so enamored that it becomes impossible for you to see any flaws in the one you love. Your lover treats your friends and even members of your own family like absolute garbage, yet you still remain devoted to that person. Yet the only thing you get for that devotion is a demand from your lover to have even more control over your life. So, in the long run, you end up with nothing.
In this same relationship, if you have anybody who tries to tell you that it is unhealthy, you will lash out at that person without thinking twice. It reminds me of the neoconservatives who would accuse anyone who questioned the passage of the Patriot Act or the invasion of Iraq of being disloyal to the United States. Obama fanatics acted the same way towards anyone who dared to question the intentions of their Anointed One. This is one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about patriotism. It isn’t about the love of one’s government. Contrary to what Bill “Slick Willie” Clinton once said, it is possible to love your country, while having nothing but absolute contempt for the people who run it. Especially if these same people are trying to undo everything that made this country great in the first place.
I also find it downright perverse when you have people who use patriotism as an excuse to stomp all over our liberties. I always thought that individual freedom was supposed to be a vital part of the American identity, yet it seems to be the very trait that people are willing to throw away in the name of patriotism. First there was John Ashcraft of the George W. Bush reign, who told us that we would enable our enemies if any of us dare question the government officials who pretend that our liberties don’t exist.
The people who really made me want to vomit were the so-called flag waving patriots, who came to the airports to support the efforts of the TSA to molest or take pornographic pictures of the passengers. Personally, I think waving a flag while rooting for the people who are routinely violating the Fourth Amendment rights of anybody who has to board a plane, is even more disgraceful than taking a match to Old Glory. Hell, I have seen ex-Marines go completely ballistic when protestors like to hang the flag upside down, which is actually a sign of distress and not necessarily a desecration. Yet, these same people wouldn’t even blink an eye when you have these good old boys, waving flags while begging the TSA to molest their wives and take pornographic pictures of their kids.
There is nothing wrong with loving your country, just as long as that love isn’t blind. Blind trust, blind faith, blind loyalty and blind devotion will get you nowhere in the end. You have to know the difference between a relationship that is healthy and one that is toxic. If you are in a relationship where you blindly follow the will of the one you love, then you are definitely in a relationship that is toxic. The same goes for anyone who blindly fellows the officials of this country. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to break up with the government as it is with a loved one who turns out to be a total loser.
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