Responsibilities

Awhile back I wrote a post called “Patriotism v. Nationalism,” which was followed up by “Patriotism v. Paranoia,” “Patriotism v. Francis Fuk

Awhile back I wrote a post called “Patriotism v. Nationalism,” which was followed up by “Patriotism v. Paranoia,” “Patriotism v. Francis Fukuyama,” “Patriotism v. Hate Speech,” and probably some other posts. Anyway, in the first post I repeated some quotes about patriotism and nationalism I found in Bartlett’s. Here are some of them, again:

The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war. — Sidney J. Harris

Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill and calling for larger spurs and brighter beaks. I fear that nationalism is one of England’s many spurious gifts to the world. — Richard Aldington

“Responsibility” seems to be a common theme:

What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility … a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. — Adlai Stevenson

I contend that the primary difference between patriots and nationalists is that patriots value responsibility, while nationalists value loyalty. So you know that when you read this, you are reading the words of a nationalist, not a patriot.

The “this” is Michelle Malkin, publishing photographs of Iranian men being bashed by the Iranian religious compliance police for wearing Western dress. She’s right to be outraged by the Iranian government’s brutality. However, Lulu loses me when she writes crap like this:

Question: Will these photos be blared across the front pages of the international media with as much disgust and condemnation as the photos of Abu Ghraib or the manufactured Gitmo Koran-flushing riots?

Answer: Fat chance.

Question: What do leftist apologists for the Iranian regime have to say about the brutal, appalling, and escalating crackdown on human rights? Yeah, you, Rosie.


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Answer: Nothing.

The word “nothing” is linked to some videos of Rosie O’Donnell, whom Malkin seems to think is the designated spokesperson of the entire Left. Rosie is the new Ward Churchill.

Anyway, the “liberals hate America” charge is connected to the perception that liberals and “lefties” and the press (which, in RightieWorld, is liberal) are more critical of the United States than of other nations. I’ve been hearing this charge my whole long life. In the 1960s, it was “Why don’t you dirty bleeping hippies protest the Communists?”

I can’t speak for the “international press,” but for me, the answer is “because I’m a patriot.”

On some level — human and spiritual — we’re all responsible for “the whole catastrophe,” as my old Zen teacher used to put it. But as a citizen of this country, it is my duty to speak up when my country has done something wrong. This is not “hating America.” It is what a patriot does.

I concede I haven’t blogged much about human rights abuses in Iran. I haven’t blogged much about human rights abuses in China, Cuba, Uzbekistan, or the Central African Republic, either. I don’t blog about everything that disturbs me, because I don’t have time. I send a small donation monthly to Amnesty International because human rights abuses around the globe concern me deeply.

But when I think my country is abusing human rights, I blog about it. I do this because I think I’m more directly responsible for what my country does than for what some other country does. And I think if all citizens of all countries took responsibility for their own nations’ actions instead of pointing fingers at everybody else, the world would be a better place.

And I’ve been having this conversation with wingnuts since the late 1960s. It flies right over their pointy little heads every time. They like to make noises about how other people should take responsibility, but you know they don’t think this advice applies to them.

Let’s close with some more quotes:

Nationalism is militant hatred. It is not love of our countrymen: that, which denotes good citizenship, philanthropy, practical religion, should go by the name of patriotism. Nationalism is passionate xenophobia. It is fanatical, as all forms of idol-worship are bound to be. And fanaticism—l’infame denounced by Voltaire—obliterates or reverses the distinction between good and evil. Patriotism, the desire to work for the common weal, can be, must be, reasonable: “My country, may she be right!” Nationalism spurns reason: “Right or wrong, my country.” — Albert L. Guerard

Nationalism … is the worship of the collective power of a local human community. Unlike the faith in progress through science, nationalism is not a new religion; it is a revival of an old one. This was the religion of the city-states of the pre-Christian Greco-Roman world. It was resuscitated in the West at the Renaissance, and this resuscitation of the Greco-Roman political religion has been far more effective than the resuscitation of the Greco-Roman style of literature, visual art, and architecture. Modern Western nationalism, inspired by Greco-Roman political ideals and institutions, has inherited the dynamism and fanaticism of Christianity. Translated into practice in the American and French Revolutions, it proved to be highly infectious. Today, fanatical nationalism is perhaps 90 percent of the religion of perhaps 90 percent of mankind. — A.J. Toynbee

Finally,

Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception. — George Orwell

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