Thursday, March 30, 2006


Sudden Spokespersons of Patriotism

Wednesday’s issue of the Online Journal’s Best of the Web had an item linking to an interesting article by Columbia University journalism and sociology professor Todd Gitlin in The Yale Daily News.

The Journal quotes Gitlin in describing the problem the left has with Patriotism:

"The left sees itself as standing outside a country that does bad," Gitlin said. "However, it is strategically disastrous to take this position as outsiders, since it is a concession to people who are not entitled to be the spokespersons of patriotism. It is a move against public life, public domain, public virtue and public-mindedness."

The editors at the Journal summarize and comment on Gitlin’s premise:

As a man of the left, he frames the argument in strategic terms because he knows liberals want power, and he correctly ascertains that the path to power would be much easier if they were correctly perceived as patriotic. The question is whether such an instrumental approach can produce a sincere patriotism. We don't know the answer, but we're skeptical.

Gitlin advocates that the Left discard their reluctance to express and even embrace their underlying “patriotism,” and allow the public to develop a more accurate sense that they are patriotic, and the stances they take are reflective of how patriotic they really are, in taking offense against the wrongs done by the default “spokespersons of patriotism.”

There’s a tragic flaw, a fundamental obstacle to Gitlin’s aim: the actual, in their heart of hearts perception of what America stands for, whether we are in fact a source for good and not for evil in the world.

Today’s “progressives” would be hard pressed to find policies that suited them, even if they were ever given the chance to lead. For everything in their ideology, everything in their self-created reality, is based on the first premise that everything the US does, it does for greed, power, racism, or other evil intents.

They have traveled together so far down this road that even a truly progressive foreign policy, one that reasserts the primacy of human rights and democratic ideals, leaves them in a sulk.

"The left sees itself as standing outside a country that does bad," Gitlin alleges, and in this he is right. The left sees itself as the sole protector of all the good that the bad of the US comes against, and therefore the left rallies to the support of those who would hate and destroy us, because the enemy of the bad must be the good.

Voltaire said, “the perfect [sometimes translated, “best”] is the enemy of the good.” For the left, that never fails to leave them in a state of permanent opposition to public policy, no matter how well intended. One need look no further than the foolishness of constituencies who place modern “progressives” in places of authority and governance. Look at their hopeless and misguided efforts at legislating human nature? At righting wrongs with excessive authority? At intrusions into fundamentally liberties?

Their own lofty principles and “if only” dreams make them the enemies of practical good today.

The US overwhelmingly provides the greatest amount of funding, security, material support, and commitment of blood and treasure for all manner of well intended, progressive inspired beneficence all over the world. We give billions to both the Israelis and the Egyptians, as thanks for the Camp David accords and the resulting uninterrupted period of non-violence against each other (aside from the rhetorical). We gave nearly a billion a year to that scoundrel and murderer Arafat and his Palestinian Authority (for who knows what we thought we were getting). We give billions for HIV and AIDS research, we feed North Koreans, Asians, we support all manner of security umbrellas for everyone we ever fought against and the entirety of Europe and democratic Asia.

How anyone can construe us as bad, rather than perhaps sometimes misguided or clumsy, depending on your politics, is incredible.

To see the US as bad goes beyond being a patriot who loves the US but hates what we do; to see the US as bad is to have so warped a perspective or world view, that you are logically in favor of a diminishment of US power and influence, a rejection of US ideals, a repudiation of US aims and objectives in the world, the defeat of US national interests, and so on.

That’s not a problem of others perception of the Left. That’s a crisis in the perceptions of the Left, themselves.

Links: Mudville Gazette

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