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Patriotism and Dissent

November 14, 2005

“No matter what anybody tells ya, it is never, ever unpatriotic or unamerican to question any (effing) thing in a democracy.” – Steve Earle, Just An American Boy Disc 2, Track 8.

Where is the fine line between Patriotism and Nationalism? Does one really have to be conservative to honor the troops? What use is dissent anyway?

From the beginning, anyone critical of the Iraq war has been accused of being unpatriotic, unamerican, and sending “mixed messages” to the troops. This is absoloute blatherskite. One can easily be critical about the intent of a war, the reasons given for going to war and the orders that come down from the top while deeply respecting, admiring, and supporting the work and sacrifices the troops make on our behalf.

Meanwhile on Real Time with Bill Maher, Joe Scarborough blamed the prison torture scandal on National Guard “yayhoos” (yes, he actually used the word “yayhoos”) with no specialized training in interrogating prisoners doing just that. Doesn’t exactly sound like honoring the troops to me. It’s a shame to point this out, because I ordinarily have a good deal of admiration and respect for Joe. (For example, on the same show he had this to say about the Valerie Plame leak: “The fact that you’ve got Republicans now in charge of national security, and they are outing a covert agent at a time of war, it’s just inexcusable. And those Republicans that support that, they’re the Republicans that, quite frankly, are just interested in power and not interested in the things that they said they were going to do when they came to power.”)

This week, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. writes about the necessity of dissent and quotes some distinctly patriotic sources in making his argument. I strongly recommend reading this very short, well-written piece.

I thought the beauty of the American way of doing government was that dissenting voices were necessary to keep those in power honest. Guess I’m just a dreamer.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    November 15, 2005 6:36 am

    Faithful dissent is patriotic. Dissent for the sake of partisan politics is not. This is an important distinction. It’s a distinction that’s been getting a lot of discussion the Right end of the blogosphere lately.

  2. Willie permalink
    November 15, 2005 9:35 am

    Faithful dissent is patriotic. Dissent for the sake of partisan politics is not. This is an important distinction.

    I agree completely. But I do believe that we have been lied to, and those who point out evidence and search for the truth are accused not of faithful dissent but of partisan hackery. It would be misleading oneself to not admit that partisan hackery has been wild on the Right end of the spectrum.

    (BTW, McCain rocks)

  3. John permalink
    November 15, 2005 1:39 pm

    I’m sure that there’s enough hackery to go around.

    But I think that the Right is very tired of listening to the “Bush lied!” nonsense. It’s an argument that’s irrational on its face, and when senior Democratic leaders engage in this practice, they are rightfully called unpatriotic.

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