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Why I am Patriotic and You Don’t Have to Be

December 1st, 2008

I recently wrote a post saying that you should be proud to be an American. This post received several negative comments so I thought I would explore the idea of patriotism a little deeper. After some discussions with family and friends, I discovered two things. The first thing is there are several reasons why I am patriotic. The second is that there are legitimate reasons as to why some people aren’t patriotic.

Why I am Patriotic

I love America. It has brought some negative responses, but I am not ashamed to say that. It has been very good to me and to many people over the years. I am thankful for the many freedoms that it provides me. I have the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and many others. I know many of these are available other places, but they are not available everywhere. If you enjoy these freedoms in another part of the world, be thankful for having them. There is no reason to point this out to me, I realize that America is not the only good place to live in the world.

It is just chance that I was born in America as opposed to some other part of the world, but I happen to like living where I do. America is the way it is for many reasons. However, a big part of how America is shaped came from our Founding Fathers and the soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War. They sacrificed to create the country I live in. I feel that I owe them at least a small debt of gratitude for their efforts.

Many brave men and women have continued to fight for these freedoms and I am thankful for that. I realize that other countries have armies as well, but that doesn’t matter to my point. Some countries use them for purposes that are pretty terrible. The German army in World War II did a lot of awful things, and I am thankful for the Americans and other Allies that fought to stop them. If your country uses its army for good purposes, namely protecting you, you should be thankful for them.

The things that happened at Abu Ghraib and a few other places make me sick. I am not proud of those people because they are not representing the things that America stands for. There was a great article in the Washington Post today about an interrogator that has had great success without using torture. I am thankful for good men like him. While there are plenty of people who don’t represent America well, there are many more like this man that represents America well.

Why You Don’t Have To Be Patriotic

I am thankful that the country I was born in has been a good place to live for me. However, I also realize that it is just random chance that I was born within these political boundaries. I did not do anything to be born here, and I had nothing to do with the founding of this country. A friend of mine said this about the issue:

The fact that I was born here is just a roll of the dice, mere happenstance. I am proud of things I can accomplish and control. I am a horribly unpatriotic person, and given a better deal in some currently non-existent great economy with tons of job, I would strongly consider relocating and applying for citizenship elsewhere.

This is a valid point. Being “proud to be an American” is an interesting concept. Generally you are proud of something that you have done well. An impressive accomplishment can make a person proud. Simply being proud because you were born in a certain place could be considered a little silly. You had no control over it at all.

There are other reasons that are perfectly acceptable to not be patriotic. To be perfectly frank, America has not been a good place to live for many people. Being a minority in America has meant bad things for many many people. Slavery existed for almost 90 years for blacks. The next 100 years were not much better. There were lynchings, segregation, and a lot of discrimination for a long time. Some still exists today. If you were an African American living in these eras, there was no reason to be patriotic or proud to be an American. These things make me ashamed sometimes.

While I am still thankful for America and all it has given me, I don’t think any less of you if you aren’t. It is perfectly reasonable in many cases, and in some cases it makes very little sense to be proud to be an American. Let me know how you feel in the comments below.

Author: Derek Clark Categories: General Politics Tags: , ,
  1. Lois Carneiro
    December 2nd, 2008 at 00:03 | #1

    I think that patriotism is tribalism, writ large. It’s inherently divisive.

    I’m not suggesting that the human population adopt a single, world-wide system of government, but that we should become more attuned to the effect of our policies on others, and more willing to temper our patriotism with diplomacy and cooperation.

    Lois Carneiro

  2. lednerbio
    December 2nd, 2008 at 03:25 | #2

    Uh, Hi. A country doesn’t give rights to anyone, some countries just take away less or different ones. I can understand being happy about living in a free-er place, but feeling gratitude to dead corpses is a bit irrational. I bet the founding fathers would rather you have an allegiance to making a country like you want it than the way they initially made it (slavery, land-owning voters, electoral college, Federalism etc…). If you feel inclined to be patriotic you should be just as ashamed of the United States’ cunning and ruthless imperialism. This is ambivalent, and a good reason not to have feelings about a country. Feelings are easily manipulated and twisted by politicians. Countries can do good (some rare times) and they can do bad, even at the same time. As an aside, how would a government “feel” patriotic about its citizens? By having the largest imprisoned population in any developed country, by having ludicrous military and police spending, by having one of the poorest levels of healthcare in a developed nation? Patriotism is rarely without its long-time friend nationalism (rather divisive), there are few patriots who hold allegiance not to a country but perhaps ideas or non-ambiguously divided peoples.

  3. towerclimber37
    December 2nd, 2008 at 07:42 | #3

    wow! just wow!

    I see so many negative ideas here. I AM a patriot as well as a believer in America as a force for good and a place for the respite of others that are less fortunate. I love my country and realize that we make mistakes. we also stand ready to correct those oversights.
    that is the hallmark of a champion..not a saint.
    At the end of the day, we’re humanity. I think we aspire to be the best of humanity. Nowhere else would you see folks more willing to give of what they have to make someone else happier or more productive.
    Sadly Jealousy and hate often limit this.
    I would like to pose a question for the last 2 posters here.
    how many 3rd world countries have you visited and how much have you done to help them..aside from all that pretty chin music?

    while I don’t scoff at education, I think that it’s one of the most misused gifts that we have.
    these folks would have you believe you can pick up a turd by the clean end and not get your hands dirty.
    We have a not perfect government system. that’s ok, we’re not perfect. we’ve never claimed to be perfect.
    we also have the ability to change what we don’t like in our government, should we choose to exercise it. this is achieved through either the vote or force of arms.
    I submit that if you don’t like our government…CHANGE IT. Don’t just sit there and call it ugly. actually get up off your manicured asses and DO something about it.
    but you won’t…you folks are all talk and no show.
    I myself like the way our country is right now, enough that I don’t feel the need to overthrow it. My vote is enough. :)

  4. Achu
    March 19th, 2009 at 14:46 | #4

    I implore you to read “Amazing Grace” by Johnathan Kozol, if you think that people are willing to give others something to make them happier explain why 5% of our population controls the MAJORITY of the wealth? This parameter (parameter is used for the population, statistic is for a small group) shows that in reality, those of us who make a decent amount of money are in fact actually being screwed, for the lack of a better word at the moment, by the owners and executives of large corporations and businesses.

    For the poster above me… Force of arms? Yes, let’s have another revolution! A machine gun versus a tank who shall win? For soldiers are taught to obey those in charge, preferably without morals, hence the saying, “Soldiers obey.”

    Also by saying, “…we’re humanity…”, you just proved that you’re one of the few people who are probably near that 5% of the population who does not need to worry about ending up in a place like Mott Heaven. I under stand if you meant to say, “we’re humans” but if you are implying that we (the United States) is all of humanity, then that is absurd.

    So thank you for misusing your education.

  5. Achu
    March 19th, 2009 at 14:48 | #5

    Hmm, on second reading that I think I had a few grammatical errors..

  6. March 19th, 2009 at 19:30 | #6

    @Achu - “explain why 5% of our population controls the MAJORITY of the wealth”
    It is because they work very hard, are very smart, and have been very successful at what they do. It is also because many people are lazy and don’t try to succeed but would rather live off of the rest of us.

    Note that many of those that are in that 5% also give much of it back to help the rest of us. Look at Bill Gates who is currently the richest man in the world. His current full time job consists of giving his money away to help the world. Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world, just gave the Gates foundation like 30 billion dollars to give away.

    Just because they control wealth similar to small countries doesn’t make them jerks. Also, just because the media and politicians in Washington try to make out rich people to all be evil does not make it so.

  7. An english dude
    April 17th, 2012 at 15:17 | #7

    Necropost.
    I say nay.