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Rethinking patriotism

September 11, 2018

Patriotism is engendered everywhere much the same way. People identify with their nation or their tribe or those who speak the same language and worship the same gods. The leaders who benefit most from that praise it and respect it and preach it as a virtue. The English fighting Napoleon were patriots. The French fighting Kaiser Wilhelm were patriots. The Russians fighting Hitler were patriots. And likewise, those on the other side. The photo shows some patriots shooting other patriots from that last conflict. The high degree of Japanese patriotism was the chief argument for Truman’s use of atomic weapons. All which should raise the question in those who view themselves as patriots: How is your patriotism better than or different from anyone else’s? 9/11 is a good day to read an essay questioning patriotism. As in this essay, by a veteran of Afghanistan, who signed up because his brother died in the 9/11 attacks.

Patriotism is especially dangerous when it is mixed with stories of national decline and restoration. As with so much else, Americans are divided on patriotism too.

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