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The Reactionary Utopian

 The Patriot’s Creed 

August 25, 2005 
In America, a patriot is a guy who complains about all the things that are wrong with this country and then accuses other Americans of not loving it. Judging by their intellectual subtlety, some of our patriots could have studied civics under Today's column is "The Patriot's Creed" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.Huck Finn’s Pap. “Call this a govment! Why, just look at it and see what it’s like.” Today Pap would probably be a talk-radio host. A popular one, too. Nowadays no talent like his goes unrewarded.

The other day Rush Limbaugh raised the thoughtful question whether people who oppose the Iraq war are really patriotic. Just asking, of course. Not accusing anyone of anything. Hinting, maybe.

Oddly enough, Bill Clinton (whom Rush isn’t too fond of, and vice versa) once said something in the same vein: “There's nothing patriotic about hating your government or pretending you can hate your government but love your country.” That’s the patriot’s creed in one pithy sentence. Saddam Hussein couldn’t have said it better. How can you hate torture chambers and try to pass yourself off as a patriot? I’ll never understand people like that.

Rush had a point, though, when he asked how people can say they “oppose the war” but “support our troops.” After all, the war is what our troops are doing. And they are volunteers, not draftees. You might as well say you have nothing against soldiers, as long as they don’t hurt anyone. What do you think soldiers are paid to do? Hand out chewing gum?

It reminds me of an illuminating moment in a television documentary about neo-Nazis many years ago. The interviewer asked a young man why he would belong to such a group. Slightly abashed, he replied, “Well, Nazism is the answer for me. It may not be the answer for everyone.” Only in a pluralistic country could such a concept arise: tolerant, all-volunteer Nazism. Often the best kind. Somewhere, Hitler and Goebbels must be kicking themselves for not thinking of it.

Live and let live, I always say. Don’t bother the other fellow if he wants to goose-step to a different drummer; that’s his business. What a dull world it would be if we all had to goose-step at the same pace! It would be especially hard on those of us who use canes and walkers.

A truly equal-opportunity, nondiscriminatory Nazism might be an improvement on some types of American patriotism. Rush and Sean Hannity, brothers under the thin skin, habitually speak of opponents of the war as “liberals” and “the Left,” unless something has changed since I last snapped off my radio. But they ignore those of us who can oppose the war without hankering to send an alleged lesbian to the White House in 2008.

[Breaker quote for The Patriot's Creed: How about pluralistic Nazism?]I think I speak for millions when I say I wouldn’t mind seeing a white male in the White House — maybe even a dead white male next time, considering how poorly the live ones usually perform. What we usually get are deadly white males.

The point is to end the war, which was a bad idea in the first place and has failed on its own terms, which you can believe no matter what else you think about the government. I know liberals and leftists who believe that, but I also know conservatives, moderate Republicans, libertarians, anarchists, and others who believe it too.

And no, I won’t insult your common sense by saying I “support our troops.” I rather strongly disapprove of what they’re doing in Iraq. When you join the armed forces, you agree to fight wherever you are told, no matter where, no matter why. And President Bush isn’t too good at explaining why. Cindy Sheehan is right about that; but her son, it pains me to point out, did agree to serve. Did she try to dissuade him?

Most of us love our country. We can hardly help it. It’s only natural to feel affection for your homeland. But that doesn’t translate into unconditional love for whoever happens to be in charge of it at any given moment, whether it’s a Clinton or a Bush.

I like Americans. Some of my best friends are Americans. I know that’s what anti-Americans always say, but in my case it happens to be true. In fact, nearly all my best friends are Americans. Maybe a few are illegal aliens, but they’re the minority.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2005 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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