Surprise! There’s not going to be a lot of football in this post. But I’ll work it in where I can.
I grew up within a thirty minute drive of one of the most deployed military bases in the U.S., so it’s safe to say that I’ve been exposed to just about every brand of hyper-patriotism in existence. Every house on every street sported an American flag, and Memorial Day was actually more than just “Giant BBQ Day,” because everyone knew/loved somebody who was literally putting their life on the line for their country. Because of this, there’s almost a sense of urgency to the way people there go about loving their country. Basically, your friends and family may die for the USA at any point, so you need to love your country to pieces, because otherwise questions about the necessity of their sacrifice will eat you alive from the inside.
And you know what? I get it. I really do. I know people who’ve lost parents, siblings, and spouses in the military. It’s heartbreaking. However, emotions only ever get in the way of rationality, and when you take all of that away, I can only reasonably come to the conclusion that patriotism–or at least, the inflated emphasis on it that I encounter daily–is straight up dumb. I really could go on and on about this, but for now, I’ll sum up my problems with patriotism in a few points.
1. It’s Practically Nationalism.
In most cases I’ve encountered, the two are inseparable. There’s a reason why synonyms of nationalism include both “flag-waving” and “jingoism.” Sure, you can argue that the two are distinct; patriotism, at its core, is devoted love of your country, and doesn’t necessarily have to lead to all of the negative “us vs. them” bulls**t we so often see. I’m not about to go the route of the “slippery slope” argument, but seriously, that’s a fine line to tread.
Most American patriots I know will throw around phrases like “the greatest country on earth” or “the city on a hill.” It’s sickening, but we put up with it because, in our case, there either aren’t any major negative consequences (yet) or they’re so far removed from us as to be a non-issue (unless you happen to live in a country where we currently have boots on the ground). It could be worse. It could be ethnic nationalism, or religious nationalism. The fact is, inflated patriotism generates a pretty prime climate for that sort of nonsense to proliferate. This would be forgivable if it actually did us any good otherwise, but… Continue reading