Sunday, April 22, 2007

What Is A Patriot?

This post is a sequel to yesterday's, Farewell to America As We Know It.

I think, in order to be precise, there needs to be a distinction between the words, 'patriot' and 'nationalist'. Wordnet, a Princeton University lexical database defines 'patriot' thus: "One who loves and defends his or her country". The word 'nationalist' is defined as: "An advocate of national independence of or a strong national government".
They are not the same. Not exactly opposing views, they are nevertheless slightly divergent. The term "strong government" is the giveaway. Wordnet goes on to further define 'nationalistic' as: devotion to the interests or culture of a particular nation including promoting the interest of one country over those of others. Hmmm. So I can be a patriot, without necessarily being a nationalist - according to Wordnet. To take the definition of nationalist one step further, it would necessarily imply that a governing body of legislative, judicial, and military leaders willing, and perhaps intent on, carrying our interests and culture beyond our borders, using whatever tools necessary.

As a patriot, I need not espouse the goals of a nationalist. This is a subject that obviously could engender much useful discussion and discourse. But I don't have the time, so I will just come right out and say: I am a patriot, love my country, served in the US Army, am willing to die for my country. Hopefully, it won't come to that, but there may be other considerations in defending my country, the USA, which could involve loss of personal freedom. I am also prepared to deal with that, if push comes to shove. I could be threatened with imprisonment, as others have in the past, for failing to muster up the necessary support for nationalistic agendas. Even so, nationalistic agendas would have to be looked at and discussed in a variety of contexts before they would get my stamp of approval.

The reason for this hesitation is simple. Nationalistic interests which would extend beyond our borders are mixed, corrupted, and adulterated with special interests. Such special interests will have their own agenda, seeking to ally with the power of state. Halliburton's corporate interests would be an example of such special interests. Given their expertise in infrastructure rebuilding, among other things, they rely heavily on government contracts which proceed from, say a war.

Halliburton's contracts with Homeland Security, Justice Department, Depart of Immigration, and the US military would make them partial in any government undertaking where the intent is to "promote the interests and culture" of The United States of America. Detention centers have been built within the boundaries of the United States, or are on renewable contract to be built at the pleasure of the current administration. Already quite a few detention centers have been built on American soil. In preparation for what?

Another example would be the US Government's Biomeric Consortium. For a quick read on biometrics, Wikipedia says:

Biometrics (ancient Greek: bios ="life", metron ="measure") is the study of methods for uniquely recognizing humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral traits.

In information technology, biometric authentication refers to technologies that measure and analyze human physical and behavioural characteristics for authentication purposes. Examples of physical (or physiological or biometric) characteristics include fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, facial patterns and hand measurements, while examples of mostly behavioural characteristics include signature, gait and typing patterns. All behavioral biometric characteristics have a physiological component, and, to a lesser degree, physical biometric characteristics have a behavioral element.

The implanted ID chip is right around the corner, folks. Get ready for it.

I wonder what Thomas Jefferson, or Thomas Paine, "who viewed all government as, at best, a necessary evil", would have thought of such intrusions?

In pursuing nationalistic agendas, wars have been fought and are being fought today. Our Industrial/military complex (an example of a PPP - Public Private Partnership) is huge and growing yearly, taking an enormous chunk of our money to sustain and develop. Who has authorized all this? Was I consulted? Were you? No. It was probably the first government/private industry symbiosis, which was later developed to include many such relationships, and out of that grew the idea they thought they could sell to the citizens: "sustainable development". Which means what, exactly?

Wikipedia says: "Sustainable development has also been defined as the process of balancing the need of humans for economic and social development with the need to protect the natural and built environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future. The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own need."[1]

The field of sustainable development can be conceptually broken into four constituent parts: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, social sustainability and political sustainability."

Hmmm again. Sounds like an insurance policy. A lack of faith in America's viability.

The business of the UN goes on, and on, and on - ad infinitum. So where, exactly does my support as a patriot, come in? Do I rubber-stamp whatever the presiding administration thinks is best? With no way to input into the decisions? No, that is where the nationalist is needed. How about an administration who wants to go to war, using whatever pretext is convenient, such as "War On Terror"? Or, "Preventing the Communists from taking over the world" a pretext for making Viet Nam look like the bottom of a Shake & Bake bag? No, see as a 'patriot', I don't have to co-sign someone else's war. As a patriot, I am compelled to love and defend my country from attack, not go looking for a war, or support others who would do so. That's a nationalist's job, and I've already said I'm not a nationalist, thank you very much.

A quick review, just off the top of my head. For WWll we had Pearl Harbor as the precipitating event. For the Viet Nam War, we had the Gulf of Tonkin Incident:

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident was an alleged pair of attacks by naval forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (commonly referred to as North Vietnam) against two American destroyers, the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy. The attacks were alleged to have occurred on 2 August and 4 August 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Later research, including a report released in 2005 by the National Security Agency, indicated that the second attack most likely did not occur, but also attempted to dispel the long-standing assumption that members of the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson had knowingly lied about the nature of the incident.[1]

The outcome of the incident was the passage by Congress of the Southeast Asia Resolution (better known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution), which granted Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by "communist aggression". The resolution served as Johnson's legal justification for escalating American involvement in the Vietnam Conflict.

Well, well.

For the War in Iraq, we had 9/11. And from 9/11 we have a whole new nationalistic agenda, the War on Terror. Keep it out of our country, by taking the fight to them. Do you really believe that the Muslim terrorists could not strike again on US soil, at will, if they so chose?

All this suggests a much, much stronger government than was allowed for in the US Constitution, which is why I am against it. Nothing good can come of it.

So by bringing all this up, am I a traitor to my country, or a patriot? I say patriot, but I leave that to your discretion. I am not looking for agreement. But if you agree that this whole business of patriotism/nationalism needs more public discourse, then by all means, say so. It is, after all, your country we are talking about.

Bring up the notion of civil disobedience though, and people start to get nervous. Could it be that we have become too comfortable with the status quo? Or is it that we are loathe to think that our own government would lie and deceive its citizenry, and so are reluctant to entertain the notion of revolt. Back in the 60's the idea of change of government was not so revolutionary. It was natural, because we knew the government was up to no good, and the desire to see good come of the demonstrations was implicit in the demands. Today we can see that the government is up to no good, so what is different?

Partly, the answer lies in the NEA's agenda of teaching, not subjects like math, physics, even arithmetic, but rather, it focuses on courses of social tolerance, sex education, world government, global government, environmental studies, yada, yada. Slowly, insidiously the focus has shifted to emphasizing that we need more protection, more security from dangerous forces, a more powerful government to take care of us - and away from subjects like chemistry, trigonometry, hard sciences. Away from subjects which would actually hone one's ability to reason through problems, and toward the notion of passing tests on material given as fact, the only facts we need know are provided by the teachers. This has the effect of dulling the senses, of punishing critical thinking. The public schools are a disgrace. A goodly percentage of American citizens are aware of this. One only has to look at the shameful state of discipline practiced, or rather, not practiced in our schools today.

The media has let us down. They are under the influence of powerful forces, forces so powerful as to silence them. This is partly why we find ourselves in the dark today. They have sold out. Were it not for bloggers, it would be very difficult to ascertain the state of affairs today, because the media will not present the truth. They present a very slanted view of events. That was never, until quite recently, how it was supposed to be. The newspapers at the very least, were in place to give unbiased reportage. How many people today believe they get the unvarnished truth from news reporters? I would love to know the answer to that, but unfortunately, there just isn't time. It is up to us to change the media's relationship to its readers. We can start to do that by forcing them to report news, instead of ignoring news.

The rallies in Washington DC this week are a step in the right direction. The truckers, and also FAIR - hold their feet to the fire demonstration will force the media to at least report the events, thus making readers, and viewers aware that something is amiss.

Forcing the media to bring the news to the people is a good thing, and it needs to be stepped-up. I know that Jesse Ventura at United American Committee is doing a great job in that respect. Also Nedd Kareiva at Stop the ACLU, Joe Kaufman at Americans Against Hate, and all bloggers are also having an effect. Individually, we don't count for a whole lot, but taken as a group focused on bringing the truth out, we count. But we need to do more. The states are waking up to the fact that they have been cut out of the loop, by a sneaky administration. We need to encourage their representatives and governors to speak out.

Finally, a few words from Henry David Thoreau:

"...Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, aye, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? ...How does it become a man to behave toward the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave's government also.

All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now....".

I say, if we don't resist now, then we deserve what we get. Oh, and one question: do you consider yourself a Patriot? or a Nationalist? I'm not sure you can be both.

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