Patriotism gone bad

Patriotism gone bad

Nathan Stapleton

Patriotism gone bad

Jessica Schreinddl

In a post 9/11 world, perhaps the worst thing one can be called is unpatriotic.

“Your mama” jokes could be most insulting if they consisted of lines such as “your mama doesn’t support the troops,” or “your mama doesn’t want to win the war on terror.” Ouch.

In America today, patriotism is at an all-time high, riding the coattails of a national tragedy. At its best, it can be unifying. At its worst, it can be a numbing shot to the brain that allows us to sit back and watch our liberties go up in flames; all the while waving a 99 cent American flag in our hand.

Point in case: The other night while serving beverages at my place of work I witnessed a strange phenomenon. As the lights dimmed and the Star Spangled Banner began, an American flag appeared on the wall through the smoke-filled air. The previously distracted crowd snapped to attention, mumbling the anthem’s words in unison. I watched as cowboy hats were placed over hearts.

It was touching and yet heartbreaking. I found myself wondering how many of them actually new what the last eight years of presidency have done to their beloved Constitution. Or if they ever took the time to contemplate the painful price of liberty as our founding fathers and mothers did. A price that demands not foreign war, but the constant battle for our liberties right here at home.

The irony is that patriotism is love of country. Yet its symptoms are blind submission and a sheep-like mentality: the very things that could lead to the destruction of the country we love.

And yet, suffocated by our fear, we label dissenters as “unpatriotic.” Are you against the war in Iraq? You must not support the troops. Do you believe the government may have had previous knowledge of the events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001? You are a conspiracy wack-job. Maybe you have issues with the Patriot Act or the Military Commissions Act. If so, you are either intentionally or unintentionally aiding the terrorists.

As President George W. Bush so bluntly put it, “You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists.” This kind of absolutism leaves no wiggle room for dissent. Dissent is the number-one obligation of a patriot. In its absence, there can be no true freedom