On Sept. 22, 2008 The Cedar Rapids Gazette published my letter to the editor, titled, “Americans should reject new type of patriotism.” Too few people got the message, so here it comes again.
Americans should reject new type of patriotism
Most veterans don’t talk much about their service. Concerned that we might lose our lives in combat, we signed up and mustered out hoping to make the military a better place by devoting our best efforts to it in the defense of our values. We did it for duty, honor and country, and this is the essence of patriotism.
Patriotism does not belong to a political party. Veterans pay attention to where the country is going, engage in public discourse, and believe it is our responsibility to do so.
Yet there is a new form of patriotism that is unacceptable: the patriotism that proclaims “America first.” True patriotism concerns itself with ethics, law and devotion to the common good.The new patriotism concerns itself with the moral responsibilities toward other members of “our” group and by definition diminishes responsibilities toward non-members. New patriotism manifests itself in English-only legislation, poor treatment of returning casualties of war, and blindness to the effects of war on foreign populations.
New patriotism can accept extreme poverty, famine and genocide in African countries. New patriotism says, “what’s in it for me?” without regard for the impacts that wish fulfillment may have on the rest of society.
As a veteran, I will have none of this new patriotism, nor should any of us if we care about our country.