Patriotism vs. Jingoism
Posted by aogThursday, 12 June 2003 at 21:37
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A recurring question is whether it's patriotic to question one's own country. I'm not sure about other nations but certainly in the US there is no fundamental reason why questioning is upatriotic. Like any human institution, our nation is a flawed one and it's part of the greatness of the US that we, the citizens, can criticize it. Patriotism shades in to jingoism when that questioning ceases, when the country is no longer viewed as doing things because they're right but that things are right because the country does them. This can sometimes be hard to separate because the US, far more than other nations, lives up to its principles.
The other side of the coin is when criticism shades in to anti-patriotism. A key criteria on which to judge this is whether, given a choice between the US and another country, the critic chooses the other country _when it is worse on that criteria_. Consider, for instance, the question of whether the invasion of Iraq was about oil. That's clearly not the case for the US but oil (or equivalently the money from the oil) was a large factor in the foreign policy of nations like France and Russia. Anti-patriotism is criticizing the US for its oil policy while embracing the positions of France and Russia which were far more guilty on that point than the US. If someone spoke only ill of his spouse, running her down constantly and comparing her unfavorably to every other woman, even when the other woman was more guilty of the fault in question, and made up lies to make her look even worse, would we say that such a man loves his wife? Can we not say that such a man is abusing his wife without condemning all criticism? Real patriots admit fault, but do not judge their country on a different scale than others and defend their country when in doubt.