Showing posts with label nationalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nationalism. Show all posts

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy Flag Day

If you're not convinced that nationalism is cultish, look up the rules for the proper handling of an American flag. My favorites:

  • The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
  • The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Can You Really Love Your Country?

Why do people get upset with Barack Obama for not wearing a flag pin on his lapel or with Michelle Obama for suggesting she’s not been proud of her country until now? Why is failing to “support the troops” regarded as a sin?

Because it’s a secular blasphemy to do or say anything that suggests you don’t love your country. But why should you love your country? Most people would say our country has done so much for us that we should show our gratitude.

But what has “our country” done for us? An even better question is: what is “our country”?

The rest of this week's op-ed, "Can You Really Love Your Country?" is at The Future of Freedom Foundation website.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Was Rev. Wright Right?

Yes and no. Most of the particulars that I heard Barack Obama's former preacher, Jeremiah Wright, cite -- the government's atomic bombing of innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, its foreign policy of oppression and murder, its enslavement and then humiliation of black people, its racially motivated "drug war" -- should be fair game. (His collectivist racism and his theory about AIDS as a means of genocide are off the wall.)

But in damning "America," Rev. Wright makes an error similar to those who claim to be proud of "America." What is America? The doctrine of nationalism encourages people to identify country with state. The two are integrated into one. This is a dangerous move because it leads people to think that if they criticize the state, they are criticizing the "country." (That's why it is considered improper for an American to dissent from government policy while in another country.) It also leads them to think that an attack on the state they live under is an attack on them.

The idea of country is an abstraction that subsumes many things, admirable, condemnable, and neutral. The Declaration of Independence and Revolution are part of the country. My home is part of the country. But so are slavery, the Trail of Tears, Jim Crow, imperialism, colonialism, conscription, aggressive wars, carpet bombing of cities, the A-bombs, the early centralization of power and betrayal of the revolution, and so on. No one should let himself be trapped by the question, Are you proud of your country? (Leave aside the fact that taking pride in things you had nothing to do with seems problematic.) What the heck does that mean? If it means, Are you proud of the government and the people who run it? then my answer is no.

Nationalism is a scourge, an ever-present threat to liberty. This is a point worth making whenever possible. I don't salute flags. I don't pledge allegiance. I don't sing national anthems. I don't wear flag lapel pins. I refuse to mouth platitudes about pride in the country. I admire specific things in American history, and I'm happy to enumerate them if asked. But I will have no part of package deals that are ultimately designed to win unthinking loyalty to the state and acceptance of its crimes.

P.S. David Henderson has an excellent column on this subject here. I agree with his partial defense of Wright and his criticism of Obama.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Damn Nationalism

Several days of news coverage were taken up this week by Michelle Obama's remark to the effect that for the first time in her adult life she is "proud of her country." Predictably, the right-wing came down on her with maximum force. Bill O'Reilly said he might join a "lynching party" for her (good choice of words, Mr. O'Reilly) if she meant what he feared she meant.

According to our civic religion -- nationalism/state-worship -- nothing is worse than confessing that one lacks, or at one time lacked, such pride.

Excuse me, but what the hell does it mean to have pride in one's country?

I know what the right wing means: pride in the government's record of foreign and domestic aggression. So let me declare here and now: I have no pride in that whatsoever!

If the right means something else, let it say so. I, for one, want nothing to do with nation or state worship. The last thing I would be proud of is a country. (I admire what some people in the country have done and said, but that's something else.) That you can send people into apoplexy by saying this speaks volumes.

Why don't they grow up?