Monday, February 4, 2013

Patriotism vs Nationalism



Every now and then I find myself in a discussion where I am being accused of being anti-American, or unpatriotic. I'd wager that these accusations are false, and rather speak of the accuser's Nationalism more than it speaks of anyone's Patriotism. I will openly admit that I am fond of both the United Kingdom and Japan, but is that really a problem? For one guy I know it is. To him everything has to start, stop and live USA. Somehow, being fond of the architecture, history and culture of another country becomes a problem... Newsflash! I can like things about the UK and also still like things about the US. Shocking, I know. According to him, liking something that is 'non-American' or criticizing something about America is unpatriotic. But is it really? He also refuses to but things not made in the USA if he can help it, only because they are US made. Personally, I don't see how buying a different product is a problem if I perceive it to be the better option or a better value. If I were to buy a product for the express reason that it was NOT made in the USA, then I wouldn't have a problem with an accusation of being unpatriotic. But what if you buy a product because it's made in the USA, fully aware of a product that may better suit your needs? What if you don't buy other products only because they are not US made? I'd wager that some reasons would point toward Nationalism, rather than Patriotism. A recent accusation came up when a study found that among other industrialized nations, US schools placed 27th among math and science schools. At this point I opined that these scores weren't anywhere good enough and that something needed to be done to get these scores up. I started comparing the US public school system to those of other countries that did much better than us and suggested that their system could be used as an example to improve ours. Somehow that innocent critique was taken as a scathing criticism of America. The same has happened when I compared Japan's crime rate with ours and when I have criticized some US policy. But again, how is any of this unpatriotic? This person paints a picture of always standing in step with the US no matter what. The US does something, and it's right only because the US did it. The government says something is wrong, and it magically becomes wrong. Another company does better in science testing but he'll claim that the US system is still better because it's the US system. This sort of thinking is not patriotic, it is nationalistic. Though it is funny when it comes up that I like tea and not coffee, or the I don't care for American football but do like soccer. Suddenly it "coffee is America's drink!", or "Football is America's game!", and it is insinuated that if I'm not a football loving, coffee drinking, apple oie eating, beer swilling rebalrouser, that I'm not a 'true American'. Yup, the arrgument basiclly sounds like, "Coffee, because 'Merica!!!". But enough of that tangent... Sure, I may point out areas where the US is currently coming up short, but that isn't unpatriotic. I see a country that used to be great at education, but see it slowly falling behind. Is a suggestion to try and return it to it's days of success an bad thing? On the contrary, I feel that calling for the nation to return to the glory it once held as quite patriotic. Same will the passing of the DNAA. I opposed it's passing a still do, due to it's allowance for the government of the United States to indefinitely detain US citizens with no due process. That is something that I feel is inherently American. Sure, I may be standing against the US in that ruling, but in this case opposing the DNAA is the patriotic thing to do. Sometimes disagreeing with the country or feeling we can learn from others is inherently patriotic. That is because patriotism is not standing with the country, because is it your country. Nay, patriotism means believing in the country and what it stands for... or it's founding principles. The US has a long history of denouncing torture, so when the military decides to torture anyway, then the denouncing of the country's actions becomes the patriotic thing to do. That is because it is violation of what makes America, America. Same with falling test scores. Admitting that we're coming up short where we once excelled and looking for inspiration elsewhere for the good of the future of America is in the country's best interest. So, standing with America can be patriotic. But if you take it too far it can become nationalistic. However, patriotism can sometimes ask you to stand against your country's actions or ask for it to do better. Doing so to stand up to the country's founding priciples and return it to former glory may not be the easiest course of action, but it is certainly the honest and proud thing to do.

-BH


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