Patriotism vs. Nationalism

Menstuff® has compiled the following information looking at the differences between patriotism and nationalism.

The Changing Face of Patriotism
10 Questions For Ann Coulter
Star-Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem
Up in Arms: A guide to Oregon's Patriot Movement (188 page pdf file)

The Changing Face of Patriotism

Americans like to think of themselves as patriotic. They have been saying as much to pollsters for years. Men, women, old people, younger people, rich people, poor people, whites, blacks, urbanites, farmers: Nearly everyone says roughly the same thing.

But pollsters tend not to ask what people mean when they say they are patriotic. The meaning of patriotism has always been a moving target. It has meant different things to different people at different times in history. Like the flag, it is open to reinterpretation.

Over the past two centuries, patriotism has been invoked to make the case for all sorts of things: military sacrifice, conscientious objection, unity, dissent, inclusion, exclusion, anti-Communism, anti-Catholicism, tax cuts, a living wage (not to mention cigars and shopping).

"Who was the patriot in 1861?" asked Walter Berns, an emeritus professor of history at Georgetown University. "Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant? In a way, it depends on how you define patriotism. If patriotism is simply a kind of filial piety, my country right or wrong, then the case for Lee can be made."

"Because, as Lee himself said, he could not raise his hand against his family, his children, his state," Professor Berns said, referring to Lee's decision to decline the offer to command the Union Army. "If, on the other hand, patriotism means devotion to a particular political idea, then clearly Grant was the patriot and Lee was not. That, in a sense, is part of the problem that we face even today."

To some, patriotism is unquestioning loyalty to the nation. To others, it carries with it expectations that the government will give something in return. Women have experienced patriotism differently than men. Blacks and Indians have experienced it differently than whites.

In good times, the patriotic reflex weakens. In times of crisis, patriotism thrives.

What about anxious periods, like the present? David M. Kennedy, a professor of history at Stanford University, finds that periods of chronic anxiety have been known to produce "patriotism of quite a cranky sort."

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, anxiety about immigration spawned the American Protective League, an anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant group. The Ku Klux Klan was revived. But there was also a surge of reform under Theodore Roosevelt.

"These moments of anxiety, it seems to me, have both an unlovely and quite a progressive and productive face to them potentially," Professor Kennedy said. As for today, he said the full patriotic potential is not yet clear. So far, the record is mixed.

"On the one hand, we get what some would say is the overreaction on the part of the Justice Department about how much tolerance and diversity we can afford," he said. "On the other hand, you have gestures by the president toward inclusiveness."

There are a number of things that Americans say they agree on. They tell pollsters they believe in God, like their jobs and think extramarital sex is almost always wrong. And in many, many polls, nine out of 10 people describe themselves as either patriotic or proud to be American.

In a poll last September by ABC News and The Washington Post, 91 percent said they were extremely or very proud to be American. Two percent were not at all proud. Ninety-seven percent said they were very or somewhat proud of the armed forces. Two percent were not.

A poll last August by the Pew Research Center found that 92 percent of people agreed "completely" or "mostly" with the statement "I am very patriotic." Six percent disagreed. The percentage of people agreeing completely, 54 percent, was almost the highest in two decades.

Not all groups are equally ardent. Some researchers find that older people, white people, conservative Republicans and rural people are more likely to call themselves highly patriotic; younger people, African-Americans, liberals, urbanites and college graduates are slightly less likely.

"But we can get tripped up if we only look at the `extremely' patriotic," said Karlyn H. Bowman, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a research group in Washington, who studies public opinion. "If you look at the `extremely' and `very,' they all look pretty much alike."

The word patriot began as a neutral term, meaning fellow countryman. But the rebellion and upheaval of 17th-century England changed that. Patriotism came to imply adherence to certain principles — the rights of the citizen and opposition to tyranny.

"That's why the rebels in America in the next century called themselves patriots," said Amy Fried, a political scientist at the University of Maine. "So patriotism has a sense also then in the 18th century to do with support for citizens against the overweening and inappropriate powers of the state.

"You don't really start to get the support-for-the-state ideal until the late 19th century, which is a time of the expanding role of the United States in world affairs."

Historians say the Civil War also reshaped the definition. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 broadened it from simply a willingness to die for one's country; it began to encompass the idea that the government must live up to the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

"That creates two different traditions that we have had that constantly are in struggle against one another," said Cecilia Elizabeth O'Leary, the author of "To Die For: The Paradox of American Patriotism" (Princeton, 1999). One implies unquestioning loyalty; the other entails democratic participation and an insistence upon upholding the ideals that the country represents.

During the Spanish-American War, she said, those two traditions could be seen in both the willingness of Americans to fight in Cuba and an anti-imperialist movement in the United States in response to the United States' invasion of the Philippines.

In the 20th century, she and others say, the unquestioning form of patriotism found its expression in turn-of-the-century nativism, the Red Scare, the internment of Japanese- Americans during World War II, McCarthyism and the Vietnam-era slogan "America, love it or leave it."

The more reciprocal notion of patriotism was evident in the Double V campaign by African-Americans during World War II. They argued for not just a victory against fascism but a victory against racism and inequality at home.

After Vietnam, Watergate and the cold war, patriotic culture seemed to fade. Its expression became commercial: What to buy? Many have also remarked on a dwindling of civic engagement, a sinking of the level of political discourse.

In response, one group, the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington, began a campaign several years ago to encourage a "new patriotism" — one that carries with it a commitment to remain engaged in public and civic life.

"It simply means love and devotion to one's country," Richard C. Harwood, the group's founder, said of the word patriotism. "If you're truly devoted to something, you stick with it even when you don't like it. And you try to do what is good and right."

Not everyone is equally sanguine.

"The Samuel Johnson line is still the best and the truest: `Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,' " said Alan Ehrenhalt, the executive editor of Governing magazine. "Not because there is not such a thing as genuine patriotism. But it tends to get buried under tons of claptrap. The vast majority of the time, people invoke patriotism in defense of principles that they can't logically defend in any other way."

Source: Janny Scott, The New York Times,  

10 Questions For Ann Coulter

When Ann Coulter published Slander last year, she didn't just score a surprise No. 1 best seller; she also discovered an entire new audience hungry for her notoriously sharp-tongued, unabashedly right-wing rhetoric. Now she's back with Treason (Crown Forum; 355 pages), and as Time's Lev Grossman discovered, she has in no way mellowed with age.

So what's the new book about?

The idea of the book is that liberals have a tendency to take the position most disadvantageous to their country. This isn't anything new. They have taken patriotism off the table as a topic for political debate. And they've done that by invoking McCarthyism, a myth of their own creation.

Are you prepared for people to freak out when they realize you're trying to rehabilitate Joseph McCarthy?

On the basis of doing my research, I've noticed that liberals have been hysterical about McCarthy for 50 years and no one's been arguing back. So now that someone's arguing back, yes, I'm expecting candlelight vigils.

In Treason you say, "Liberals' principal contribution to the war on terrorism has been to bill themselves as a corrective to 'jingoism.' Their real goal is too appalling to state out loud." Care to state it out loud?

They are rooting against America. I don't think there is any other way to explain hysterical claims of a civil-liberties emergency in this country every time John Ashcroft talks to a Muslim. No serious person thinks that we are in the middle of a civil-liberties crisis. We have just seen thousands of fellow Americans slaughtered by legal immigrants to this country. And John Ashcroft has detained several hundred illegal immigrants?

Your tone can be a little shrill sometimes. Don't you think that what we need right now is unity, not more acrimony?

What we need now is to fight the war on terrorism, and liberals don't want to. I think it's more important long term that we have two parties, both of which want to defend the nation.

Do you see a way forward for Americans to come together politically, as a country?

Oh, yes. I do. The Democratic Party has got to go away. It's got to just hang up its stirrups. I really think it has functionally gone the way of the Whigs, and it's just a matter of enough Democrats figuring that out. Can't both parties agree on the defense of America? I mean, it was not like this in World War II. The Republicans were not constantly taunting F.D.R., "Well, he doesn't have Hitler yet! He doesn't have Hitler! Where are these alleged death camps?" The country pulled together! Both parties!

Are you concerned that President Bush may have exaggerated evidence for the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

No. People who love their country ought to be more concerned about what happened to those weapons. Are they in Syria? Are they in al-Qaeda's hands? Are they going to end up in New York? And instead, all we get is female taunting from the Democrats.

Did you say female taunting? What does that mean exactly?

[Laughs.] I think your readers will understand it.

Treason came out shortly after Hillary Clinton's book. Whose is going to sell better?

I was not happy to find out that her book — her three ghostwriters' book — was coming out a few weeks before mine. But I'm completely confident that among real readers, in any fair fight, I could beat her. And also that more people will actually read my book.

What's your take on the Supreme Court's ruling that antisodomy laws are unconstitutional?

Gay sex may well be a mystery of life, but I'll be damned if I can find it in the Constitution.

Do interviewers try to provoke you into saying outrageous things just because you're Ann Coulter?

No. I do that on my own.

Source: Shonna Valeska, Time Magazine,,9171,1101030714-463080,00.html

Star-Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem

Most people don’t know there’s more than one verse to the national anthem, and it’s the third that’s a doozy.

Americans generally get a failing grade when it comes to knowing our “patriotic songs.” I know more people who can recite “America, F–k Yeah” from Team America than “America the Beautiful.” “Yankee Doodle”? No one older than a fifth-grader in chorus class remembers the full song. “God Bless America”? More people know the Rev. Jeremiah Wright remix than the actual full lyrics of the song. Most black folks don’t even know “the black national anthem.” (There’s a great story about Bill Clinton being at an NAACP meeting where he was the only one who knew it past the first line. Bill Clinton: Woke in the ’90s.)

In the case of our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” perhaps not knowing the full lyrics is a good thing. It is one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon, and you would be wise to cut it from your Fourth of July playlist.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” as most Americans know it, is only a couple of lines. In fact, if you look up the song on Google, only the most famous lyrics pop up on Page 1:

Oh say can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched
Were so gallantly streaming.

And thy rocket’s red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through thee night,
That our flag was still there.

Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

The story, as most of us are told, is that Francis Scott Key was a prisoner on a British ship during the War of 1812 and wrote this poem while watching the American troops battle back the invading British in Baltimore. That—as is the case with 99 percent of history that is taught in public schools and regurgitated by the mainstream press—is less than half the story.

To understand the full “Star-Spangled Banner” story, you have to understand the author. Key was an aristocrat and city prosecutor in Washington, D.C. He was, like most enlightened men at the time, not against slavery; he just thought that since blacks were mentally inferior, masters should treat them with more Christian kindness. He supported sending free blacks (not slaves) back to Africa and, with a few exceptions, was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time.

Of particular note was Key’s opposition to the idea of the Colonial Marines. The Marines were a battalion of runaway slaves who joined with the British Royal Army in exchange for their freedom. The Marines were not only a terrifying example of what slaves would do if given the chance, but also a repudiation of the white superiority that men like Key were so invested in.

All of these ideas and concepts came together around Aug. 24, 1815, at the Battle of Bladensburg, where Key, who was serving as a lieutenant at the time, ran into a battalion of Colonial Marines. His troops were taken to the woodshed by the very black folks he disdained, and he fled back to his home in Georgetown to lick his wounds. The British troops, emboldened by their victory in Bladensburg, then marched into Washington, D.C., burning the Library of Congress, the Capitol Building and the White House. You can imagine that Key was very much in his feelings seeing black soldiers trampling on the city he so desperately loved.

A few weeks later, in September of 1815, far from being a captive, Key was on a British boat begging for the release of one of his friends, a doctor named William Beanes. Key was on the boat waiting to see if the British would release his friend when he observed the bloody battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Sept. 13, 1815. America lost the battle but managed to inflict heavy casualties on the British in the process. This inspired Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” right then and there, but no one remembers that he wrote a full third stanza decrying the former slaves who were now working for the British army:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In other words, Key was saying that the blood of all the former slaves and “hirelings” on the battlefield will wash away the pollution of the British invaders. With Key still bitter that some black soldiers got the best of him a few weeks earlier, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is as much a patriotic song as it is a diss track to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom. Perhaps that’s why it took almost 100 years for the song to become the national anthem.

To hear more of the story, there is an excellent short documentary about the history of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by some students at Morgan State University. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to switch up your Fourth of July patriotic playlist.

Jason Johnson, political editor at The Root, is a professor of political science at Morgan State’s School of Global Journalism and Communication and is a frequent guest on MSNBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera International, Fox Business News and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Follow him on Twitter.


*    *    *

Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
Menstuff® Directory
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of Gordon Clay
©1996-2019, Gordon Clay