Unpatriotic and loyal

7 December, 2006

Does the USA have a monopoly on patriotism? Its brand of patriotism is certainly an exception in the West, where most people are a little more objective about such things, i.e. your country is like a sports team you cheer for, rather than a religion you proselytise and kill for. Standing around a flag in your front yard to recite the pledge of allegiance is an act of religious devotion, isn’t it? I think that for some US citizens, patriotism is a form of idolatry. That’s not an idea you’ll hear in the Sunday sermon.

I’m not patriotic. I don’t think my country is the best in the world. I don’t think anyone who criticises my country should be beaten and locked up. I don’t want to have to thank my country for the privilege of living there – what’s it gonna do, send me a postcard?

I’m not patriotic, but I am loyal. This is where I live, where my friends and family are. From this, I naturally want what’s best for them, and for my city, and for the environment. I also want peaceful relations with our neighbouring countries, and prosperity for them as well. I appreciate that people suffered in wars for my country’s freedom (even if most of those wars were rather ill-advised).

But I’m not going to wave the flag. The flag is too often used as an icon to deter criticism. Never trust a politician (or anyone else) who wraps themself in the flag – there’s never a good reason for it (unless it’s really cold!).

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