Monday, September 17, 2012

Jingoist vs patriot

This is going to be a relatively short post. I just want to address a phrase that I hear a lot of in political discussions. Sometimes, although very rarely, the phrase is used in what I would consider a legitimate sense. Most of the time, however, it is not. The phrase is, "If you don't like America, then leave!"

On its face, this seems like a fair enough phrase. I can imagine it being used against someone complaining that the United States isn't a communist nation, or a theocracy, or a monarchy, or any of the other things that stand in direct opposition to how our founders define our nation. In fact, if you look at the words, that's what they mean. "If you don't like America." Well, what defines America more than the Constitution and its Bill of Rights that...well, define America?

But people who use this phrase aren't often using against those people are stand against the constitution. Rather, we often hear it used against people standing up for the constitution. We hear it used against people complaining about the TSA,  NDAA 2012, the Patriot Act, the unconstitutional wars. The people who use the phrase in this context, do it under the pretense of being "patriotic." But is it patriotic to allow the government to take away the rights that for so many years defined America? Can you claim to love America, while simultaneously allowing the people in charge to redefine what it means to be American?

Jingoism, when used colloquially, means someone who blindly stands by their government no matter what. That is not patriotism, and it is not what it means to be an American. In order to prove that statement, I only need point out that it is not what the first Americans did. If George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Peyton Randolph, and all of the other men instrumental in our revolution had just said, "Well, I don't like it here, so I'm going to France!" then there would be no America for us to love. Those men made it very clear that when you see the rights that no government has the right to grant nor deny you being taken away, you do something about it.

Of course, I'm not saying that we pick up our muskets and have at it with the powers that be. But being vocal about our objections to their actions, and actively supporting liberty candidates who seek to restore our rights, are not actions that should be met with, "If you don't like America, leave." They are actions which should be met with respect, if not joined in on.

And just in case their actions weren't enough proof, here are some quotes from the founders that show their feelings on the issue:

What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? - Thomas Jefferson 
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. - Thomas Jefferson
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. - Thomas Jefferson 
I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! - Patrick Henry
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Benjamin Franklin
Given these quotes, I find it hard to believe anyone would accuse those who seek to defend our constitution when the men and women elected to preserve it refuse to take that responsibility unto themselves of not loving America enough. I say to those people this, it is not I who does not love this country. It is you, who would turn your back on its defining principles rather than stand against those in power who seek to erase them from the minds of the populace. When so many great men gave their very lives for the freedoms they secured for us, it is a sad day when so few are willing to even give pressure to our politicians to restore them.

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