Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fourth of July thoughts on patriotism, Part 1

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else." -Teddy Roosevelt

One of the newspapers in my community features a column called “Community Views.” In it, six people are asked a certain question, and a brief response is printed.

In honor of the upcoming holiday, this week’s question asked how respondents show patriotism. A couple of people said they fly the flag. One noted that he served in the Navy. Then one person declared that her way of showing patriotism was by “not bashing the president.”

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard someone claim that it’s our patriotic duty to support our president and not ‘bash’ or ‘whine about’ him. But this one got me thinking.

First, many of George W. Bush’s predecessors have stated that dissent, even in a time of war, is an important cornerstone of our country. Note, for example, the above quote from early 20th-century patriot Teddy Roosevelt.

And then consider the words of Senator Trent Lott during Clinton’s presidency in 1999: “You can support our troops without supporting our president.”

And yet, when someone stands up for American values by speaking out against this president’s immoral war, they are often criticized and labeled unpatriotic - or worse. Look at how Valerie Plame was victimized after her husband called Bush out on weapons of mass destruction.

It’s amazing how the power of incumbency can cause politicians to flip-flop, isn’t it?

Oh well. Happy Fourth of July!

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