4.9 Editor's Pick
July 5, 2008

True Patriotism isn’t Aggression. It’s Love.

*Check out some of Elephant’s best Fourth of July blogs:

>> Frederick Douglass’ great-great-great Grandchildren revisit his Iconic Fourth of July Speech.
>> 5 Reasons I Don’t Celebrate Traditional 4th of July Activities.
>> American Flag Etiquette.
>> Not-So-Happy 4th of July for Dogs.


True patriotism isn’t macho aggression. It’s active love.

Patriotism isn’t mere rah-rah flag-waving machismo “love it or leave it.” It’s working to the values we aspire to, and not letting fascists co-opt the symbols of our democracy.

Celebrate democracy, if not the State of our America, this July 4th. Democracy needs us right now.

Patriotism is not the same thing as Nationalism. Don’t let Nationalist Haters steal your love of your home country.

Love of country needn’t be a bad thing. It can be a good thing, a love of love. Love, as in relationships, can and must include criticism, honesty. Not cult-like worship, which is Nationalism. 

We (those of us who aim to be mindful, kind, awake, aware) celebrate the fourth of July, or any country’s birthday, not out of arrogance, or nationalism, or hate…but out of love for the people, for the vision of ideals, for bending the arc of history toward justice.

Read more, below: “According to the US Flag Code “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery”, and “should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.”

There’s so much hate in America, these days. That’s because, every time there’s a moment…we throw fuel on the fire, instead of bringing folks together. That’s not a partisan statement–we revels in insults, lies, and righteous anger.

I don’t see the world as a hateful place. We don’t. We see America, even drowning in hatred and conspiracy theories, as a country full of humans who would rather be kind, decent, thoughtful, and live everyday wholesome lives. ~ ed.


*This* is the kind of America we can *all* celebrate:

An honest, hopeful one.

This video represents honesty, and true patriotism, which is not subservience, but full love, which includes room for respectful disagreement and improvement. This is a July Fourth we all can celebrate:

I am just another Liberal American Patriot.

Like taking a knee, respectful and peaceful yet fierce protest is vital to liberty. Liberty is fragile, even in a country like America.

Yesterday, biking home with Redford, I passed a college dorm with the Colorado and US flags hanging from the balcony, drooping onto the floor of that balcony, dirty and muddy with rain—why don’t patriots protest against that? No Boy or Girl Scout troop I know would be okay with such treatment of our flag.

Our flag is not the symbol of oppression—though I get that it is to some—it is the symbol of freedom itself—not the state of equal, full freedom that many of our citizens still don’t enjoy, but our ideal. And so it symbolizes our right to protest—a fundamental human right our sisters and brothers are celebrating in Hong Kong despite brutality, mass arrests and tear gas. A right they don’t enjoy in China—where the media is silenced, and the Tiananmen Square anniversary went poof.

So celebrate protest, if non-violent. Condemn false patriotism which does not get this right. And protect the freedom of the press by subscribing to your favorite quality paper that gives you truth and open dialogue in community.

Bonus: We Are America ft. John Cena:

When I grew up, I learned to love America—Lincoln’s cabin, FDR’s vision, unions, the free press, our ideals. But we studied the Civil Rights movement, our oppression of the Native Americans, the internment of our Japanese citizens, Watergate. My love wasn’t a macho naïveté—it was a love for, as President Obama liked to say, our potential to bend the arc of history toward justice.

“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” ~ Albert Einstein (consider the context)

Don’t let nationalists, bigots or bullies steal patriotism. True patriots love the ever-imperfect realization of the values of their country. True heroes know the hell that is war and do not glorify it, for they know its cost. True patriots, as in any relationship, express criticism respectfully. Patriotism is about more than flag-waving–it is about community, and taking the time to listen and talk with those we might think we disagree with.

American Patriotism is about Self-Government & Fundamental Rights…not flag waving. Not Nationalism:

“Nationalism does nothing but teach you how to hate people you’ve never met– all of a sudden you take pride in accomplishments you had no part in whatsoever… if you’re American you’ll go “Fuck the French! Fuck the French, if we hadn’t have saved their ass in two World Wars, they’d be speakin’ German right now!” And you go, “Oh, was that us?” Was that me and you, Tommy, we saved the French? Jesus! I know I blacked out a little after that fourth shot of Jägermeister last night, but I don’t remember… I know we were going through the Wendy’s drive-thru to get one of them “Freshetta” sandwiches that looked so alluring on the commercial, but then we ordered it and realized we had no money, and we had to ditch out before the second window, and those douchebags in line behind us with the bass music probably got our order and we laughed about that. But I don’t remember savin’ the French. At all! I went through the last ten calls on my cell phone and there’s nothin’–incoming or outgoing–to the French, lookin’ for muscle on a project! I checked my pants, there’s no mud stains on the knees from when we were garroting Krauts in the trenches at Verdun. I think “we” didn’t do anything but watch sports bloopers while we got hammered. I think “we” should shut the fuck up! “

~ Doug Stanhope


“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” ~ James Baldwin

Patriotism is not nationalism. Know the difference. Don’t let far-right Nationalists co-opt the US flag.


As for those who wear the USA flag on shirts and hats, however innocently, traditionally the Boy Scouts and military would consider such to be disrespectful. You don’t treat the flag like fashion. You raise it solemnly, gratefully, silently acknowledging all that it symbolizes.

Our flag symbolizes our freedoms, not our uncritical support of whatever Administration happens to be in power; and so when I see liberals wear tee-shirts with upside-down American flags it makes me sad.

When I see Neoconvervatives who never served in the military criticize Barack Obama for not wearing a (Made in China) American lapel pin at all times, it reminds me that we are confused. Patriotism in other countries might be like rooting for a football or baseball or basketball or soccer team: you’re either for ’em or against ’em, no matter what they do.

But America is and always has been first and foremost an idea, an ideal. Thomas Jefferson wrote a long criticism of slavery into the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. In America, even Neo Nazis—or any ideology we might disagree with—has the same Freedom of Expression that we do. The media, however bought and paid for, has the right to speak truth to power without fear of retribution (in an age of blogging, this right is newly powerful, as it is newly independent).

As a liberal patriot, I love America like a brother or sister who might veer left or right of the razor’s edge of truth and integrity. So I criticize America, because America is by, for and of the people, and we have retained the right, nay duty to criticize our self-government.

But I do not disrespect America. I am a liberal. I am a American patriot. I am just another liberal American patriot, and I say here that the flag is as much mine as it is yours, and I say that the wisdom to vote for a lesser evil, for an imperfect man or woman is my most sacred of duties.


The way out of partisanship ain’t further aggression or civil war. And it ain’t kumbaya, either–it’s 1) conversation, listening, and 2) being willing to call a spade a spade, without soapboxing. ⁠

May we all remember that the law matters, that actions matter, that on-the-record admissions matter, that refusals-to-testify matters, that service matters, and that we need to come together around some simple facts, here.⁠

And so, tonight, this being Independence day, I’ll raise a microbrew and I’ll say—as an American Buddhist, free to worship in one of the rare governments that separates church and state—”God Bless America.”

> Let’s respect the values of free speech, right to assembly and a nation that too slowly evolves—but does evolve—if nothing else.

Just saw a party animal wearing red white and blue and stars and waving a flag, half dragging it on the ground. Flag etiquette, folks.

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” ~ Mark Twain


One more bonus: always love Battle Hymn:


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Superman, an illegal alien, contributed greatly to this great nation. We must be great in our progress, in our ideals, not great in our arrogance, our fanaticism. ⁠ ⁠ In #linkinbio, read my “This—not Flag-Waving—marks a True Patriot” for a definition of Patriotism that we all can celebrate. Hint: it ain’t the same thing as nationalism. ~ @WaylonLewis ⁠ ⁠ #happy4th ⁠ ⁠ Our country is about coming together, not hatred. Our history is wildly imperfect, but our values are liberty, opportunity, equality, and once uttered we must search them out. Let us all come together, united, against racism, otherwise, old hate, petty hate, and violence. ? “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”⁠ ~ MLK Jr. ? ⁠ ⁠ “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”⁠ ~ Arthur Schopenhauer ?? ⁠ ⁠ Share your story and thoughts on how we go forward: elephantjournal.com/submit ??⁠ ⁠ #independenceday #happyfourthofjuly #julyfourth #july4th #liberty #justice #kindness #makelovegreatagain #hate #equality #peaceonearth #thedonald #altright #racism #beofbenefit ??⁠ ⁠ ? On Elephant, in #linkinbio below, read my “I’m just another Liberal Patriot,” on reclaiming the flag as a symbol of our ideals, not nationalism. And watch Joe Biden’s July 4th video, in my stories. It’s right on. #votejoe #allamerican

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