I put this in Wrath, instead of dizzy, not because of where it begins, but because of where it may go.
“Are you a patriot?” This was the question put to one of my classmates, and he physically moved backward like he was faced with a loaded weapon. This was in a history class with a cartoonishly leftist professor. He had a very confrontational style; it was one where he expected, almost begged, students to push back. I liked it, because it was contrary to the “bully-indoctrinator” narrative of leftist professors often peddled by the neocons. He would challenge you on your ideas, and expected to be challenged on his. He wanted his students to be articulate, and his style to was pull your thoughts out of you. But it meant that every question was adversarial, and so I saw very conservative students hesitate to answer what would have been a simple question, or even something they would profess openly to the professor after class, but who didn’t know if they could defend it.
All in all it was a crazy class, but I learned a lot about narrative in history, and how we support historical narratives. But I put this question out to the rest of you (irrespective of your nationality):
Are you a patriot? Why?
I find myself willing to answer this question with a firm and resolute yes, despite my strong dislike for the nation-state construct. It has nothing to do with believing in the promise of America, or the basic purity of its constitution. I’m not a fan of the popular American patriotic style: Stars and stripes forever, we won WWII, the Soviets couldn’t beat us, etc. Instead, it’s more about how I am product of American culture by accident of birth. I’m also the product of the statist paradigm in which I was born. The best way for me to move through the world is to integrate and engage heavily with my community to move it forward as best as I can. This is where I live, where I speak the language, and where I have the greatest stake. The promise of America becomes, in effect, the promise of all people seeking better lives. This means better, more moral, less corrupt governance, and the least disruption of that government. I find this more satisfying and logical than starting with (and never questioning) the premise, “We’re the best!” Certainly there are patriots of other countries who deal with the certitude of knowing, beyond all doubt, that there are objectively better countries. After all, what kind of patriot abandons their country when the chips are down?