Fans kicked out of Boston baseball stadium for ambiguous anti-racism banner

I’m just trying to propose some kind of solution here, and while I think patriotism has problems in the long run, I think appealing to patriotism for the common good is a better tactic than complaining about how America is racist and leaving it at that. You can feel secure knowing you’re ideologically pure and correct, but it won’t get you anywhere, particularly in the USA. The political tug-of-war is going to go on forever unless both sides can agree on something.

And we’re not going to get anywhere only appealing to millenials. The sad fact is that America’s “socialist awakening” is still going to be “socialism lite.” I’m not happy about it, but I’m at least realistic. As they say “elections are won in the middle.”

What solution to you propose, and how realistic is that solution, knowing the workings of American politics?

Interesting. The child of a career American military officer, I was taught from an early age never to accept how things appeared on the surface, only to respect authority I could question.

It was never alive.

Yes, you’re using the word patriotism in the modern perverted sense as a synonym for jingoism and nationalism. You aren’t alone in this, and in fact most Americans also don’t understand what patriotism is. Normally that would be fine, a natural evolution of words shifting meaning over time. But actual patriotism is in fact really important. It doesn’t have to be called patriotism, but the underlying ethic is worth preserving.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” ~ For Whom the Bell Tolls by John Donne

In the original sense, patriotism is love of country, not nation. It is loyalty to one’s compatriots, not a government. It does not preclude being a good citizen of the world because it isn’t about the other, it’s about being a good part of your communities. A wise person recognizes that conflict and war, whether at home or within the scope of wider communities up to and including the entire world, are corrosive to the community at every level.

Democracy and freedom existed long before the United States of America and they will exist long after. The USA is great insofar as it upholds them, and so we must to preserve our liberty. Those that would give up on them do no favors for anyone, least of all themselves.

There is certainly no shortage of people who mistake nationalism for patriotism, or who propagate jingoism under the banner of patriotism. Jingoism is a dangerous thing, as are people who cannot distinguish between jingoism and patriotism or between the republic, its symbols and its government.

Uncritical approval is insidious. If you never criticize the flaws in something, you do it a grievous disservice. A parent who never admonishes ill prepares their children for life. A teacher who only gives praise is a poor mentor. A citizen who finds no fault in the body politic is no patriot, but an unprincipled sycophant.

So long as you endeavor to make your country a better place for you and your neighbors, you are a patriot. Affinity for one’s own republic does not equal belligerence towards others. Life is not a zero sum game despite what many politicians and religious leaders would like you to believe. Not only do you not have to choose between affinity for your homeland and humanity, the choice itself is a false dichotomy. In the long run – and usually in the short run – what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Groupthink is not patriotism; it is politics.

In a boarder sense a patriot must be a human patriot as well. The best way to make the world a better place is by striving to make your own republic a better citizen of the world. The ideals enshrined in the U.S. Constitution are not unique to America, they transcend any one nation. Those principles are not exclusively American; they are in fact human principles. That fact offers great hope. Democracy and freedom are valued by peoples everywhere. Liberty is a universal concern.

Loathsome are the politicians and pundits criticizing each other for not wearing flag pins on the campaign trail. Their efforts to worship a symbol instead of attending to what it stands for are despicable.

The American flag is a symbol representing a republic based on a constitution enshrining principles, nothing more and nothing less. Cling to those principles because they are the best hope our nation has for the future. Fly the flag only if you do so because of what it stands for, not because of blind pride. The flag is a symbol of the constitution. The idea of destroying the constitution to protect that symbol is nothing less than traitorous.

Ultimately, the more emotional an idea, the lest it can be trusted. Patriotic feeling is treacherous.


I think what you’re missing isn’t some sort of soaring American virtue or greatness, but rather how thoroughly most Americans (white ones especially) have been convinced that such things exist.


Indeed. Some of us here in America see it too.


Holy shit, I had not thought of that, but you’re spot on here…



The problem with appealing to patriotism is that you are facing a fascist government that is rapidly succeeding in closing off all avenues of constitutional resistance. There is no realistic possibility of a legitimately conducted federal election under Trump.

This is going to be settled in the streets, not at the ballot box. And the fascist side, as predicted long ago, will be marketed like this:


The Trumpeters will be claiming to defend the Constitution. The left will be openly calling for an overthrow of normal political procedure. Patriotic fetishisation of the Constitution is not on your side.

Sustained, massive, non-violent non-destructive disruptive civil disobedience. Targeted at the money of the 0.01%. Shut the country down.

It isn’t a protest, it’s a revolution.

This is not a fun or easy solution. But the only other option is global fascism.


Morris? Do I need to go google this?


Alright, that indeed seems to be a different definition of patriotism, that definition actually comes a lot closer to “all people are equal ideal” I set up as opposite to it, too bad that’s not the currently prevailing definition. “The left” should reclaim the word with this better definition.

Yeah if even someone growing up in a different country like me can be convinced of this I’m sure the effect is much stronger when you actually grow up there and you and everybody you know identifies with it. The media we consume is not as benign as it seems.


Oh, I think you owe it to yourself…

I’ll wait.


You seem to be using the word in the sense of a synonym for nationalism. In which case I vehemently disagree. Appealing to emotions of national identity is a tactic that appeals to base instincts, and the results of doing so have consistently diminished us all. Also, I think you’re drawing a false dichotomy. The choices aren’t nationalism or complaining. The choices are nationalism or responsible civic activism.

On the contrary. Ideological purity is the very driver of political polarization. Adhering to what your political tribe espouses because it’s what it espouses is precisely how we wound up in this mess. Principles, and standing by them, are the only thing that will get us out of it.

While I don’t want to feed the marketing myth of generations, my (very possibly incorrect) understanding is that the prevailing sentiment among the age groups normally lumped into millennials is to reject labels in general as overly simplistic.


I’m fairly Left by most people’s standards - though I arrived there by individual principles rather than identifying as being on the Left - but I don’t think the original sense of patriotism is about progressive vs central vs traditional. OTOH, actual conservatives (in the historic millennia-old sense) have all but vanished in US and now the American Right is dominated by fascists whose sole interest in tradition is in augmenting the racist and classist power structures protecting the ruling classes, tossing out the good and embracing the evils of the past.

I actually don’t think it’s important to reclaim or save the word’s original definition. In fact, I think fighting the evolution of words is a largely useless endeavor.

I do think it’s important, particularly with galvanizing words such as this one, to remember that not everyone is on the same edition of the dictionary, and so to judge people by their actions. In other words, instead of assuming whether or not someone who says they’re a patriot is a nationalist, look to their other words and actions to see what they mean by it.

All that said, I don’t go around promulgating the things I said above, and I largely just avoid the word itself. Mostly I don’t consider it worth spending much energy on. I’m quite happy to talk about it, but I generally only talk about it (in the hopes of offering some clarity as to why some seem to have a definition at odds with the more current one) when someone asks about it such as in your original comment.


I think all of this just boils down to what symbols mean to you. Ones concept of “country” is largely as a status as a symbol. I don’t think there is a problem with associating your country with “good”. In most cases those people are probably right, even those with some serious problems. I am pretty sure most people in Ireland associate Ireland with being a “good” thing, and even leaving a positive foot print overall in the world today.

The US, even with all the bad things it does, does to a lot of good things as well. I guess one can still make a case for ones’ base opinion to be “good” or “bad”. When people get upset about flag burning and the like, I remind them that they are just symbols. Symbols are mostly dependent on the VIEWER for their meaning. What a person takes away from viewing symbol largely depends on the context and their world view and experiences. So something like the American flag can represent America’s ideals (even if it doesn’t live up to them a lot of the times), and the ancestors who fought to maintain those ideals as well as defeat various factions who threatened it and its European neighbors. Or it can represent the America that has failed so many people with its various bad policies.

Any symbol can do this, even then hated Swastika. Most of the time it will illicit rage and contempt, when in relation to Nazis or current white power groups. But it can also illicit curiosity, neutral feelings, and even positive emotions when viewed in the context of things like its use as a Buddhist symbol, a good luck symbol and design element common even in America pre the 1930s, and a Native American symbol used as a healing symbol by the Navajo and other tribes until the 30.

And I’ll repeat, while having a baseline of “good” isn’t a bad thing, if one isn’t open to recognizing the “bad” things, then that is a bad thing. But I still contend, even if America maybe has a more warped/inflated view of itself, most people view their countries as “good”. I will even give you that some of them are “brainwashed” into believing this, but I am not arguing that. I am just saying if you polled these people more than 50% would answer yes to “Is your country ‘good’?”

Hmm. Mildly disappointing it wasn’t this guy dancing… but neat. Probably have seen this before with out knowing what it was called.

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But that’s simply not the issue here – you’re derailing again. The issue is the U.S. and its endemic, foundational racism, and how so many Americans believe, despite those foundations in theft and genocide, and despite the ongoing realities of division and exploitative abuse at home and abroad, that their country is the greatest that’s ever existed on earth.

Of course most people in some other countries view their countries as good; that’s both beside the point and obvious.


And that’s why it will fail. I know enough about Americans to know they won’t go for this. It will alienate the left from the masses of lazy couch potatoes who make up most of the populace.

American politics are a pendulum, and Trump, owing to the fact that he’s incompetent, will swing things back to the middle and left simply by being Trump.

I think you’re misunderstanding me. I actually AM espousing responsible civic activism, but I’m trying to paint it as patriotism to make it more appealing to those who would criticize it. I want to show people that Colin Kaepernick kneels for the national anthem not because he hates the USA, but because he loves it and is disappointed in it. I can’t remember who said this originally (I suppose I should google) but saying “my country right or wrong is like saying my mother drunk or sober-- I want my country to be right, and I want my mother to be sober, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them when I criticize them.”


No. He won’t.

This is not normal. You are in the latter stages of a fascist revolution, and Niemoller began reciting his poem quite some time ago.

You still have a brief window before the situation becomes totally irretrievable.

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I wish I could believe that. I think the only way US politics is getting any where near anything the rest of the world would consider the middle is with several generations of concerted campaigning. And I don’t see much sign of there being any group in the US doing that (although I have seen some stuff from the Democratic Socialists of America which looks like a damn good start.)

I agree with that.

I think appealing primarily to emotional motives in order to encourage principled action almost always backfire.

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I think it’s more about encouraging principled action by explaining the principles in language the emotionally invested can even let themselves hear.


I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. My own take on the situation is that the GOP is worried about losing mid-term elections, and there are already signs they may be right with Republican congressmen retiring rather than face re-election.

When the shit hits the fan in terms of economics and social problems the masses will rise up, but not before, and not because of civil disobedience they can’t immediately relate to.