Many people believe that they are patriotic people. But, what truly makes one patriotic? In “Saying Goodbye to Patriotism” Robert Jensen critiques the effects of patriotism on today’s modern society, the United States, and globalization after the attacks on 9/11. Jensen defines patriotism in his talk delivered to the Peace Action National Congress as “love and loyal or zealous support of one’s own country.” (Jensen 741) But, that is not the only definition of patriotism. One may love living in the United States so does that make them patriotic? Patriotism is probably one of the hardest words to define in today’s society.
Jensen presents two alternative definitions of patriotism in his speech. The first one suggests that patriotism is to defend our country because it was attacked, and that must mean that there is a need to defend the United States and the citizens of the United States must support. Perhaps, this definition is the one that George W. Bush had been taught. In his speech he states, “we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger and anger into resolution.
Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” Just nine days after the attacks on 9/11 and already a plan to fight back was being constructed. In Fahrenheit 9/11, Lila Lipscomb supported this definition of patriotism, but that was before her son was killed in action. Patriotism was probably the last thing on her mind as she grieved the death of her son. Perhaps she has a different outlook on patriotism after her experience. Perhaps a lot of people who lost a loved one during a war that they are not sure what they are fighting for.
The other definition as given by Jensen speaks of the following: “exercising our judgment, evaluating policies, engaging in discussion, and organizing to try to help see that the best policies are enacted.” But how many people can actually say that they practice those activities on a daily basis? Politicians probably will tell you that they do, but not even members of congress read the bills that they vote on as seen in Fahrenheit 9/11. To quote John Conyers, “Sit down, my son. We don’t read most of the bills.” These are the exact words from the congressman on how they were going to pass the Patriot Act without reading it. If our leaders don’t have the right idea of patriotism then how are the citizens in which are run under them supposed to get the right message about patriotism? If the leaders of the country just keep creating policies and the majority of the citizens just accept them as they are, then this country really isn’t that big of a democracy as one may think it is.
In Jensen’s talk, he also gives a quote of Emma Goldman’s that states, “Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, and more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all others.” This sounds a lot more like what patriotism is today. War is something that has always existed and even in this modern day in age, it is still considered the best way to resolve conflict. Jensen feels war in Afghanistan is barbaric because of the fact that people seem to think that their lives are more valuable than Afghanistan citizens and if innocent Afghans have to die then so be it to achieve the goals of the United States.
But, are the goals of the United States truly patriotic? What are the real goals of the United States as it embarks on a new war on Iraq? From an Afghani American’s standpoint Tamim Ansary compares modern day Afghanistan to Nazi Germany and he does a pretty good comparison when he states; “When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think bin Laden, think .