Patriotism (n): love for or devotion to one’s country
Questioning someone’s patriotism has long been a tried and true tactic for shutting down protest. Americans who questioned government surveillance after the attacks on September 11th were chastised for not being patriotic or supporting our fighting men and women overseas. Those who spoke out against Joseph McCarthy’s witch-hunt for Communists and communist-sympathizers found themselves black-listed in the 1950’s for being un-American.
The Republican establishment in Washington, D.C. has even recently used this patriotism tactic as a weapon against Hilary Clinton and her supporters in reference to the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
Patriotism is–according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary–love for or devotion to one’s country. There’s nothing in that definition that excludes someone who questions the government’s actions from being patriotic. They can love and be devoted to their country and also question the actions of its government.
I’d argue that those who question their government are actually the most patriotic. Because they’re the ones forcing our leaders to justify their actions and to call them out when their actions don’t align with the goals of the people. It’s plenty easy to go round and round defending one’s patriotism in light of questioning the government. But going round and round proving one’s patriotism takes time that a person won’t be spending questioning the government.
It’s a diversionary tactic. It distracts from the real issue–whatever that issue is–while the person justifies their patriotism. And that gives the accuser plenty of time to keep doing what they were doing before they were questioned.
It’s never really about patriotism.
Two very important pieces of news broke in early December: a secret CIA investigation revealed that Russia attempted to sway the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump and certain Republicans knew before Election Day. One Republican who knew, Mitch McConnell, purposefully withheld that information from the public. And interestingly enough, his wife has been appointed to a position in the presidential cabinet.
The Republican identity has long been associated with the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance and soldiers. It’s all about patriotism and loving one’s country and the good ol’ boys. Republicans are often the ones accusing others of being un-patriotic.
For a group of people who routinely questions other people’s patriotism, it’s awfully telling that they’re okay with a foreign government interfering in our presidential election. How do I know that they’re okay with it? Because they didn’t shout it from the rooftops the moment they got the information. Because they kept that information close to their chests throughout the election and even after Election Day.
It was never about patriotism. It was about distracting everyone as the Republicans got exactly what they wanted, whether it was passing legislation or getting themselves into positions of power. They do not care about this country or about ensuring that the government serves the American people.
They’re in it for themselves. Period.