What does being a patriot means to a be full-blooded American patriot? For many, the stereotypical image of American patriot includes a pickup truck with an American flag waving in the wind as he (because it’s usually a white male) trucks down an open highway. Or, it could be dressing up as a Marvel superhero and claiming you are the symbol of freedom. Although tacky and painted with a broad brush, some people who are patriots fit this description.
Looking from the outside in, people see us as a pot of hooting and hollering greasy Americans. To those observing, patriots are always “hoorah hoorah America,” who will defend their countries name no matter what. When it comes to militarism and fighting for your country, what role does patriotism play? A person's’ love for their own country is a beautiful thing, right? The expectation that you would do anything to improve it as a productive member of society. Pay your debt for living in such a place through taxes, and sometimes pay with your life when fighting for freedom. Many of the wars that are fought on U.S. soil have been for freedom. Some examples include the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the War of 1812, and WWII. In no way is Patriotism inherently a bad thing but we do see instances where it is misused in War.
In order to understand something we have to know the history. When America was first being formed, Nathan Hale, a soldier for the continental army, laid down the new America. His last words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country”. The relationship between patriotism and can be a very slippery slope. It is most dangerous when it slowly becomes a reason for war instead of serving as a reason to conserve peace.
It is safe to say that it flourishes as deep love for your own country but it can become something more harmful when you introduce means of violence and force. A good example of this is the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. After the terror attacks of 9/11, America has been on the watch for similar instances ever since. The war first established to combat the terror attacks but quickly became about fulfilling a duty: preserving America’s freedom which was in no way threatened. For around twenty years, this was being fought on the basis that those who loved America would be willing to die to protect it. As the US occupied Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places in the middle east, it was evident that al Qaeda controlled the majority of the country. The toxicity of patriotism comes into play because of a lot of what we believed the war was being fought to counter terrorism. But in reality, I would say that it was truly being fought for a democratically controlled government, or at least something relatively close to it. Anything closer to an ideal American for in government would be enough for America. Both sides loved their country dearly as one should. David Noise from Psychology today says, It’s been called the last refuge of scoundrels. “It is undeniably linked to“us-against-them” tribal impulses, rooted in emotion and often impervious to reason. It feeds nationalism and militarism,...” The war fueled by patriotism took nearly twenty years to come to an end and even now, people are confused to why it was fought in the first place.
An integral part that plays into who we are as people is what we take in from the media. We have stations like ABC, FOX, and CNN reporting on the horrors of war and how “our troops are fighting” for our freedom. Not only is it about what the news is reporting, but also who they’re reporting on.
In our current political climate and all of the controversy surrounding government politics, the center of it all has been President Donald Trump. If you tune into a news station, it’s more than likely you will see the President speaking about a new policy that will, “Make America Great Again.” For Trump, part of that work included praising America’s military. “[Trump] famously tried to get the Pentagon to throw a massive parade for Veterans Day, with missiles and tanks and flags rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Tina Nguyen a reporter for The Hive newspaper writes. That parade would reportedly cost 92 million dollars. Of course, other Trump supporters fully supported this idea because their leader thought it was a great idea, but also because they are already conditioned to love the military, that’s what America is all about. True patriotic behavior.
As Americans, we should not continue this culture of blindly following ideas that might leave questioning ourselves or this country. In no way is patriotism a bad thing. It just so happens when left to interpretation, it can easily become dangerous and violent. Treading the line between good and evil is not enough to call our country inherently good if whenever we get into the affairs of others it turns out bad. Patriotism can be molded into what Americans want it to be, to serve whatever purpose for whatever reason. But love for something should never be the reason we go and destroy something else.