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Editorial: Recapturing the meaning of patriotism

In Tuesday’s installment of The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly invited fellow Fox pundit Charles Krauthammer onto the show to discuss the dismal state of patriotism in America.

O’Reilly cited a recent Pew poll that asked approximately 10,000 adults whether they “often feel proud to be an American.” Fifty-six percent said they do, while 44 percent said they do not.

When O’Reilly asked Krauthammer whether he was surprised by that second number, Krauthammer said, “No, not really.”

“The reason is,” Krauthammer said, “that if you break it down by ideology or party, it’s mostly Democrats and liberals. For conservatives, the numbers are quite high on the patriotism, the pride, the exceptionalism.”

The problem is that Krauthammer and O’Reilly were confused. They were not talking about patriotism at all. They were talking about supernationalism.

A patriot is devoted to America, but not with eyes closed. If you vote, you are patriotic. If you volunteer to help your community, you are patriotic. If you exercise your right to peacefully disagree with your government, you are patriotic. If you want the troops to come home so no more men and women die in a questionable war, you are patriotic. Inaction and ambivalence are characteristics of the unpatriotic.

Political leaders do not define America. They are merely the guides who try to bring the nation closer to the true intent of the Founding Fathers.

Along the way, America has stumbled often and continues to do so, and sometimes the guides lose sight of the destination. The nation’s patriots try to correct the course as they see it by casting ballots; political leaders lend a hand by providing a voice for their constituents. That is democracy. That is patriotism.

Pride in America is about belief in the destination, and should not ebb and flow depending on who is leading the way.

In the meantime, O’Reilly and Krauthammer would be wise to reassess the brand of patriotism they revere.

In December 1941, E.B. White wrote: “The passionate love of Americans for their America will have a lot to do with winning the war. It is an odd thing though; the very patriotism on which we now rely is the thing that must eventually be in part relinquished if the world is ever to find a lasting peace and an end to these butcheries.”

That, unfortunately, is what O’Reilly, Krauthammer and other supernationalists fail to understand.

Legacy Comments14

This is the Concord Monitor, leading from the Left, editors "redefining" what it is to be patriotic. Below, GCarson criticized me for saying that being a good citizen is not patriotic. You can be a good citizen, follow the laws, vote and pay your taxes and live a life respecting your community and still not love your country. If you read the constant barrage of posters on this forum criticizing everything from Columbus to the Pilgrims to the way our ancestors treated slaves or native Americans to dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and on and on, they don't have a love of our country, they hold on to a perverted sense of liberal guilt. They seem themselves of educated and enlightened and on a mission to right the wrongs or what they see the wrongs of the past. Modern Don Quixote's on a mission to rewrite history out of some inner guilt. Patriotism is love of country and understanding that in the age which our ancestors lived, they did the best they could, we have evolved and learned from the past.......and love our freedom and liberty, hoping to hand that on to our children. Being a good citizen is about respecting a civil society but it does not automatically qualify you as a "patriot". Moreover, people constantly criticizing our country at every turn as many of the usual suspects do here, is not patriotic, it is disdain for our system as it stands and our way of life and country in general. On a related note, in a recent survey, only 79% of the citizenry feels "free" and the United States was 36 on a list of countries where the citizenry felt free. Down from 91% in 2001.

Loosely related, but still in the patriot vein. Another media source (rhymes with Batch) is reporting that the Pierce Manse in Concord was hit by lightning during last night's storm. Must be payback for the ill-timed speech its former owner/occupant made on the NH State House lawn during the Fourth of July in 1863. Accordingly, its content dealt with how the Union would never subdue the South through military force, so should negotiate peace, immediately. Appears ex-President Franklin Pierce had yet to hear of the Yanks' victory at Gettysburg on the 3rd, or the fall of Vicksburg on the 4th. Tough one, Prez.

Apparently some people need some sparklers and a hug...

I sense a disturbing trend in America when it comes to just what patriotism is all about. We hear constantly about our forefathers and the need for shrinking government and the loss for traditional family values. All convenient talking points wrapped up nicely in a flag. Patriotism is being proud of your country and what it stands for, freedom of speech, equality, freedom of religion, All of those things, and celebrating what made us great. We celebrate those that serve, military, police, firemen, veterans and the like. We jump up and say look at us world, look what we have done and what we can do. Folks, those days have long passed into history. So now the definition of patriotism was modified to reflect that. Today we have replaced patriotism with homage to our new idol, materialism. We confuse political orientation with patriotism. Only conservatives are patriots - that belief is a slap in the face to the true meaning of patriotism. Today we vilify police, firemen, teachers and all those that once were celebrated, why, because they have retirement, pensions and benefits and others don't. We don't hold businesses to blame for loss of benefits, we blame those that haven't lost them. We now equate freedom with being able to walk around with weapons slung over our shoulders while we shop, feeling the need to have weapons for protection from the perceived threat of the police taking over. We equate freedom with telling a women what she can and can't do with her own body. We blockade buses of immigrant women and children on their way to processing centers. We now can stand up and shout - "Hey world look at what we have, and you're not getting it." If that is patriotism then I will stick with the old definition and be proud of the fact that I am not one of your patriots.

So now people want to redefine "patriotism". GCarson calls "materialism" the new patriotism. If you constantly complain about what our country stands for and continue to use retrospect to judge the greatness or our present bounty of rights and prosperity, you are NOT a patriot. 99% of that kind of opinion comes from progressives, it is a fact, as several posters here would say....'the debate is over", "97% of people agree", "it is settled", "so now the definition of patriotism is modified". Today, progressives vilify businesses, corporations, self reliance, self responsibility, hard work and the American Dream but celebrate 35 hour public "servants" and government as their new god. Progressives now want to restrict freedoms and liberty and take away rights in the name of "the public good". Self determination is now not replaced by a social safety net but by a social hammock where 49% of the population depend on government largesse (not talking about SS and Medicare) relying on others to make ends meet for themselves. We have a child like President who wants to rule as if he is the King, failing at everything he does and picking and choosing which laws he wants to follow (see immigration). Progressives, hell bent on fundamental change have no idea what Patriotism is or means and most loathe this country, our prosperity, our success, our super power status, our history and our way of life. Most of them, had they lived in the mid 1800's would have been termed traitors.

So the Monitor agrees that the Tea Party is patriotic: "If you exercise your right to peacefully disagree with your government, you are patriotic". That of course is the only point on which I agree with the Monitor. To volunteer in community service is being a good citizen but not patriotic. To "support the troops but not the war" is simple, overly moronic hyperbole and a cop out. Of you vote you are 1) exercising your right to vote and 2) taking your civic duty seriously. Patriotism is love of country, love of freedom, love of liberty, love of what this country represents......freedom and benevolence to help other lesser free people. Many posters and letter writers claim to be patriots but they constantly criticize, judge history in retrospect and support the Obama fundamental change, a change to the Constitution and a reduction of personal freedoms. That is what Krauthammer was referring to. If the shoe fits, progressives, you ought to own up and wear it.

You have reached a new low with - "To volunteer in community service is being a good citizen but not patriotic. To "support the troops but not the war" is simple, overly moronic hyperbole and a cop out. " If being a good citizen is not showing patriotism I don't know what is. Citizens make up our country and once made it great. As for patriotic wars - there have been NONE since WWII. Korea was iffy, but I won't go into that here. Vietnam was a pointless, illogical "police action" but that shouldn't reflect on those that were ordered there to fight. All the Gulf conflicts were about either oil or after 9/11 revenge. Not one of our finer periods in history. So yes we do celebrate those that put their lives on the line while not celebrating the self serving reasons behind fight. I challenge you here and know to just list one freedom or change to the constitution that you say Obama is responsible for and sets him apart from all other presidents. The challenge was rhetorical, I know it can't be answered, especially by you.

Oh GCarson, if you are suggesting that I don't support the troops, then you are playing games. No one is saying "I don't support the troops" but what I am saying that unpatriotic people do use the lame "I support the troops but not the war". By doing that you insult the troops and dismiss their service as wasted. You then completely ignored the rest of my post. One freedom? Freedom of choice concerning my health care. "especially by you", you ought to stop looking down your nose at others. You may find yourself enlightened but you are just another mindless progressive trying to 'fundamentally' change this country to some social cesspool.

Liberals always use the language to make their narrative. (supernationalists VS patriotism). We all inherently know why the left is so unpatriotic - Maybe the fact that their Emperor - The Constitutional Lawyer in the White House Has Lost Unanimously at the Supreme Court 20 Times. The PEW Poll with its massive sample simply says this..... Proud to be an American? You’re probably not a liberal.

Proud to be...? I doubt it will do any good, but you may want to consider this from Edmund Burke: "To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely." I'm sure you'll reject Samuel Johnson's statement: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." You'd much rather have patriotism defined by that great intellectual, Ronald Reagan who, unlike Burke & Johnson , made his fame and fortune by uttering other people's lines.

Hey Folks - I got my own personal stalker. When you get under their skin with enough truth - you too can have a personal stalker

Don't give yourself so much credit. Just think of me as your private fact checker. You really do provide an awfully lot to work with.

This from a gal that does not know the status of the Antarctic sea ice, has been proven wrong on Benghazi, the IRS and NObama to state a few

The last great President was Ronald Reagan. I did not agree with all of his policies and disagreed with a few including amnesty. I did not work then and it will not work now. I graduated college in the Carter years and this may sound familiar to many new college graduates but it took me a year to find a full time job and start utilizing my college degree. In fact I worked at NHH throughout college and stayed there until I could find a career path. I was forced into restaurant management, jobs were scarce and I made the best of it. I struggled until 1980 and Reagan cut taxes and I realized a whopping $40 extra per bi-weekly pay check. That tax cut helped me get my head above water and throughout the Reagan years, wages rose and jobs flourished, so much so that I would receive head hunter calls to join other companies for even better wages. That trend lasted until 2008, when the economy went South and it has gotten progressively worse. The Obama policies have killed jobs and slowed the recovery. He is anti business, anti-coal, anti-fossil fuels, anti-pharma, anti-big agriculture, anti-private medical care. Many here have posted many times that government jobs are the answer. That is total bull, a thriving private sector is the answer. The more jobs the private sector create the more competition to hire people and wages become a bidding war. But progressives want to control and create jobs through government, that is not patriotic, that is devious and insidious. Wages have been flat for 7 years. In 1977 when I started working, teachers made $6500 to $7000 per year, my first professional job was $8900 per year. Today, that same entry level job pays $34,000, the average teachers pay is about the same. These Obama years have been the most miserable I have ever experienced and I am employed and have been throughout the Obama recession. However, the stress of knowing that the next shoe could drop at any moment and knowing that the talent pool overwhelms the market, is no comfort. Patriotism means that government gets its power from the consent of the governed, not from a simple majority spewing the same rhetoric and hyperbole to advance their anti-freedom agenda at every turn.

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