Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are You a Patriot?

Patricia O'Malley

"Patriot Day" was created in memory of the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001. I'll never forget that terrible day, and I'm sure you won't either. Unfortunately, some people have twisted the meaning of the term "patriot". A patriot is "a proud supporter or defender of his or her country and its way of life". (Encarta Dictionary) There's more to patriotism than flying the flag and saying the right words. A patriot should know something about her/his own country's laws, principles, and customs. A patriot should behave in ways that demonstrate the nation's values.

The Constitution expresses America's most important principles. Among those are the inherent and sacred equality of every member of our society - regardless of race, sex, religion, social status, income, or political persuasion. That means that each person has the right to hold and express their opinions on public issues. We have the freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. We have the rights to privacy and security in our homes and lives. We have rights when we are arrested and tried for crimes. We have the right to equal protection of all of the laws.

We also have the same responsibilities - to be responsible citizens, to inform ourselves about current issues and events, to pay attention to what our representatives are doing, to communicate our wishes and priorities on the issues important to us. And to vote.

Our Constitution defines and limits the government's powers, requires Congress to oversee government operations, and guarantees justice to all residents. All elected officials, all police officers, and many other public employees take an oath to uphold the constitution. This means that none of their official acts can violate constitutional principles. However, their actions often contradict that oath.

• Wearing a flag lapel pin while threatening and intimidating someone who disagrees with you at a town hall meeting does not make you a patriot. It makes you a hypocrite.

• Denying civil rights to lesbians and gays, Muslims, and people who don't look like you does not make you a patriot. It makes you a multiphobe.

• Taking an oath to uphold the Constitution, yet refusing to read it, does not make you a patriot. It makes you a coward.

• Serving in the U.S. military while adamantly remaining completely ignorant of the principles upon which the United States was founded does not make you a patriot.
And you all know who you are.

• Charging outrageous admission prices to a private party on September 11 does not make you a patriot. It makes you a whore. Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.

• Lying about the content of health insurance reform legislation to protect the profits of private insurance companies does not make you a patriot. It makes you a fraud, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Michele Bachman, and Mitch McConnell.

• Ridiculing the people who devote their lives to helping your poorest citizens in your poorest communities does not make you a patriot. It makes you a selfish, arrogant snob, Sarah Palin.

• Burning sacred books in a country founded on religious tolerance does not make you a patriot. It makes you a bigot, Terry Jones.

• Denying health care to 911 responders to enhance your obstruction campaign does not make you a patriot, Senate Republicans.

Disparaging the character of hard-working citizens who have fallen on hard times brought to them by your greedy, selfish buddies, and then handing balloons to their kids at the Labor Day parade does not make you a patriot, Tom Corbett.

• Urging the public to use "second amendment remedies" to solve their political differences does not make you a patriot. It makes you a traitor, Sharron Angle.

• Protecting war criminals by refusing to prosecute torture does not make you a patriot, Barack Obama.

• Condoning blatant police brutality and near murder in direct violation of legal, civil, and human rights does not make you a patriot LUKE RAVENSTAHL AND THE GANG OF NINE.

• Refusing to do your job because it's not fun, or it's not politically profitable does not make you a patriot, LUKE RAVENSTAHL AND THE GANG OF NINE.

America's founders spent a lot of time trying to get it just right. They neglected their homes, their families, and their work to create something that would benefit all of us - even today. It's not perfect, but it is remarkable.

I don't know why so many Americans - including many of our elected representatives - think it's acceptable to ignore these principles. We deserve better. We can protect America without abandoning the ideals that make us American. It's time for all of us to do it.
You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it. Malcolm X (1925 - 1965)
Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons. Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)

Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.
George Jean Nathan (1882 - 1958)

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