Friday, January 7, 2011

What's Worse Than Blind Patriotism? Fake Patriotism

By David Pakman

As we know from years of opinion polls, focus groups, and even the most cursory analysis of the mainstream corporate media, there is a perception among many that conservative Republicans are independently more patriotic than liberal and progressive Democrats. The reasons that have resulted in this general assessment are varied, and a topic for another discussion. For this discussion, the relevant point is that the perception is not only slightly inaccurate, it is flat out wrong.

There is a despicable kind of hypocrisy taking place at the highest level when it comes to patriotism. The conservative anti-progress crowd has shifted from blind patriotism, the trademark of the George W. Bush era, to something even more sinister -" fake patriotism. The blind patriotism of "supporting the troops" by not questioning where they have been sent to war has resurfaced as its evil twin -"a
doppelganger, if you will -" now slightly modified to "support the troops no matter what," but don't provide proper suicide prevention resources, healthcare benefits, or the most obvious anti-patriotic exception -" don't discuss the validity and prudence of the military battles we send our troops into, which would truly be the most patriotic consideration anyone could take. Of course, another favorite is "support the troops unless they're openly gay or lesbian," a theme that became all too prevalent during the recent debate over the recently repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, and actually hurts the military significantly, as studies have shown, certainly not sounding particularly patriotic to me.

Another example of fake patriotism is encapsulated perfectly by the recent resistance that we saw in passing a bill to fund the healthcare needs of 9/11 first responders -" that is, the individuals who were first on the scene at Ground Zero, and are now suffering horrific ailments and diseases as a result of the conditions during the initial days at the site of the attacks in New York. After initial confusion about why some Republicans would choose to hold up voting on such a bill, given the constant drilling of "we support 9/11 victims," flaunting of FDNY and NYPD hats, and criticism of Democrats in Congress for allegedly not supporting 9/11 victims and first responders, it became clear that the reasoning behind the delay was shameful: The bill was to be funded in part by the closing of a tax loophole for foreign companies, many of which donated to the campaigns of the politicians stalling the bill.

If we are looking honestly, the insincerity is unmistakable. Support 9/11 first responders by holding back the healthcare they are in desperate need of to maintain a favorable tax loophole for large foreign corporations? Hard to believe it's patriotism, but remember, those individuals holding back the bill are wearing the FDNY hats and preventing a Mosque from being built in the vicinity of Ground Zero, because that's patriotic. Mistreat troops by sending them into pointless wars for political gain without proper planning, valid pretenses, a way to measure success, or any possibility of a real "win," and that's patriotic? As long as you don't question the President -" when you agree with his politics overall -" then yes, it's patriotic!

The transition from the Bush era to the first part of the Obama presidency can be described as a move from the blind patriotism with which progressives became all too familiar during the Iraq War, to fake patriotism, or in other words, patriotism when it fits with one's conservative views; Patriotism when it doesn't involve gays and lesbian soldiers on a level playing field with their straight counterparts. How many times have we simultaneously heard from the same voices "Support the troops," and "no gays in the military?"

As my producer on The David Pakman Show pointed out during a recent on-air discussion of this issue, many of the patriotic troop-supporting Republican politicians are thinking about how they can nickel and dime our troops and rescue workers, and if they aren't thinking about it, then it must come naturally, because they're doing a fantastic job of it anyway.

The entire premise becomes even more insulting when reversed. It's the Democrats and the progressive who don't care about the troops because they are actually considering where troops are being sent into harms way, why they are being sent there, and with what eventual achievements will they be allowed come home. Incredibly enough, we've circled back to a situation where progressive should be asking the question that was asked of them, incorrectly, for years: What has happened to real patriotism?

David Pakman is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio and television
program The David Pakman Show, airing on over 120 radio and television
stations, on Free Speech TV, and at

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