While surfing through the OxBlog links, I tripped over this article in Dissent by Michael Kazin…‘A Patriotic Left’:
I love my country. I love its passionate and endlessly inventive culture, its remarkably diverse landscape, its agonizing and wonderful history. I particularly cherish its civic ideals-social equality, individual liberty, a populist democracy-and the unending struggle to put their laudable, if often contradictory, claims into practice. I realize that patriotism, like any powerful ideology, is a “construction” with multiple uses, some of which I abhor. But I persist in drawing stimulation and pride from my American identity.
Regrettably, this is not a popular sentiment on the contemporary left. Antiwar activists view patriotism as a smokescreen for U.S. hegemony, while radical academics mock the notion of “American exceptionalism” as a relic of the cold war, a triumphal myth we should quickly outgrow. All the rallying around the flag after September 11 increased the disdain many leftists feel for the sentiment that lies behind it. “The globe, not the flag, is the symbol that’s wanted now,” scolded Katha Pollitt in the Nation. Noam Chomsky described patriotic blather as simply the governing elite’s way of telling its subjects, “You shut up and be obedient, and I’ll relentlessly advance my own interests.”
Both views betray an ignorance of American history, as well as a quixotic desire to leap from a distasteful present to a gauzy future liberated from the fetters of nationalism. Love of country was a demotic faith long before September 11, a fact that previous lefts understood and attempted to turn to their advantage. In the United States, Karl Marx’s dictum that the workers have no country has been refuted time and again. It has been not wage earners but the upper classes-from New England gentry on the Grand Tour a century ago to globe-trotting executives and cybertech professionals today-who view America with an ambivalent shrug, reminiscent of Gertrude Stein’s line, “America is my country, Paris is my hometown.”
Yup, America is my country…I like the sound of that…