What happened to patriotism?

us_flagLet’s talk about patriotism.

Patriotism is, generally speaking, cultural attachment to one’s homeland or devotion to one’s country, although interpretations of the term vary with context, geography and political ideology. It is a set of concepts closely related to those of nationalism.

That’s Wikipedia’s current (30 Sep 2014) definition of the word. Like just about any other subject nowadays, it carries a tone of caution, and almost politically tiptoes around the idea. In recent years, national pride, whether cultural or political, has become a controversial subject. Images like American bald eagles and the stars and stripes pictured above have become the subject of satire and mockery by the general public, with their image tied to fringe conservatives. (and, apparently, Nazis. Godwin’s Law, I guess.) Look at the recent reboots of Captain America — ever notice how drab the red, white, and blue has become? For that matter, even my involvement with the Boy Scouts has drawn questions, to the tune of “But you’re not Republican enough for that!”

Why must I be a “backwoods, fat, snaggletoothed drunk Republican from Texas” to care about my country?

Clearly, there is concern for what blind patriotism has done in recent history. Great atrocities have been done throughout mankind’s history “for the glory of <country>!” Propaganda, fear-mongering, and global big-sticking (and the suffering it has created) have tainted the image of the US, in particular. On the other hand, though, mass media sensationalism, radical individuals, and corruption of power can be held equally to blame.

Despite this, Old Glory seems to have taken the fall for just about everything bad we, the people have done. Contemporary cowardice has driven us away from our nation and the great things it has done (rather, what we have done), simply because, as a society, we are unable to own up and admit our mistakes, and have become very quick to shift the blame onto the country that we, on some level, don’t want to be associated with.

So, when I say I’m proud to be an American, that doesn’t mean I support everything my country’s people have supported, nor does it make me fat and bigoted.

All it means is that I’ve come to love the slice of the world I was born in, and the people that live around me. I don’t love any other people less for it, and by no means do I support my government in all cases.

In short, I’m nothing more than a man who loves his country. Label me how you will.