The Anti-Empire Report
Read this or George W. Bush will be president the rest of your life
July 4, 2008
by William Blum
Some thoughts on “patriotism” written on July 4
Most important thought: I’m sick and tired of this thing called “patriotism”.
The Japanese pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor were being patriotic. The German people who supported Hitler and his conquests were being patriotic, fighting for the Fatherland. All the Latin American military dictators who overthrew democratically-elected governments and routinely tortured people were being patriotic — saving their beloved country from “communism”.
General Augusto Pinochet of Chile: “I would like to be remembered as a man who served his country.”
P.W. Botha, former president of apartheid South Africa: “I am not going to repent. I am not going to ask for favours. What I did, I did for my country.”
Pol Pot, mass murderer of Cambodia: “I want you to know that everything I did, I did for my country.”
Tony Blair, former British prime minister, defending his role in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis: “I did what I thought was right for our country.”
I won’t bore you with what George W. has said.
At the end of World War II, the United States gave moral lectures to their German prisoners and to the German people on the inadmissibility of pleading that their participation in the holocaust was in obedience to their legitimate government. To prove to them how legally inadmissable this defense was, the World War II allies hanged the leading examples of such patriotic loyalty.
I was once asked after a talk: “Do you love America?” I answered: “No”. After pausing for a few seconds to let that sink in amidst several nervous giggles in the audience, I continued with: “I don’t love any country. I’m a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, democracy, an economy which puts people before profits.”
I don’t make much of a distinction between patriotism and nationalism. Some writers equate patriotism with allegiance to one’s country and government, while defining nationalism as sentiments of ethno-national superiority. However defined, in practice the psychological and behavioral manifestations of nationalism and patriotism — and the impact of such sentiments on actual policies — are not easily distinguishable.