L. Neil Smith's
Number 218, April 7, 2003


Playing The Patriot Card
by Todd Andrew Barnett

Special to TLE

The American Empire's war with Iraq — officially christened as Operation: Iraqi Freedom by the Pentagon — continues to dominate the media, as many anti-war protestors in California, Washington, D.C., and New York City proceed with their agenda to speak out against our intervention. While the Bush administration and many hawks at his side ignore the anti-war cries and proceed with their goal to "liberate the people of Iraq" by "ousting" Saddam Hussein and "rebuilding" the nation, a great deal of attention has been placed upon the American public who, in general, supports our invasion of Iraq.

In the midst of the discussion on the faction of Americans who support the war with Iraq, one can see that those who support our intervention in Iraq accuse those who oppose it of being "anti-American" or being "unpatriotic." This recrimination often serves to blur the lines between which speech is anti-American and unpatriotic and which speech isn't. It also serves to eliminate legitimate discussion of true unpatriotic sentiments and anti-Americanism and propagate false claims of unpatriotic views and anti-Americanism.

Thus, the patriot card — the accusation of anti-Americanism and being "unpatriotic" by not supporting the president in time of war and by not supporting the United States' invasion of Iraq — has just made its way onto the table, the fact that it is played too often notwithstanding.

Let's look at Sean Hannity, the conservative talk radio show host and co-host of the Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes. In his recent interview with former U.S. Senator and actor Fred Thompson, Hannity, playing a video clip of leftist filmmaker Michael Moore's "unpatriotic" statements he gave to the audience on the March 23rd telecast of the Academy Awards, said, "These guys, they're so full of hatred towards President Bush. Daschle, the Hollywood left, Michael Moore. And even when their nation is at war, they can't put aside politics for five minutes. It's sad and pathetic." Thompson offers a blunt rejoinder to Sean's comments: "Well, you know, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And this is the guy that people focus in on. I was kind of impressed by the fact that apparently the guy almost got booed off the stage." And then he says the following:

"Not everybody out there feels the way that he does. Burt he's a little man who's using his hour to strut and fret across the stage. And then he will move on. He'll probably be doing industrial training films in a couple of years and nobody ever will hear of him again. So he's insignificant.

"I'm more impressed by the people who really feel like this is a sober time and this is a time that we really —— before we can criticize, demonstrate and (unintelligible), we can have a recap and a debate on the issues. But while these young people are in harm's way, let's use our energies in a positive way and not for foolishness like that."

I'd hate to have him on my jury. Seriously.

The problem is not that liberal collectivists "blame America first." The problem is that liberal collectivists have long supported our current foreign policy of intervention for many years, in spite of their selective opposition to certain kinds of intervention. The other aspect of this problem is that liberal collectivists, like their conservative counterparts, have supported morally-bankrupt, morally-decadent economic sanctions (which are embargoes) on nations such as Cuba, North Korea, and Iraq.

In all fairness to the conservative collectivists, liberal collectivists did not object to former President Clinton's sanctions against and invasion of Iraq. (This was accomplished via bombing runs and enforcing the illegal no-fly zones, which have decimated many regions of the country and produced widespread famine among the Iraqi citizens.) But then conservative collectivists did not object to former President Bush's sanctions against and invasion of Iraq either, and neither any of them objected to former President Nixon's intervention in Vietnam.

The other part of the problem is that conservative collectivists have long supported the statist foreign policy under which every conservative administration has served. But the tragedy not even admitted by them, the media, and the current administration is that they have had a monopoly on the policy, even though the left has long been in support of that position for decades.

The grimmest and most horrifying aspect of this problem is that these same collectivists are unable to distinguish the government's unconscionable act of killing innocent Iraqi civilians via sanctions and sending foreign aid to the Iraqi regime and the so-called "blaming of America" for its actions in the Middle East. (Keep in mind that these collectivists are employing the "blame America first" excuse as a means to squelch frank discussion about the true intentions of the Bush administration and the anti-American, unpatriotic actions of the Bush administration, its supporters, and the American public.)

Whenever the patriot card is dealt off the bottom of the deck, it becomes quite clear that those who are victimized by the accusations (meaning those who oppose our intervention in Iraq — even ideologically pure libertarians) immediately view the charges with immense skepticism. It is becoming clear that each accused person is responding to this card with an immense amount of backlash and negativity, due to the extreme tone and manner in which the card was played.

Don't they know that this is a dangerous game they're playing? Don't they see that these types of recriminations only serve to divide America and to create factions who will eventually war with each other? It is obvious that they have no idea of what real patriotism is and what it truly entails.

True patriotism is not about one individual handing over blind allegiance to his government, along with the intent of expressing love for his government. True patriotism is about one individual expressing love for his homeland. To confuse patriotism with unswerving loyalty and obedience to the government is a formula for perversion of the concept, along with the union of political propaganda and outrageous rhetoric. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country."

The idiocy of the card stems from the fact that it is the conservative collectivists and their cronies — not those who refuse to toe the "you're-either-with-us-or-you're-with-Saddam" line — who have sired the "blame America first" mentality. Let's be honest here: do they really believe those claims they are making? Or isn't it just possible that they are aware of the lie but will do anything to persecute those who refuse to go along with Bush's agenda?

On the other hand, it is fair to point out that the liberal collectivists do share some of the blame in this mess. After all, some of them supported Bush's intervention in Afghanistan, in an effort to find the terrorists. For them to monopolize the anti-war rhetoric just proves that they are intellectually dishonest to the core. By claiming that they own the right to this issue illustrates the point that they are just as cowardly as their conservative counterparts.

By the same taken, the conservative collectivists who screamed bloody murder during President Clinton's interventions in Haiti, Somalia, and Kosovo think they own the right to the intervention issue. Where was their "patriotism" then?

The point of the matter is this — both sides are just exploiting the war for their own gain. It's just a matter of time until the real truth about the war comes out. Hopefully by then the nation will be directed into a libertarian direction - one in which the principles of freedom are restored and the spirit of true patriotism is resurrected.

©2003 by Todd Andrew Barnett. Permission to reprint any portion of or the entire article is hereby granted, provided that the author's name and credentials are included.


Help Support TLE by patronizing our advertisers and affiliates. We cheerfully accept donations!

to advance to the next article
to return to the previous article
Table of Contents
to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 218, April 7, 2003