Robert Reich’s Fourth of July Facebook Comment.

I know Prof. Reich from when he was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997, but he also served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.  He posted this on Facebook:

Patriotism isn’t about the superiority of one’s country or the dangers lurking inside and outside its borders, about braggadocio and exclusion. True patriotism is about the responsibilities of citizenship, about the ideals that hold us together. It requires mutual sacrifice and inclusion. One of the most patriotic people I ever knew was a young man named Mickey, a friend from my childhood. Mickey loved America so much that he went to Mississippi to register black voters when it was dangerous to do so. On June 21, 1964, Mickey — his full name was Michael Schwerner — and two other civil rights workers, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, were tortured and murdered by local members of the Ku Klux Klan, including the county sheriff. The Klansmen held American flags and sang patriotic songs, but they had nothing to do with America. Mickey was and is the America I know. His love for this nation and its ideals is what I celebrate on days like today. Happy Fourth.

I commented with this from John Hewitt’s “Neither an Elegy nor a Manifesto”

Patriotism has to do with keeping
The country in good heart, the community
Governed with justice and mercy,
These will enlist loyalty and courage often,
And sacrifice, sometimes even martyrdom.

The person who commented before me made the mistake of confusing jingoism with patriotism in that he believed the people who claim they are “patriots” whilst acting in ways which are detrimental to the nation they live in (and society in general).

Jingoism is extreme patriotism. It is fanatical, over-the-top “patriotism”.   it comes from the word  jingo, the nickname for a group of British people who always wanted to go to war to prove the superiority of Britain. Now, we use jingoism for that kind of aggressive, over the top nationalistic behaviour in any country, or for things intended to stir up war-thirst and blind patriotism. If you see someone who tries to get people to support a national policy that is aggressive or exclusionary, especially if it panders to being “patriotic” without a critical look at whether that policy necessary or practical–call it jingoism.

Not patriotism.

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