Responsibility

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big picture stuff, conservatism

Awhile back I wrote a post called “Patriotism v. Nationalism,” which was followed up by “Patriotism v. Paranoia,” “Patriotism v. Francis Fukuyama,” “Patriotism v. Hate Speech,” and probably some other posts. Anyway, in the first post I repeated some quotes about patriotism and nationalism I found in Bartlett’s. Here are some of them, again:

The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war. — Sidney J. Harris

Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill and calling for larger spurs and brighter beaks. I fear that nationalism is one of England’s many spurious gifts to the world. — Richard Aldington

“Responsibility” seems to be a common theme:

What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility … a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. — Adlai Stevenson

I contend that the primary difference between patriots and nationalists is that patriots value responsibility, while nationalists value loyalty. So you know that when you read this, you are reading the words of a nationalist, not a patriot.

The “this” is Little Lulu, publishing photographs of Iranian men being bashed by the Iranian religious compliance police for wearing Western dress. They are distressing photographs; the Iranian religious compliance police represent the moral/religious absolutism I warned against in this morning’s “Wisdom of Doubt” post. For the record, I’m against it.

However, Lulu loses me when she writes crap like this:

Question: Will these photos be blared across the front pages of the international media with as much disgust and condemnation as the photos of Abu Ghraib or the manufactured Gitmo Koran-flushing riots?

Answer: Fat chance.

This is where the patriot (like me) and the nationalist (like Lulu) part company. There are many horrible things going on right now in this world, things that shock and horrify anyone with a heart. But as a patriot, I feel a special responsibility toward what my country does and particular anguish when it’s in the wrong.

Lulu refuses to acknowledge the wrongdoing and accept the responsibility; she is interested only in blind loyalty.

On some level — human and spiritual — we’re all responsible for “the whole catastrophe,” as my old Zen teacher used to put it. But as a citizen of this country, it is my duty to speak up when my country has done something wrong. This is not “hating America,” as twits like Lulu assume. It is what a patriot does.

Lulu continues,

Question: What do leftist apologists for the Iranian regime have to say about the brutal, appalling, and escalating crackdown on human rights? Yeah, you, Rosie.

Answer: Nothing.

The word “nothing” is linked to some videos of Rosie O’Donnell, whom Malkin seems to think is the designated spokesperson of the entire Left. Rosie is the new Ward Churchill.

It goes on. In fact, I don’t blog about everything that concerns me, because I don’t have time, although some lefties have spoken out against human rights abuses in Iran — here and here are two examples. I send a small donation monthly to Amnesty International because human rights abuses around the globe concern me deeply.

However, as a blogger, I focus on human rights abuses perpetrated by my own country, because I’m more directly responsible for what my country does than for what the government of Iran does. And I think if all citizens of all countries took responsibility for their own nations’ actions instead of pointing fingers at everybody else, the world would be a better place.

And I’ve been having this conversation with wingnuts since the late 1960s. It flies right over their pointy little heads every time.

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9 Comments

  1. moonbat  •  Jun 24, 2007 @2:16 pm

    …I’ve been having this conversation with wingnuts since the late 1960s. It flies right over their pointy little heads every time.

    I don’t go that far back, but nonetheless, this conversation is getting mighty tedious. I’d like to move. Life is way too short to waste it around idiots who refuse to learn. And who are actively working to take all of us down with them.

  2. Jackson Lichtenstein  •  Jun 24, 2007 @3:26 pm

    This is a little off the topic but I just had this thought.
    What would happen if we all performed an actual “Surge For Peace” at a synchronized moment,
    say, midnight on the 4th of July for example, wherein everyone opposed to the war would simply
    turn on all of their power at home?
    I often wonder if it really is true that a majority of citizens actually care about ending the
    war and I think this might be an easy way to find out for sure. I mean, would it be enough to
    cause problems with the power grid? I don’t really know, but it seems to me that if very many
    people did it at the same time it could really wreak havoc and provide us all with a great way
    of knowing instantly just how powerful we can be if we work together!
    I imagine the Surge For Peace as a wave that would start in all of the large cities of the far
    east and slowly make its way, hour by hour, around the globe. Midnight would be a good time
    because power use is typically low at night and the surge would thus be more noticeable, but
    it’s not so late that it would be too difficult for people to stay awake. Perhaps the best
    thing about the Surge For Peace is that we can do it from our own homes but it would be almost
    as effective as if we all went to Washington DC and marched on the Capitol!
    Just be careful not to turn on too much power and trip the breakers in your own house because
    that would completely defeat the whole purpose. Maybe just turn on all of the lights and the
    microwave, plus a blow dryer and the entertainment system? Or whatever, you know what I mean.
    Is the internet truly powerful enough to spread a message like this around the world?
    I think if the Surge For Peace could work it would really feel like a revolution!
    Or, would a power surge of that size speed up global warming too much to make it worth while?
    Aw shucks.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 24, 2007 @5:56 pm

    Sadly, I had a great laugh today…
    On CNN, Wolf was asking the Vietnamese Prime Minister about “Human Right’s” abuses, that our President said they were guilty of.

    This is why I’m not a a politician, or a diplomat: I would have laughed right in his face!!!
    “Our abuses’s? Our ABUSES’S?!?” What about your’s, Mr. President Bush?
    How dare you lecture us, when you keep stocking Guantanomo Bay?”
    YOU are a PIG!!!

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 24, 2007 @5:56 pm

    Sadly, I had a great laugh today…
    On CNN, Wolf was asking the Vietnamese Prime Minister about “Human Right’s” abuses, that our President said they were guilty of.

    This is why I’m not a a politician, or a diplomat: I would have laughed right in his face!!!
    “Our abuses’s? Our ABUSES’S?!?” What about your’s, Mr. President Bush?
    How dare you lecture us, when you keep stocking Guantanomo Bay?”
    YOU, are a PIG!!!

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 24, 2007 @6:03 pm

    Oooop’s!!!! Sorry about that…

  6. Donnie McDaniel  •  Jun 24, 2007 @8:16 pm

    The people on the right are getting more wingnuttier by the day. I have had to prove my prior service in the Marines more than once. The most common thing they do is just come out and rebuke you if you have something patriotic to say. Then when the proof is shown, they backoff and they give a little “I’m sorry for using the word alleged” and never once show any guilt for actually questioning your service or patriotism. Very tacky, but just as common.

    That is what I see in Malkin. The typical rightie that just rolls over and goes on to the next faux outrage even after being proven wrong. People like her and Dan Reihl can really test your gag reflex to the max! They just don’t want to understand that as a patriot, my job is to clean up my own back yard. It’s kinda hard to point at someone else and declare their yard to be trashy for the old clunker there if yours looks like an exploded garage sale.

  7. biggerbox  •  Jun 24, 2007 @8:41 pm

    I’m afraid I can’t even imagine what parallel Malkin draws between the two sets of photographs that would lead to that expectation. Iran acting like brutal, inhuman thugs on camera is not news. America acting like brutal, inhuman thugs on camera WAS news. Isn’t that obvious?

    I guess Lulu lives in a world where there is a huge movement of “Iranian apologists” she must fight. I’ve never met any, or read any, unless you consider thinking that it is ‘apologist’ to suggest that bombing Iran might not be a smart approach.

    What, I wonder, did Rosie say about Iran, if anything? Not being in the habit of getting my foreign policy advice from minor comics formerly on daytime TV shows, I missed it entirely.

    Do you suppose it will ever dawn on the right that they care a lot more about what TV and movie people think about policy than actual people on the left do?

  8. SPIIDERWEB™  •  Jun 24, 2007 @11:15 pm

    At first I couldn’t understand your ire with Lulu, but then I re-read her words and saw “manufactured”.

    You’re right again.

  9. Bonnie  •  Jun 24, 2007 @11:17 pm

    Here is a good article that sums a lot of things up very well:

    http://www.antiwar.com/reese/?articleid=11181

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