by Naomi Wolf
Oct 2, 2008
The following is an excerpt from my book Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries:
What are we supposed to do to reclaim freedom? We need to understand that we are bombarded with both fake patriotism and fake democracy. Only then can we get to the real American mandate.
The key ways, the phrases and metaphors, in which we are often asked to think about America tend to make us stupid, complacent, and inert. They are also, if you go back to what the great Americans wished us to identify as love of country, just plain wrong. Today, politicians often ask us to think of ourselves as a kind of “chosen people” by birthright: “Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world,” as George W. Bush asserted during the 2000 election campaign.
Over the past four decades, patriotism was often defined as uncritical support for U.S. policies–such as the Vietnam War-era bumper sticker MY COUNTRY, RIGHT OR WRONG. Patriotism was also branded as support for U.S. militarism, whatever the context or conflict or cost. Sometimes patriotism was identified with “Christian America” and sometimes even as direct evangelism in the context of statecraft. Finally patriotism was rebranded as the active silencing of dissent. John McCain, for instance, whose campaign messaging in 2008 was grounded in a theme of patriotism, recently called in public for members of MoveOn.org to be kicked out of the country. But all these rebrandings of patriotism would have dismayed the great Americans who had all at various times criticized U.S. military actions, U.S. policies, the establishment of any state religion, and most of all, criticized those who would silence disagreeing voices and dissent.
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