Calling out Bogus Patriotism

They bawl for freedom in their senseless mood,
  Yet still revolt when truth would set them free
  License they mean, when they cry liberty,
For who loves that must first be wise and good.

—From Sonnet 12: I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs by John Milton

“Let us take a patriot, where we can meet him; and, that we may not flatter ourselves by false appearances, distinguish those marks which are certain, from those which may deceive; for a man may have the external appearance of a patriot, without the constituent qualities; as false coins have often lustre, though they want weight.”

“A patriot is always ready to countenance the just claims and animate the reasonable hopes of the people; he reminds them, frequently, of their rights, and stimulates them to resent encroachments, and to multiply securities.

But all this may be done in appearance, without real patriotism. He that raises false hopes to serve a present purpose, only makes a way for disappointment and discontent. He who promises to endeavour, what he knows his endeavours unable to effect, means only to delude his followers by an empty clamour of ineffectual zeal.”

THE PATRIOT by Samuel Johnson

Patriotism isn’t a badge you wear on your chest and walk around proclaiming “I’m a Patriot”. Patriotism is a personal thing; it comes from inside you…it’s a feeling of pride in your Country…it’s a quiet pride that makes one feel good.   Patriotism means supporting and loving our country even when it’s going through rough or difficult times. You still love our country, even when things are not as you desire, or you would like.

  • Patriotism is not a cudgel used to bludgeon people with to get your way!
  • Patriotism is not some damn fool preening and prancing around with a “F***K Biden” jacket on!
  • Patriots don’t give fealty to some dictator wannabe who uses people only to achieve his own personal power!
  • Patriots don’t hijack the power and beauty of patriotism for their own political motives!
  • Patriots don’t storm the Congress of the United States with the intent of subverting the will of the people of the United States because their person didn’t get elected!

In a number of ways, patriotism has been co-opted by nazism in the ultra-right mentality by promoting the idea of white superiority.  They use the same techniques employed by Hitler, Goebbels, et al of misinformation, conspiracy theories, questioning and challenging democratic norms as being corrupt and playing to white people’s fears of those who don’t look like them sow mistrust and gain power.

There is an excellent book, “Stolen Valor” by B. G. Burkett that calls out people who fake their military service…posers if you will, all done with the intent of gaining attention or benefit without having done the heavy lifting.  The same goes for all these people proclaiming how much of a patriot they are…they are posers looking for attention or to justify their sometimes criminal actions. They are the “Bogus” patriots!

You don’t inherit patriotism like some gene from a parent, you learn patriotism by learning about your country, serving your country, helping your country…something that is sorely lacking in America today.

Simply put, true patriots love their country, they give their loyalty to the Constitution of the United States, they accept the good with the bad, they understand people are human and they are willing to listen to both sides of the argument.

I have a good sense of what patriotism means…been around a long time, seen a lot of stuff.  I’m a retired Marine Mustang Major, did two combat tours in Viet Nam and 21 years in the Green Machine.

I was commissioned in the field in Viet Nam…one minute I was Staff Sergeant…the next minute, a Second Lieutenant.  When I was sworn in, I recited this oath:

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

I took that oath seriously because it is the fundamental role of all Americans…”to support and defend the Constitution of the United States”.  A patriot understands this.


Joe Anderson
Joe Anderson
JOE is a partner at Anderson Performance Partners LLC , a certified woman/veteran-owned business, working with organizations to facilitate problem solving through workforce energy and innovation. He is a retired Marine Officer and a seasoned senior business executive with more than 30 years leadership experience as a senior business executive in several Fortune 500 companies and as a business owner.

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE


  1. Joe: First of all, thank you for your service.

    I appreciated your article. As a veteran, your thoughts and words have tremendous credibility. I think you are spot on here:

    “In a number of ways, patriotism has been co-opted by nazism in the ultra-right mentality by promoting the idea of white superiority. They use the same techniques employed by Hitler, Goebbels, et al of misinformation, conspiracy theories, questioning and challenging democratic norms as being corrupt and playing to white people’s fears of those who don’t look like them sow mistrust and gain power.”

    What is sad and infuriating at the same time is that 70 million people either voted directly for the lie of white superiority or “held their nose” and voted indirectly for it for a number of selfish reasons. What a lot of people don’t realized or won’t realize is that democracy hangs by a thread. It has enemies within our own borders. Recounts upon recounts and voter restriction laws are both undermine it.

    • Thanks Jeff, appreciate your thoughtful comments. I agree, we are on a precipice right now, and it’s a scary thought not knowing which way it’s going to fall. My optimistism says a lot of those 72 million voters have seen the light and are moving away from the harsh rhetoric, misdirection and lies. I guess we will see when the mid-terms roll around. Thanks. Joe

    • Joe: From your keyboard expression of optimism to the voting booth! I may not agree with everything POTUS Biden is doing, but I do like that he’s trying to have policy discussions about helping people, stopping further climate change, and improving our infrastructure. I hope that people who might be inclined to vote for the other party – I won’t dignify them by labeling them GOP – will see that their only policy is stopping Biden, per Mitch M, and grabbing power. They have no real policy objectives that I can see.

    • My position is that President Biden is the President and he gets his chance to lead America. Our job is to support him…As with you, I don’t agree with all of his positions but I do agree on the infrastructure, climate, equal justice, equal opportunity and equal rights. On equal opportunity, one should have equal opportunity to succeed but whether or not that occurs is up to how much the individual puts into it.

  2. Joe: Many thanks for writing this, and for capturing my own thoughts about those individuals who seem not to understand what patriotism entails. As a 30 year veteran myself, with a year flying combat in Vietnam, it was physically painful (and more than a little infuriating) to see those misguided people damaging our Capitol on 1/6, all in the name of ‘patriotism.’ It is, perhaps, more maddening that the event is being ignored and put aside as some kind of minor incident, like a drunken fraternity party. I feel very strongly that if it’s not addressed adequately, and investigated thoroughly, it will be a practice run for a future effort. So thank you for your courage in writing this, and for your service as well.


    • Thanks Byron for sharing your thoughts and thank you for your service. Th events of the past 5 months have been discouraging, particularly the involvement of active and retired military and veterans in the 1/6 insurrection. I agree, the insurrection needs to be investigated and those found responsible prosecuted. Joe