What Is Patriotism?

Does President Obama love America? Rudy Giuliani shared his feeling about that, then did his best to explain that he had not meant what he’d clearly said. His defenders endorsed the feeling while pointing to Obama’s more and less plausibly unpatriotic associations — with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, with Bill Ayers, with the progressive movement generally. Against this we have the weakness of guilt-by-association arguments, along with the president’s several professions of love for his country (mingled with his criticisms of aspects and episodes of its history). All of which makes for the sort of sloppy, psychologically speculative polemicizing that no argument could hope to resolve.

For my part, I’ll give the president the benefit of the doubt; and the arguments over his policies will go on quite apart from what anyone feels about what he feels. Still, it might be worthwhile to reflect on the meaning of patriotism. Jonah Goldberg defines it as love of country and offers the arresting thought that there is a tension between loving something and wanting to change it. That is true, especially in personal relations, but here it proves too much.

via What Is Patriotism?.

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