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Politics & Power

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Show Your Support for People with Autism - Boycott Mattel

Reforming America: Redefining Patriotism

"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." - Mark Twain

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." - Howard Zinn

"You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it." - Malcolm X

"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." - Samuel Johnson

Since September 11, 2001 Americans have rediscovered a sense of patriotism. When our nation was attacked we came together to demand justice and support the efforts of our government to go after the people that planned the attacks. The support for the government at times has been unconditional and willfully ignorant of facts that contradict assertions made by our leaders that in fact point to actions being taken by our government that fly in the face of the principles our nation was founded upon. For many conservatives and political "hawks" this has been a time of renewed "greatness" for America that they rejoice in. For many students of history though the flag waving and overly zealous extolling of the virtues of America has been somewhat worrisome.

The fears of some stem from the history of events that came as a result of blind nationalism. For every "Us vs. Them" situation there is a "Them" that suffers for the paranoia and anger of the nationalists. In present time it is people of the Muslim faith who have become most suspect in the eyes of nationalists. The every move of Muslims in America is scrutinized and analyzed to determine if there is an ulterior motive behind it. Whenever they want to build a mosque someone challenges them and expects them to prove that their motives are pure when no such demand would ever be made of Christians building a church or Jews a synagogue. Muslims in America have become second class citizens because a few people who claimed to be of the Muslim faith committed terrible acts. Some extremists have taken the issue even further threatening to burn Qurans and threatened the safety of Muslims living in their towns. The parallels with Nazi Germany in the 1930’s are striking.

In the late 1920’s Adolf Hitler began his rise to power after being released from prison by stirring up hatred and resentment toward the Jews among people suffering from the effects of the bad economy that followed Germany’s defeat in World War I. Some attribute his hatred of Jews to a level of self loathing at the possibility that his maternal grandfather might have been from a wealthy Jewish family that Hitler’s grandmother had worked for. Regardless of the reason for his hatred of Jews he was able to play on people’s anger over hard economic times and direct that anger toward select groups of people, including Jews, painted as the architects of the misery most people were experiencing. Hitler spoke to scores of mass audiences, calling for the German people to resist the domination of Jews and Communists, and to create a new empire which would rule the world for 1,000 years. By playing to people’s nationalism and instilling a fear of select groups of people he was able to gain political support and rise to power.

As Hitler rose to power there were voices of dissent within Germany such as Carl Jung but they were cautious and often unclear in their opposition to the views of the Nazi party. In the absence of significant opposition the Nazi party grew stronger and eventually dominated all aspects of German society. What began as angry rhetoric against certain groups became violent behavior. People went from burning books to turning in their neighbors for being Jews and watching them being carted off to the ghettos. Because the rhetoric was allowed to become something more eventually six million people were rounded up and murdered by the Nazis.

In America we are experiencing tough economic times and have suffered a horrible loss at the hands of evil people. As a result of the 9/11 tragedy and the media coverage that has followed there is distrust of Muslims, already seen by many Americans as somehow foreign because of their unfamiliar religious beliefs. Along with Muslims, the current purveyors of angry rhetoric point to undocumented immigrants as a significant source of American economic misery. Organizations like the Tea Party and their spokespeople like Glenn Beck have given a voice to America’s simmering anger and frustration and have become the face of modern nationalism. People have listened to the voices of flag waving hate, confused blind nationalism for patriotism and it has led to two wars and thousands of soldiers killed and wounded in the name of defending American freedom as well as a number of new laws taking away American freedoms and singling out people of color for harassment.

These laws and wars are not demonstrations of patriotism but rather anger and hatred. We as a nation need to realize that singling out a group of people to vilify for our problems will not solve our problems. Sacrificing the principles upon which our nation was founded in exchange for an illusion of security will not make us any safer. We need to be focused on solutions and the core issues driving the real threats to our safety and prosperity. Whether we like it or not American foreign policy is one of the reasons there are numerous terrorist organizations bent on the destruction of our nation. Likewise, if businesses did not offer employment to people in the country illegally there would not be as many people trying to cross the border to find work.

Instead of directing our anger at innocent Muslims and immigrants we should be looking to the leaders that have led us to the state our nation is in to explain themselves. Why did our leaders choose to pass laws that allow companies to remain in business when they do things harmful to the people of our nation? Why has American foreign policy supported ruthless dictators and rogue nations that defy every principle upon which our nation was built? How is allowing our government to torture prisoners promoting freedom and liberty? Real patriots question their leaders when they fail to live up to the standards of their national history. Wrapping evil in a flag does not make it patriotism. If America is to survive we need to do a far better job of learning the difference between nationalism and patriotism. To avoid repeating the mistakes of the past we need to redefine what it is to be a patriotic American and that begins with rejecting the hate filled rhetoric of the Glenn Becks of the world and putting aside fear to find solutions for the good of everyone.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom | Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this column. | Click icon to Digg this article

Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to:

Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to

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