Friday, July 3, 2009

Will the Real Patriots Please Stand Up?

The nation is divided, half patriots and half traitors, and no man can tell which from which. - Mark Twain

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it. - Edward R. Murrow

"My country, right or wrong" is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying "My mother, drunk or sober." - G. K. Chesterton

In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. - H. L. Mencken

When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and the purity of its heart. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are two visions of America. One precedes our founding fathers and finds its roots in the harshness of our puritan past. It is very suspicious of freedom, uncomfortable with diversity, hostile to science, unfriendly to reason, contemptuous of personal autonomy. It sees America as a religious nation. It views patriotism as allegiance to God. It secretly adores coercion and conformity. Despite our constitution, despite the legacy of the Enlightenment, it appeals to millions of Americans and threatens our freedom.

The other vision finds its roots in the spirit of our founding revolution and in the leaders of this nation who embraced the age of reason. It loves freedom, encourages diversity, embraces science and affirms the dignity and rights of every individual. It sees America as a moral nation, neither completely religious nor completely secular. It defines patriotism as love of country and of the people who make it strong. It defends all citizens against unjust coercion and irrational conformity.

This second vision is our vision. It is the vision of a free society. We must be bold enough to proclaim it and strong enough to defend it against all its enemies. - Rabbi Sherwin Wine

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