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Corruption of Language--Orwell Warned Us

Recently another website juxtapositioned two quotes about patriotism in a subtle, insinuating way to associate  viciousness  with citizens' willingness to sacrifice themselves in defense of country or free way life.  This is a tired old linguistic slight of hand that Orwell warned us about in his novel 1984 and in essays on language. The two quotes are (1) "Patriotism is a virtue of the vicious" and (2) "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

A cursory initial reading of the first quote prompts one to find it internally contradictory in linking virtue to a vicious quality but, in the context of the second quote, a  patriot true to his/her calling would indeed need to engage in vicious or violent blood-letting as a last resort or means to defend and preserve one's values and way of life.  But just as Hamlet wisely paused (before taking action) in his statement "That would be scanned" so too should one analyze this misleading way of looking at patriotism. [When I was an Air Force officer candidate, an interviewing panel specifically asked me to CONFIRM myself able and willing to kill when my assigned mission required it.]

Reading between the lines, as the saying goes, one can see that the real intent of the first quote is to besmirch and discredit patriotism by associating it with vicious or violent behavior, thereby making one question the moral excellence of patriotic actions. [I am well aware, of course, of Johnson's famous observation that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" and I'm sure it is ever present in the consciousness of many of us as wisdom embodying a profound truth but, in my opinion, not relevant to the separate language issues in this analysis.] 

I find such clever but misleading language associations alarmingly like Orwell's "War is peace" in 1984, and they are often the first step in undermining/destroying a free people/country by confusing its citizens with twisted, perverted uses of language.  This phenomenon can all too easily gain currency as part of a general campaign of brainwashing and propagandizing us to believe something that, upon analysis, is against our own best interests and basic way of life. Thus, as Orwell cautioned, we must always be alert and vigilant in identifying such tactics and exposing them as lies and deceptions. One recalls the Nazi propaganda principle that if one repeats a lie often enough, people will actually start believing it.

As for the second quote above about caring for the tree of liberty, rather than focusing on its supposedly ominous implications of violence, I agree with it in principle (while not zealously seeking out opportunities to act upon it in patriotic extremism), because our free way of life (the tree of liberty) will die or cease to exist unless patriots are willing to sacrifice their lives (blood) in fighting tyrants/terrorists  (spilling their blood as well) who threaten to destroy our free way of life.  This is the sacrifice, for example, that some 440,000 Americans who died in World War II had to make to defend our country against the tyranny of Nazism and Japanese imperialism (their provocative attack on Pearl Harbor and brutal conquests in Asia).  The only meaning of "vicious" that one could possibly associate with this patriotic sacrifice is that violence obviously had to be used to keep our country free, and that is, in our fallen state in an imperfect world, a necessary  kind of violence or force for defeating nations and "-isms"  that become international bullies.  War is inexorably hell.

"FREEDOM IS NOT FREE"

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Excess Violence

The American dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan to secure their immediate surrender might be viewed as excessive, unjustified violence.  The military analysts of that era estimated that the alternative tactic of landing invading  assualt divisions on the Japanese homeland islands in order to get their surrender, would have cost some 100,000 additional American lives (to say nothing about Japanese casualties) and at least an equal number of severely wounded soldiers. 

My question (for those who favored the invasion over the bombing) is which ones among your group would have volunteered your family members to be among the 100,000 killed so that the bombs would not have to be dropped. The fact is that some of those with this objection to the bombing wouldn't even be alive today if the invasion had occurred because their fathers killed in action and potential children of these fathers would have NEVER BEEN BORN to have, in turn, fathered  or "mothered" the people making these objections.  It's a bit of IRONIC  historical perspective. 

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Excess Violence

The American dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan to secure their immediate surrender might be viewed as excessive, unjustified violence.  The military analysts of that era estimated that the alternative tactic of landing invading  assault divisions on the Japanese homeland islands in order to get their surrender, would have cost some 100,000 additional American lives (to say nothing about Japanese casualties) and at least an equal number of severely wounded soldiers. 

My question (for those who favored the invasion over the bombing) is which ones among your group would have volunteered your family members to be among the 100,000 killed so that the bombs would not have to be dropped. The fact is that some of those with this objection to the bombing wouldn't even be alive today if the invasion had occurred because their fathers killed in action and potential children of these fathers would have NEVER BEEN BORN to have, in turn, fathered  or "mothered" the people making these objections.  It's a bit of IRONIC  historical perspective.