(The link in September 7, 2011's, newsletter to the Moment Everything Changed blog topic wrap-up should have gone here. Sorry for any confusion!)
The observance of Canada Day and U.S. Independence Day at the beginning of July led Red Room to wonder about patriotism. (We noted that several other countries celebrated independence or national days that week, including Venezuela, Malawi, Comoros, and Lithuania). In Enlightenment-era France, patriotism simply signified loyalty to the state as opposed to the church. These days, even constructive critics of government are accused of being unpatriotic by "love it or leave it" types. We wanted to know what Red Room members thought about patriotism, and asked them to tell us in their blogs
To spark their imaginations, we suggested they browse more than fifty books about political criticism, an act that is often born out of love of country so strong that one must write about it. Whether they agreed with Samuel Johnson that "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" or would stand with Nathan Hale, whose only regret was having but one life to lose for his country, we saw a diverse and exciting array of responses.
A few entries stood out:
- A glorious hometown fireworks display inspired author Arlene Goldbard to write about patriotism as constructively criticizing and working to improve one's country in "In the USA."
- In "Patriotism Challenge," author Bonnie G. Roberts describes how she has suffered consequences for this view from people who believe they were the ones being the patriots.
- Author and U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles A. Ray also knows America is imperfect, but says in "My Country, Right or Wrong," "I love my country, warts and all, and have spent 49 years of my life serving it, twenty in uniform and the past twenty-nine doing my best to support and advance its interests around the world as a diplomat."
- Originally Australian but now living in Canada, member Cindy M. Sullivan used her Canada Day celebration as a jumping-off point to discuss the sociological aspects of patriotism in "True Patriot Love."
These bloggers will receive books by Red Room authors:
In Of Thee I Sing (2010, Knopf Books for Young Readers), a "tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama (with illustrator Loren Long) has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O'Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America's children."
Susan Griffin asks "what does it mean to be a citizen of the United States in her 2008 book Wrestling With the Angel of Democracy (Shambhala Publishers). Her "provocative investigation of that question takes us from the Declaration of Independence to the Iraq War, with many stops in between."
Griffin and Karin Lofthus Carrington take the question global as they co-edit Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World, (2011, University of California Press), an "inspired collection offers a new paradigm for moving the world beyond violence as the first, and often only, response to violence." In it, "a diverse array of contributors--writers, healers, spiritual and political leaders, scientists, and activists, including Desmond Tutu, Huston Smith, Riane Eisler, Daniel Ellsberg, Amos Oz, Fatema Mernissi, Fritjov Capra, George Lakoff, Mahmoud Darwish, Terry Tempest Williams, and Jack Kornfield--considers how we might transform the conditions that produce terrorist acts and bring true healing to the victims of these acts."
In his neighborhood, racial, and economic activism, Ishmael Reed showed the commitment to community that some equate with patriotism, even while criticizing the inequities that have so often characterized the United States. His new novel Juice! (2011, Dalkey Archive Press) is "a lament for the death of print media, the growth of the corporation, and the process of growing old, Juice! serves as a comi-tragedy, chronicling the increased anxieties of 'post-race' America."
You can read all of the patriotism blog entries here. I hope you'll find your favorites, and let the blogger know in the comments what you liked about it. All of Red Room's past entries are here. Thanks as always for blogging!
–Huntington W. Sharp, Senior Editor, Red Room