|Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,|
|Who never to himself hath said,|
|This is my own, my native land!|
|— Sir Walter Scott|
|Who do you love?|
|— Bo Diddley|
What ever happened to patriotism?
Webster’s defines the term as “love for or devotion to one’s country.”
But before there were countries, there was patriotism. The term itself derives from ancient languages (Greek and Latin) and refers to the land of one’s fathers.
Patriotism is pre-political. It is essentially human – which noun, by the way, derives from the Latin humus – dirt, soil. “Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return,” we are told on Ash Wednesday. “humus.”
Patriotism is founded in the natural law. It represents the honor we owe our forbearers and the land they tilled and bequeathed to us. We do not live in abstractions, we live a concrete, historical life.
One’s native land is as human as life itself. Our fathers taught us patriotism. Patriotism means family — love of our family for giving us life (making us “human”), love for our kin, our tribe, our neighbors, and the God who gives us life.
Patriotism does not mean love of government.
And that bothers politicians. Big time. Major league.
About a hundred years ago, Antonio Gramsci launched a campaign to eradicate all this. He taught that violent revolution was ineffective; only through the infiltration and, ultimately, the takeover or destruction of our traditional institutions, would revolution succeed.
And since the ancients, the family has been the most fundamental institution of every civilized society.
For two generations, fatherhood has been denigrated and demeaned by the elites. Spurred on by feminist radicals (of both sexes) and the welfare state, the family has been shredded. Government wants to be the new androgynous parent, replacing both father and mother.
Politicians would be our new family.
“I will fight for you!” Candidate Al Gore promised the alienated women of America in 2000.
He was talking to a generation that had been ravaged by ideological attacks on men, marriage, husbands, and “patriarchy” in general.
During the previous 40 years and more, the divorce rate had soared. No one told women that divorce would make them poorer, that their children would be less like to learn, to work, to succeed, and to stay out of jail — or that their children would be over 30 times more likely to be abused by their boyfriends than children from intact families with fathers living in the home.
Well, as Bill Clinton’s flacks used to say, “Hey, so what??!! That’s old news!”
But the collapse of the family has opened the door to the Daddy State, where aspiring Al Gore’s promise to take care of women the way their husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, and random lovers, partners, and hookups refused to.
“Don’t trust your family. Don’t trust men. Trust government!”
And, as Madeline Albright delicately added last week, “… or you’ll go to Hell!”
Mrs. Gore, known as “Tipper,” lost her trust in Al, and Americans have lost their trust in government (she could get a divorce. We can’t).
But the cause of paternalism was not a partisan one. In fact, the more fundamental lie, the “noble lie” so so cherished by the neocons, was framed by George W. Bush’s hubristic, messianic claim (in an address to a joint session of Congress, no less):“If you’re not with us, you’re against us.”
The lie still lives. After she lost the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton alleged that an attack on her was an attack on democracy itself.
Yes, having been robbed of their common fatherland, fatherhood, and Founding Fathers, Americans have been handed a counterfeit substitute: patriotism means “love of government.” Hate the government and you are going to Hell (Albright) or you are a traitor (Bush).
For Winston, in 1984, it meant Room 101 – the torture chamber.
And if you don’t love the government? You can be replaced. We can import tens of millions of new citizens who don’t share your vices — you know, self-reliance, love of liberty, civic virtue, and, yes, patriotism.
As strangers in a strange land (after all, their fatherland — their patria — is far, far away), they will embrace government as you never could, as you never will.
So what if you don’t love Big Brother? They will.