Patriotism And Its Discontents

On this Fourth of July, we don’t need polls from Pew and Gallup to tell us that patriotism, however understood, is “in decline.”

Many of the antecedents are lost far upstream in the tributaries of time, but two  contemporary currents, one political and one cultural, don’t get the attention they deserve – probably because their mere mention can be taken as an affront to revered individuals and institutions.

First, as his wars quickly turned disastrous, George W. Bush, with a brazen flourish of his magic wand, commanded that, henceforth, patriotism meant love of government, not love of country. “You’re either with us, or against us,” he brayed – “us” meaning the hubristic neocon cabal that declared itself so exceptionally “American” that it was above the Constitution and the moral law.

Oppose “us”  and you’re un-American – and decidedly unpatriotic.

Needless to say, that perverted husk of “Americanism” did not appeal to most Americans – and it shows.

Bush never apologized, instead going into hiding, leaving Cheney to swagger onto the stage and drive home the gnostic nail in the coffin.

Second, patriotism derives from patria – and means, of course, love of fatherland, not of government. That notion is today decidedly rejected as an antiquated “ideological construct” by the usual suspects – the elites who disdain the people even as they feed off them.

That bromide we are used to. But one un-usual suspect emerges as a key player in the deconstruction: the Catholic Church.

Traditionally and historically, the Catholic Church has most often constituted the bulwark against the power-lust of tyrants. But the Church’s American experience has been, well, exceptional.

In the past century, anxious to please the government and prove that Catholics were “patriots” too, America’s bishops supported American entry into both World Wars while the faithful opposed them. To prove their loyalty, bishops also allied with Democrat governments to support FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society.

Even today, with a rogue tyranny threatening literally to shut down major Catholic institutions, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York plaintively tells Obama, the most anti-Catholic president in history, that America’s bishops, “some of your greatest supporters,” want to be “your cheerleaders”!

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez, a legal immigrant and future Cardinal, condemns American individualism and the rule of law, while promising that tens of millions of God-fearing, family-loving Hispanics will make the “Next America” a better place to live.

So whither patriotism?

Politicians play Big Brother and demand that we love them. Senior Catholic prelates condemn America and cheer on a tyrant (while quietly receiving over $1 billion a year in taxpayer funds from Congress for their bureaucracies).

Happy Fourth of July.


9:15 am on July 4, 2015