Thursday, June 29, 2006

Proud to be an American . . .

I already noted my joy at having Mona Charen join the blogroll at National Review Online, and she isn't disappointing. In a post about patriotism, she succintly illustrates what I dislike about it when it has been appropriated as rightwing Republican property:
The indispensible Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute alerts us to the results of a number of recent surveys on the subject of patriotism. Americans, it seems, are among the most patriotic people on the planet, and large majorities describe themselves as very patriotic. (Only the Phillipines scored higher -- go figure.) But there are differences between the parties. While 71 percent of Republicans "completely agree" with the statement "I am very patriotic," only 48 percent of Democrats did. Asked "If you had the opportunity to leave the United States and live permanently in another country, would you take it?" 8 percent of Republicans, but 24 percent of Democrats answered in the affirmative . . .

Note first the how contemptuous and dismissive she is of the Phillipines; after all, what do they have to be patriotic about? Patriotism in this country is too frequently expressed in terms how much better we are than other countries -- America is the "best country in the world!"

Even if that is true, it is a bad reason to love America. In his closing comment at Reactionary Radicals, Bill Kauffman quoted G.K. Chesterton on the subject from The Napoleon of Notting Hill. "The patriot never, under any circumstances, boasts of the largeness of his country, but always, and of necessity, boasts of its smallness." I can't think of anyone who has done more than Kauffman has in the last few years to boast of the "smallness" of America; starting with his own hometown.

Bill Kauffman's America is a great country, and I love it a lot. Mona Charen's and National Review's America is little more than a giant abstraction with a huge gross domestic product and aircraft carriers.

1 comment:

Jason said...

Go figure!