The patriotic dissenters who founded AmericaIn the last few years, the phrase 'patriotism' has been stolen by the pro-war crowd. This isn't exactly new; it happens during pretty much every war, both in America and elsewhere. It's true that the current far right has co-opted 'patriotism' for its own ideological ends but historically, such malfeasence and stiffling of dissent has not always been limited to conservatives.
The 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Sedition Act made it a crime to criticize US participation in World War I. Their most famous victim was Eugene Debs, who received nearly a million votes for his socialist presidential candidacy in 1920 despite being in prison at the time. These bills pushed through not by a far right president, but by Woodrow Wilson, one of the patron saints of American liberalism.
The patriotism of Americans of Japanese descent was doubted during World War II. With due process suspended thanks to the Supreme Court, millions of law-abiding citizens were thrown into internment camps. This was implemented not by a far right president, but by Franklin D. Roosevelt, another patron saint of liberalism.
In that vein, The Christian Science Monitor published an excellent editorial warning against the further politicization of patriotism.
On the eve of Independence Day, we are reminded that America was not forged by a homogeneous set of individuals. There were merchants and big landowners. Slave owners and abolitionists. World travelers and provincialists. None of them owned America any more than the current far right (or any other ideological fringe) claims to. No one person or small group gets to define what are American values. Dick Cheney is no more a real American than Cindy Sheehan, George W. Bush no more so than the Dixie Chicks.
And we are also reminded that America was forged by people who thought dissent was their patriotic duty.