Nov 2 2007
01:26 pm

Well, I found something that I can offer that will probably even appeal to the real progressives here (who, I don't believe, think I'm one of them, but that's OK). [I'm grinning, kids!]

Are we in danger of losing patriotism in favor of nationalism?

I have found more from E.D. Hirsch, Jr., whom I'm finding is more and more my "Hero du Jour." It was interesting to note that this fine gentleman of culture operates from a place that has, since the earliest times of our country, been a seat of learning and culture, namely, Charlottesville, VA (home of the only legacy Thomas Jefferson ever really wanted, the University of Virginia).

"The love of country — patriotism — is a very different sentiment from nationalism. A fine book by Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, beautifully distinguishes between nationalist and patriotic sentiments. Nationalism is an aggrandizing, tribalistic sentiment that defines one’s own group as opposed to alien groups, which are seen as potential rivals or enemies to be overcome or excluded. Patriotism, by contrast, implies love of country without necessarily implying hostility to anybody else. American patriotism is built of shared knowledge, attitudes, loyalties, and values, including the values of nonexclusion, toleration, and respect for other religions and cultures. Americans have proved that it is possible to feel patriotic about a cosmopolitan, diverse country, which is loved more for its vital diversity than for its racial or ethnic purity. That was Walt Whitman’s patriotism, and Herman Melville’s. For most of our history, the United States has imagined itself as a patriotic rather than as a nationalist state. George Washington thought of himself and was celebrated as Cincinnatus, the Roman hero who wishes only to return to his hearth and his farm once the necessary sacrifice and service to the patria is accomplished.

To that, Herman Melville added our modern idea of a nation that embraces all races and ethnic groups. He said,
'There is something in the contemplation of the mode in which America has been settled that, in a noble breast, should forever extinguish the prejudices of national dislikes. Settled by the people of all nations, all nations may claim her for their own. You can not spill a drop of American blood without spilling the blood of the whole world…. We are not a narrow tribe of men—No: our blood is as the flood of the Amazon, made up of a thousand noble currents all pouring into one…. For who were our father and mother? Or can we point to any Romulus and Remus for our founders? Our ancestry is lost in the universal paternity, and Caesar and Alfred, St. Paul and Luther, Homer and Shakespeare are as much ours as Washington, who is as much the world’s as our own.'

You might want to read the rest of this wonderful passage (Chapter 33) from Redburn, written in 1849. I won’t quote any more of it here. Suffice it to say that this American idea of a new kind of patriotism and community is a tradition that stretches from George Washington to Horace Mann and Herman Melville to ourselves, and it has not lost its pungency and capacity to inspire.

How could I improve on that?! Ain't even gonna try. But I am gonna think on it. Maybe you could, too.


Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid / TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding.