Letter: America needs its patriots now more than ever
I believe that it is important to understand the contrasting concepts of patriotism and nationalism. Historically, these terms were considered synonyms.
However, their meanings diverged after Hitler’s Nazi Germany, and the difference is often captured in the pithy quote, “The patriot is proud of their country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of their country no matter what it does.”
Specifically, nationalists believe that their country is better than other countries “just because,” regardless of how that country acts, of whether it demonstrates integrity, decency, fairness, or generosity. Nationalists can’t tolerate criticism of their country and defend its actions regardless of the ethical quality of those actions.
In contrast, patriots understand that their country is only as great as its actions, and they care about it too much to allow it to be less than its best. They acknowledge their country’s flaws and do the work to help it overcome them. American patriots, in particular, recognize that our country’s founding principle of freedom and justice for all means nothing if it is simply words on paper. They understand that when our country’s actions fall short of those words, they must go to work, pushing America’s institutions, leaders and local communities to do better.
Right now, America desperately needs patriots. We need patriots who stubbornly refuse to allow America to fail to live up to its loftiest ideals. These patriots will work to safeguard the rights of and improve opportunities for those who have been marginalized throughout our history. They will, with humility, examine our social landscape and see where cancers such as white privilege, chauvinism, or voter suppression make America less than its best and will strive to hold leaders and institutions accountable for taking actions to cure these cancers.
— Patrick Manyak, Granby
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