In the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks, there appeared to be an outpouring of patriotism that even surpassed what I witnessed when I went off to the Persian Gulf in 1990. It was gratifying to see that Americans still believed – even if for only a fleeting moment – that America was a great country deserving of their love and loyalty. Obviously many did not see it that way. Their first question was about what the US had done to make someone that angry. Not surprisingly, where do you think that question emanated from? You guessed it – the college campus!
Just when you thought it was safe to go outside – free from the intellectual stylings of college professors who occupy the fantasy world of academia, as well as college students barely out of their Pampers – the height of this ridiculousness reared its ugly head. Having said that, I will say that everyone in this country has the right to criticize the government. You can go ahead and claim that your “blame America first” mentality is equal to an act of patriotism. You can even call us “the rogue state,” as you sit with your friend the talking rodent. The one thing you can’t do however is claim that you’re loyal to anyone but yourself. You take full advantage of all the rights and benefits available to you, but you don’t want to ever do anything to earn them. You make fun of people like me who have, by characterizing us as jingoistic automatons, ranting incomprehensibly, wholly dispossessed of the intellect that you have. You dislike this nation because you don’t like its leadership. Fine. Just stop acting like you’re some kind of great patriots. You’re not, and it’s insulting to people who actually stepped up and served this country to hear you equate yourselves to us. You are nothing like us.
Patriotism is indeed about standing up for the principles on which this country was founded. Unfortunately, for those of you of whom I speak, you wouldn’t know what those were if you tripped over them. Patriotism is not a relative concept, as many Americans think, nor is it a dirty word… unless of course those people I spoke of are the ones claiming it.
Scott Wacholtz is a senior and served in the Marine Corps from 1987 – 1994. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.