In an excellent post about torture, Amanda Marcotte concludes:
On another blog, I had some right winger squeeing and questioning my patriotism because I supposedly want our country to “lose” the war in Iraq that I thought the President told us wasn’t happening, what with the mission being accomplished and all. It’s sort of an interesting conundrum, because I can’t deny that I want us to pull out of every country where we don’t have the consent of the people, I want us to shut down our gulags and torture chambers, and I want the current interlopers out of the White House and the Republican party to quit rigging elections. If “America” is defined as a dictatorship, an occupier that has no respect for democracy, then fair enough, I’m no patriot. I wouldn’t be a patriot to Stalinist Russia, or Nazi Germany, or Pinochet’s definition of Chile. And I’m no loyalist to our current madman who has no respect for democracy that sits in office now. But when it comes to the idea of America, the notion that we’re a beacon of light, a real democracy, the land of the free, then I’m a patriot of the tallest order. And I want my country, the one that I was raised to believe exists, back from the monsters who are perverting it right now with their imperialism and their torture chambers.
I agree, and Amanda’s sentiment reminded me of something WWII resistance fighter and Nobel laurate Albert Camus wrote in Letters to a German Friend:
…if at times we seemed to prefer justice to our country, this is because we simply wanted to love our country in justice, as we wanted to love her in truth and in hope.
Love of country is love of your people and love of the idea of your country. For too long, too many of us have been accused that we don’t love our country by conservatives and Republicans who have such disdain for their fellow Americans and for the ideals that America represents. Patriotism is not mindless rooting for the ‘home team’; it is something deeper, principled, and substantial. It is also what we make of it, and I too would have it be just.