Patriotism and a Woman:

Protein Wisdom was musing on proper patriotism, yesterday, as expressed by left and right. I think they both have it wrong.

[I]t is fair to infer that Obama tends to attract those who disagree that that “we should be willing to fight for our country whether it is right or wrong,” which seems entirely consistent with Obama’s view of patriotism (and of Israeli nationalism). As Michael Barone would put it, it is the difference between Jacksonians and academics. For the New Left, the idea that disagreements over foreign policy stop at the water’s edge died in Vietnam.

The New Left view can be usefully contrasted with a metaphor Rick Moran has used to describe liberal patriotism:
I think it is apparent that some on the right love America in a different way than some on the left. Think of the right’s love of country as that of a young man for a hot young woman. The passion of such love brooks no criticism and in their eyes, the woman can do nothing wrong. They place the woman on a pedestal and fail to see any flaws in her beauty, only perfection.On the other hand, love of country by many liberals is more intellectualized – perhaps the kind of love we might feel for a wife of many years. The white hot passion may be gone and her flaws might drive you up a wall at times. And it is difficult not to dwell on her imperfections. But there is still a deep, abiding affection that allows you to love her despite the many blemishes and defects they see.

It isn’t that most on the left love America any less than those on the right. They simply see a different entity – a tainted but beloved object that has gotten better with age.
Alternatively, it could be argued that some on the left (esp. the New Left) treat America like the girlfriend they hold to a standard of perfection and always find wanting, complaining about her to their friends in her presence. And that some on the right love America like their wives, acknowledging her past and present flaws, while recognizing that those flaws might not be corrected overnight, or even in his lifetime. And that most American husbands do not find it useful to publicly take sides in an argument against their wives, even when they might privately do so. Or to dismiss their wives’ concern that there may be an intruder in the house.

It is wonderful — not to mention politically smart — that Obama has started talking more about the greatness of America and its ideals. However, should he be elected president, he will be elected president of the nation as it is, not of its ideals. Obama claims he wants to bring Americans together. If he truly does, he will have to accept that he cannot cavalierly dismiss the views of his fellow citizens anymore than he can dismiss the views of his wife.
Insofar as you want to make a metaphor wherein the country is a woman, both of these concepts are wrong. If America is a woman, she is your mother.

You should love her because she bore you into the world, and gave you every chance you had as a youth. You should love her because she defended you, nursed you while you were weak, and gave you a chance to grow strong. You should love her without failing because it is your duty, and because no man can hate his mother without destroying a part of himself.

Of course, "patriotism" is from the Latin patria, in turn derived from Pater, which means "Father." Still, it is usual to think of America as being a woman, in part because the name takes a feminine form. Whether you love her as a mother or as a father, however, love her that way.

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