Reviewing the values of patriotism

Chloe Forbes, Editor-in-Chief

You’re either with us or against us. That’s the message emanating most to me during this election. I’ve never seen anything as polarized as our country right now. There are plenty of people who are “cutting off” friends and family because of their presidential choices. I have only met a few people who can truly carry a conversation in a respectful and open way, rather than becoming violent and irreverent toward the other person. Other than people feeling disheartened, I’ve noticed another change – people have grown to feel like they aren’t part of America, saying things like “he’s not my president.”
Now, over the past four years, I too have grown weary of America. The thought of a white guy in an F250 with a flag flying makes me nauseated quite honestly. This is ridiculous to me because I am someone who knows my amendments by heart and finds gratitude in voting and having the ability to make change. Yet I still find myself assuming anyone wearing the American flag is of a certain party, and I immediately feel unsafe. How did it come to be that there is one image of an American and some citizens are bullied for not fitting that certain image?
Colin Kaepernick kneeled in protest and was deemed unpatriotic.
The image for Blue Lives Matter takes the shape of a stripe on the American flag.
The president of the U.S. uses the words “we” to describe Republicans as Americans and “they” to oppress other viewpoints.
This is the politics of patriotism, toxic patriotism.
The ideology behind authoritarian patriotism stands that one country is inherently superior to other countries, and believes people have a primary allegiance to land birthright, legal citizenship and government’s cause. There is unwavering loyalty with unconditional support toward leaders.
To me, this is awfully close to ethnocentrism.
Democratic patriotism, on the other hand, is the belief that one’s country ideals are worthy of admiration and respect, with allegiance to underlying principles.
My admiration for America comes from the fact that I appreciate the principles on which this country stands and how those rights allow me to be critical of my country and shape it to be the best it can be through democracy.
I think other times people can lose sight of what patriotism is and use it as a weapon. Equating American values to the opposition of something is wrong. Instead, everyone should use this time to reinforce principles of justice and equality.
This week, I saw this put in action. A letter was anonymously mailed out to people in the university, giving a viewpoint that dealt with racial issues in the Gannon community. I’ve got to be honest and say I was enraged at it at first glance because it didn’t fall in line with my views. The more time I sat with my thoughts, though, I came to an understanding with the letter and with myself.
If someone feels strongly enough to express themselves outwardly, that’s something I need to respect. I’m interested to know how the Gannon community would react, but most importantly, I want to help inform this person and have a genuine conversation within a safe setting first. I think we are so polarized politically right now that we should all try to have this mindset. Both as Democrats and Republicans, there needs to be a respect for the human behind the beliefs even if their opinions don’t fall in line with our own, just as our allegiance lies to the principles behind our country. Personally, I’d like to ask whoever wrote the letter to contact me as I decide how to publish it. I will hold your wish to be anonymous to the community, but to truly understand the impact on the community, I need to know who you are and identify that you are a Gannon community member rather than an aggregator. If your feelings are so convicted, I’d like to have a conversation.



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