I’ve been thinking for a long time about the kinds of anger and hate I discussed in yesterday’s post.  As I’ve written before on the blog, CCVM didn’t invent this.  For at least 20 years now, people like Rush Limbaugh have propagated this kind of attitude, and the work of conservative pundits like Ann Coulter, Thomas Sowell and Michael Savage have capitalized on it.

As I commented to armyanimaldoctor yesterday, I’m not terribly interested in understanding or sorting out the psyches of the hate-filled–even if I thought I could.  Yes, as somebody who studies and teaches rhetoric for a living, I realize it’s important to understand an audience you might need or want to persuade.  But in this situation, members of the Sheepdogs and CCVM just aren’t part of that audience.  There’s nothing I can say to them, or they to me, that’s going to convince anybody to change our minds.

With that said, I do think it’s important to talk about their claim that they’re the “true patriots.”  No they aren’t.  Not that they aren’t patriotic–they seem to believe, at least, that they’re working for the good of the country.  But they don’t get to own the term “patriotism” just because they say they do.  They have no right to determine or make declarations about other people’s intentions; they have no right to silence people they disagree with simply because they disagree.

Or put another way: we can’t stop them from hating us.  Armyanimaldoctor makes quites clear that he hates us, and I have to imagine he’s not alone.  But hate isn’t patriotism.  In fact, I believe it’s exactly the opposite.  What CCVM practices isn’t patriotism; it’s hate-triotism.  Clearly, they no respect for the freedoms that many of them (those who have actually done military service) say they risked their lives for.  Clearly they have no  respect for people who don’t blindly subscribe to their culture of fear and violence.  Patriotism is about loving your country, not hating it.  It’s about loving your fellow citizens, whatever disagreements you might have with them, not hating them.  It’s about loving the exercise of freedom, not hating it.

I can understand, on some abstract level, how somebody who has seen combat might resent (or even hate) anybody who thinks war is wrong.  And that’s their right.  But that’s not patriotism.  And it’s wrong for them to shroud their own, individual, psychological responses to their combat experiences in American flags.  They don’t own our country; their combat experiences don’t give them any right to assert moral superiority over anybody else.  Combat experience gives them two claims I can’t make for myself: (1) they have the courage to stare down the barrel of a gun (in either direction), which I don’t have; and (2) the very specific type of discipline, which I’m glad I don’t have, that comes from being soldiers.  That’s all they get.  In return, they should be compensated fairly and well taken care of when their service ends.  They should not, under any circumstances, be allowed to monopolize claims to patriotism.  And they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to do so simply because they hate people who disagree with them.

There are lots of ways to be patriotic, and most of them don’t require military service or combat experience.  And the courage to face danger and death doesn’t authorize military members to decide how freedom gets taken up and used in our own country.  Thanks for your service, but until there’s a military coup, you’re not in charge here.  Hate me all you want, but as long as we live under a civilian government, that’s all you get.

9 Responses to Hate-triotism

  1. Greg Carmichael says:

    I agree with your contention that conservatives act as if they have a monopoly on patriotism. I feel that the current situation in Iraq is a bad one and therefore bad for our country. To oppose it is precisely patriotic because that is what is best for our country. To define patriotism as supporting anything our government does, good or bad, is idiotic.

    But let’s take a look at your use of the word “hate” in this context and in the larger context of the current political climate. It seems to me that liberals have monopolized that word just as much as conservatives have monopolized patriotism. Hate is a very strong word and I try to use it sparingly, yet for the left it is one of their greatest tools. For instance, if someone opposes the homosexual lifestyle based on their religious views, liberals call this “hate.” It is not always. I know plenty of people who disagree with this lifestyle and vote accordingly, but will be cordial to gay people. Call it ignorance or intolerance if you must, but it is not hate.

    Liberals have also monopolized the word “racist.” There are many racist people in our country, but opposing legislation that purports to benefit minorities is not racist, especially when much of this legislation does just the opposite.

    Many liberals love to play the race and hate cards when someone simply disagrees with their point of view. This is intellectually shallow and manipulative. It immediately labels the so-called offending party and puts them on the defensive with little regard for the reasoning behind their stance.

    I remember about a decade ago, after the Republicans took control of Congress, a ubiquitous bumper sticker on liberals’ cars was “Hate is Not a Family Value.” The left seems to have forgotten the importance of this catchphrase. Ever since Dubya took office, there has been more spewing of hate from the left than ever before–they hate Bush, they hate Cheney, they hate the war, they hate Republicans, they hate Imus, etc. I don’t question their reasons for their opposition; in fact I very often side with them on these issues. But if hate is not a family value, if a hateful attitude is something to which none of us aspire, let’s make sure we don’t spread it under any circumstance.

    Great blog, Seth…keep up the good work!


  2. armyanimaldoc says:

    CCVM sends care packages to troops and welcomes them back with gratitude for their service. When they come back with good and bad stories to tell, CCVM listens to all stories, not just the ones that jive with an agenda. CCVM and it’s members have the right to hate, dislike, disapprove, or any other “dis” they like when CCPM calls them baby killers (whether present day GWOT Veterans or the Vietnam Veterans upon their return 35+ years ago), slap cameras out of their hands and verbally and physically assault them, and lie in the LTEs. CCPM hates America, they hate the military, and they hate anyone who would contest their myopic and unsubstantiated view on the war or reality in general. Flying flags that are aberrations of the true American flag show the worst kind of hate there is – self-loathing, i.e. blame-America-first. CCVM loves America and what she stands for; they love the troops and what they fight for. More of the CCVM has BEEN in the shoes of those troops than those of the CCPM, and most troops that return from theater these days feel supported by CCVM and not CCPM. CCPM never stops to ask the troops, “Do you feel, by my words and actions, supported by us?” They don’t ask because 1) they don’t care and 2) they already know that the answer would be a resounding “NO!” That’s why troops who have been over there 2 or 3 times do hate you. Their sacrifice of life, limb, and time away from family and safety is spit on by you, just as you did in Vietnam. To NOT hate you would be automaton, non-human, irrational. To suppress animosity for your undermining agenda would go against their core values because you display none of those. Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage. CCPM displays none of those attributes, but instead snipes at the character of honorable veterans by terms of conjecture behind the security of their keyboards…against changing nothing. Deayana, I’ve faced the dangers of al Qaeda and Jaish al Mahdi on their home turf, and you think your dimwitted grammar school comebacks, “Seth’s” logic by enumeration, or misery-loves-company responses by “Greg” empower you? Keep dreaming. You are fringe and insignificant. THAT is why you hate US. LMFAO!

  3. armyanimaldoc says:

    P.S. Hating your own country by it’s own definition is not patriotism. CCPM hates America, ergo they are unpatriotic. CCPM and Michelle Obama can try to prove to me they don’t hate this country. I rest my case.

  4. armyanimaldoc says:

    American Heritage Dictionary
    Definition of Patriotism:
    n. Love of and devotion to one’s country.
    Definition of Patriot:
    n. One who loves, supports, and defends one’s country.
    CCPM displays neither love nor devotion to the United States. To the United Nations and Haight Ashbury perhaps. You are not patriots. You are insurgents.

  5. Raoul says:

    [As I commented to armyanimaldoctor yesterday, I’m not terribly interested in understanding or sorting out the psyches of the hate-filled–even if I thought I could.]

    But you want to understand the “root causes” of terrorists.

    Talk With Iran (but not fellow Amwericans).

    There’s a tern for you Seth, “Quesling”.

  6. Skye says:

    Or put another way: we can’t stop them from hating us.

    This goes both ways: What can the CCVM do to stop them from hitting us.

  7. sethkahn says:

    Raoul: I’m happy to talk with fellow Americans. I’m talking with you right now. What I said was that I’m not interested in psychoanalyzing people I don’t know.

    As I see it right now, your side and ours have little common ground on which to debate the issues, much less to agree on them. You’ve got your ground staked out, and so do we. Hurling accusations of treason back and forth isn’t going to make that any better.

    It’s your right to say whatever you want. But if you expect to change my mind about anything, calling me a traitor isn’t going to make me listen to you.

    Skye: I’ve seen the video too. I’ve also seen hours of video, much of which is posted on You-Tube, of CCVM yelling abusive comments about us, particularly about Karen Porter, from across the streeet. I’ve also eye-witnessed harassment and threats, some of which have been directed at me. Is that enough to go to court with? No, I realize it isn’t. But I know perfectly well that CCVM’s strategy has been, all along, to provoke anger. It worked once. You’re doing it now on my blog. The stuff on your blog, and on the Sheepdogs website, certainly confirms that strategy. More power to you, as long as nobody gets hurt, but don’t call it anything other than what it is.

  8. Dan says:

    “There are lots of ways to be patriotic, and most of them don’t require military service or combat experience.”

    But few rise to that level of devotion and sacrifice and deserve commensurate respect. Your service to this country, whatever it is, certainly does not. So your lack of respect borders on contempt.

    “And the courage to face danger and death doesn’t authorize military members to decide how freedom gets taken up and used in our own country. ”

    Neither do they claim that right. If you would only take time to listen to yourself and those who oppose you, you would understand that their “hatred” of what you stand for comes from their deep love and affection for this country and those who now stand in harms way to defend what it respresents. All they ask is that you do not foolishly endanger their lives with your naive attempts to change the course of history. This fight is well underway. It is time for you to lead, follow, or get out of the way.

  9. sethkahn says:

    Dan, there’s no contempt here, unless in your world “perspective” and “contempt” mean the same thing. All I was after in this entry was to remind people–myself included–that doing serving in the military doesn’t authorize soldiers to trump anybody else’s right to dissent against bad policy.

    I disagree that other forms of patriotism and service don’t deserve “commensurate” respect. That’s what this whole debate is about. Actually, let me say that a different way. Soldiers deserve a great deal of respect for their courage and braveness. But there are lots of people doing lots of service for our country that deserve equal respect based on the importance of the work itself. So teachers, for example, don’t have to worry (most of the time) about guns or bombs, but that doesn’t mean the impact they have on our country is any less important. My point is that soldiers deserve a huge amount of respect, but not at the expense of recognizing the importance of what other public servants do. I realize that’s not a popular point of view, and I understand why it rankles you, but I felt like it needed to get said.

    You should also understand that it probably would never have occurred to me to say it had CCVM not started playing that card at their rallies and in letters to editors. Given (from CCPM’s perspective) the continual effort to silence our group, the claim that being a soldier means you get to trump anybody else’s perspective fits right into the larger strategy.

    I do listen to what you and others say, sir. And I can understand your point that soldiers’ reactions to CCPM and other peace activist groups is, in part, born from their love of country. My point, if you’ll do the same courtesy of listening as you’ve asked me to do, is that the courage to serve in the military is NOT any more evidence of patriotism than the willingness to fight against injustice and inequality (or, if you like, the fight for freedom and democracy).

    The perspective you’re coming from rejects that position out of hand. It bothers me that you (and others who make similar arguments) demand that we listen to you, but you won’t listen in return. You make all kinds of assertions about what you think we’re doing and saying, what our goals and intentions are, etc, but you refuse to acknowledge that we might actually be telling the truth when we respond to those.

    There’s no revolution on the agenda here, folks. Unless you consider it revolutionary to practice the democracy this country is built for. Are there individuals in the group whose politics are more radical than others? Maybe, but there are also people who have left CCPM because it’s not radical enough. Your group on one side of the street and ours on the other are doing precisely the same thing–engaging in democratic practice, trying to mobilize people to do what we think is right. If that makes us revolutionary, than so are you–call it a draw.

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