Earlier this month, I posted an article about how I thought Christianity and Conservatism were contradictory ideas. This time, I’m going to talk about two more antithetical ideas. Those ideas would be patriotism and revolutionary… ism.
Quick side note. What inspired me to write this, is my conservative brother shared this picture on Facebook. No big deal. I mean, logically, it’s a statement that would have to be demonstrated, but that’s just me nitpicking.
I basically made a concise version of this article in the comments section, and then had a very peaceful and polite conversation with one of my brother’s friends about the topic. It quickly devolved into discussing religion, yet the conversation remained peaceful and polite. We both listened to each other’s arguments, and then presented our rebuttals.
I bring this up to point out what I’ve been saying for a while. We need to be able to have grownup conversations with people with whom we disagree. Maybe I didn’t sway him. Maybe I didn’t sway anyone who read it. But by talking, by trying to understand each other’s positions, and arguing the POSITIONS, not the PEOPLE involved, THAT is how adults solve problems. There’s a reason conservative pundits are perfectly comfortable going on liberal shows. Liberals need to stop resorting to labels and start proving their arguments. Maybe, just maybe, by correcting a few mistaken assumptions about liberals and atheism, he’ll have a better appreciation of what our positions actually are.
Anyway. Here’s my basic argument. It seems that the people who are proud to wave the Southern flag are the same people who brag about being “real ‘Muricans” and “patriotic Americans”. How can you be a patriot, while flying the flag of a rebellion against that government?
A patriot is “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”
A revolutionary is “a person who wishes to destroy or replace a government or idea.”
Think of George Washington. Would you consider him a British patriot? No. He was an American patriot. If these people called themselves “Confederate patriots”, then that would be a justified position. When they call themselves “American patriots”, then it’s a contradiction. You can’t claim to support your country, while at the same time, supporting the overthrow or succession of/from that same country.
The reply I got, was that some people feel like the government has changed so much, that they want their country back. Fine. But how does the Confederacy play into that? The Confederacy was a separate government. They aren’t fighting to bring the United States back to the old days, they are fighting to change the United States into the Confederacy. It’s not like we started out as the Confederate States of American and then a bunch of gay people put glitter on some maps and made the country fabulously united. The morality of the country shifted from “we don’t like slaves, but we’ll tolerate it” to “yeah, slavery is wrong”. The Southern states wanted the right to decide on their own, if slaves would be allowed, and decided that they wanted to start their own country. A separate country. A country that was not the United States.
Then, of course, we got into the usual paranoia about how Christianity was under attack, and I’ve already written about that, so I’ll move on.
I’m not sure why this seems like such a stretch of the imagination. It seems pretty clear cut. If you support a rebellion against a government, you can’t say that you love said government. I mean, how can you argue that?
I’m not even going on a tirade against the Confederacy. I agree, that the way our government is designed, is that the Federal Government creates general guidelines. Then the State Governments fine tune those guidelines so that they fit within the federal guidelines. Then the Local Governments fine tune them even further. The south believed that the Federal Government wanted to create guidelines that were too specific. It’s the same argument that is used today about regulation and taxation. I get it. I understand the argument. It’s also irrelevant.
I didn’t even bring up the hilariously accurate argument of “You lost, get over it.”, which is the same thing these people say about Secretary Clinton and President Trump. Just, logically, these are competing terms and ideas. You can’t be a patriot for the old government and support a rebellion to start a new government.
I think the problem is twofold. One, many of these people are victims of our crumbling educational system. A lot of, shall we say, “rural” or “hill” people don’t read too good. The person with whom I was discussing this was clearly not part of this group. I’ve gone on record multiple times saying that most Americans (on both sides of the political spectrum) are stupid. This group in particular, tends to either be misinformed, or deliberately ignorant. Whereas my side tends to feel morally superior and obstinate.
Two, I think we all tend to have a sort of nostalgic idealization of the past. I think that some people think of the Civil War or “The War of Northern Aggression” or whatever you want to call it, as a sort of noble war. Like, whichever side you take, your soldiers fought for higher principles. It was a moral crusade. Your team was fighting the EVIL other side.
That type of rhetoric is great for inspiring your team, but the reality is, that there is a cultural difference between the Yanks and the trailer people. There always has been. I’ve said before that I support secession. In the end, the north won. But in the mind of the southerner, the war… just kind of… paused? They have these rallying cries of the “south will rise again”. Sure it’s been 150 years. But it will come. Any day now. Just like Jesus.
All of this is fine. You want to root for the underdog? Be my guest. That’s our origin story, after all. But you can’t claim to be an American patriot, if you are hoping for it to be cut in half. You can’t claim to be an American patriot, if you want it to become something else. You can’t claim to be an American patriot, if you don’t want America to be… well, America.