Last week, President Joe Biden said it’s the patriotic duty of Americans to wear masks while outside. Years ago, while campaigning as Barack Obama’s running mate, he said it was patriotic to pay higher taxes. It’s hard to decide if these statements are more akin to the ramblings of a child or are uncomfortably similar to Third World despots who demand obedience from their subordinated citizens.
Frankly, they’re both. Making a distinction is virtually impossible.
When we hear Biden try to force his view of patriotism on the country, we think of Woody Allen’s “Bananas,” the 1971 comedy in which a Castro-style revolutionary declares that not only “from this day on,” the official language of the banana republic of San Marcos “will be Swedish,” in addition, “all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check.” It’s about commanding, not persuading.
Biden wakes up every morning in the White House – whether he knows it or not – but that doesn’t give him the authority to define patriotism, nor to expect us to follow without question or dissent.
We concede that patriotism is not easy to define. We’re familiar with the line that one man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot, and we’re quite aware that waving the flag is sometimes nothing more than just creating a light breeze.
But we also know that George Washington warned us to “guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism,” and Theodore Roosevelt said “patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official.”
Biden wants to use his version of patriotism as a blunt instrument to forward the agenda of the left, which supports the most unpatriotic ideas imaginable. The left, a retrograde tribe made up of almost every Democratic politician and party official, nearly every member of the media, and most of the entertainment industry, does not believe in freedom outside of special privileges it’s carved out for itself. Respect for, and defense of, freedom should be the most patriotic act of all, considering that this nation was founded to establish an island of liberty in a world controlled by kings, queens, dynasties, emperors, and czars.
We recall that it was not that many months ago, while Donald Trump was still president, when the left argued that dissent was patriotic. Yet now patriotism to the left means (preferably blind and enthusiastic) compliance with government authority, conformity of thought, sheepishly handing over private resources to politicians, and a wholesale surrender to economic central planners.
While we’ll leave it to Americans to define patriotism for themselves, we will remind them what it isn’t. It’s not employing the jackboot of the state. It’s not bullying an ostensibly free people into submission. It’s not the erasure of our history nor unrelenting appeals for greater dependence on government.
And it’s most certainly not whatever sophomoric nonsense that pops out of Joe Biden’s mouth.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board