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Feb 06 2012

Mitt Romney’s Empty Nationalist Idiocy

Samuel Johnson didn’t really mean what we typically mean today when we quote his adage that “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels,” but it’s certainly true that patriotism — or a very shallow facsimile of it — is the first refuge of politicians who have nothing of actual substance to say. Mitt Romney, who keeps blathering on about how much he loves America, is the current poster boy for this disease at the heart or our facile political discourse. But check this out:

Buzzfeed has images of people of other countries putting their hands over their hearts while singing their national anthems too. But seriously, who gives a shit? Does putting your hand over your heart actually mean anything or do anything? Of course not. It’s as ridiculous as those who think wearing a flag pin on your lapel means you’re a patriot or that putting a yellow ribbon on your car actually helps the troops somehow. Who could possibly think this matters other than the congenital idiots who get weepy eyed at Lee Greenwood songs? Jesus, I hate this shit. It’s like we’re a nation of 9 year olds.

Real patriotism is working to make sure your country lives up to its stated ideals, that it actually try to achieve liberty, equality and justice. Fake patriotism is wearing empty symbols and putting on conspicuous shows of love of country as empty gestures to impress others.

34 comments

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  1. 1
    jamessweet

    Jesus, I hate this shit. It’s like we’re a nation of 9 year olds.

    Exactly. What really makes our country great is that we’re the only nation whose politicians cross their fingers when they tell a lie. That makes it just fine, see?

  2. 2
    imrryr

    B-but what’s his stance on mom’s home-baked apple pie?

  3. 3
    slc1

    One has to do something when one finds himself trailing by 15 points.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-holds-edge-over-romney-in-general-election-matchup-poll-finds/2012/02/05/gIQA5JX0sQ_story.html

  4. 4
    Area Man

    Samuel Johnson didn’t really mean what we typically mean today when we quote his adage that “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels,”

    What is it that people think he meant? I always assumed that he wasn’t indicting patriotism in general, but rather saying that scoundrels adopt a pose of patriotism to hide their misdeeds. Same is true with religion. Which pretty much explains today’s Republican party.

  5. 5
    Big Boppa

    Fake patriotism is wearing empty symbols and putting on conspicuous shows of love of country as empty gestures to impress others.

    And those who engage in such open shows of fake patriotism are most often the same folks who make a concerted effort to display their xtian piety.

  6. 6
    holytape

    Well thank God we’re not Europe, with their higher life-expectancy, higher standards of education and their efficient mass transit systems. I love America, I love Jesus, I love babies and I love most of all the american baby Jesus.

  7. 7
    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    But he’s right! People from other nations may put their hands on their chests, but that’s not where their hearts are! They’re all aliens whose hearts are somewhere in the neighborhood of their kidneys, like Mr. Spock’s. Only true Americans have hearts where their hearts are supposed to be.

  8. 8
    John Hinkle

    *sniff*

    If the Staple Singers were in background choir formation and humming Battle Hymn of the Republic, I would’ve lost it!

    I’m so totally voting for Mitt now.

    [dabs eyes]

  9. 9
    marcus

    “Real patriotism is working to make sure your country lives up to its stated ideals, that it actually try to achieve liberty, equality and justice.” QFFT!
    And then the wingnuts will ask you, “But why do you hate America?”

  10. 10
    naturalcynic

    Why not go back to the original Bellamy pledge of allegiance salute.

  11. 11
    Chris from Europe

    People who insist on showing patriotism are in my view exclusively “fake patriotists”. One may wish that patriotism would follow marcus’ definition, but the supposed “fake patriotism” seems to be the real one.

  12. 12
    TX_secular

    Check out this interview of Jonathan Haigt discussing the psychological moral underpinnings of the differing world views of conservatives and liberals:

    http://billmoyers.com/video/

    It really explains quite a bit of the election rhetoric.

    He also has a TED video.

  13. 13
    Chris from Europe

    What real “patriotism” ought to be, is constitutional patriotism, focusing on the ideals of the Constitution instead of flags, hymns and an identity defined by race and religion.

  14. 14
    xray

    Dr Johnson may be correct, but these days I always say: “States’ Rights” is the last refuge of scoundrels.

  15. 15
    Chris A

    From my experience, for what it is worth, the louder someone is with <opinion A>, the less it is worth listening to on average.

  16. 16
    Reginald Selkirk

    Romney also regularly blathers on about how the economy is improving in spite of Obama’s policies, which are bad for the economy. I notice there is never any detail given on:
    1) How Obama’s economic policies are bad
    2) Why current policy failure is the fault of Obama, rather than the fault of an obstructionist Republican House
    3) How any of the Republican candidates, including Romney, would do better.
    .
    And this safety net for the very poor that Romney promises to mend, how is he going to do that while cutting taxes for rich people like himself?

  17. 17
    heironymous

    FDR? Really, Mitt? You’re going with FDR?
    Isn’t your first goal in the White House to undo what he did?

  18. 18
    RustD

    “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels,” “Samuel Johnson”

    “Prayer. The last refuge of a scoundrel.” “Lisa Simpson”

  19. 19
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Where do we matriots fit in?

  20. 20
    Chiroptera

    If he were advocating pastrytism, I’d be totally in!

  21. 21
    sumdum

    Here you rarely see the national flag, except on national holidays and perhaps if some foreign dignitary is visiting, or some dutch dignitary is visiting another country. That american flagwaving always makes me feel a bit uneasy.

  22. 22
    Chiroptera

    sumdum, #21:

    And flying it over government buildings. ‘Cause I’ve always felt that the only reason to have a flag is so you know where the post office is.

  23. 23
    exdrone

    I always thought people placed their hands on their chests to see if they were bleeding because of their flag pins sticking into their chests or, if not, to push the pins in harder … harder, dammit.

  24. 24
    The Cat From Outer Space

    Fake patriotism is wearing empty symbols and putting on conspicuous shows of love of country as empty gestures to impress others.

    And don’t forget proclaiming “love it or leave!”

  25. 25
    andrewhall

    Mitt Romney can only simulate real emotions. This rubbish about hands over hearts is his bet shot at emotionally connecting with people.

  26. 26
    Ichthyic

    It’s like we’re a nation of 9 year olds.

    …and Nelson Muntz is laughing at you all.

  27. 27
    Ray C.

    PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.

    In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.

    –Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

  28. 28
    umlud

    How much difference in patriotism is there between government-mandated wearing of flag pins, attendance at national commemoration events, recital of the national slogans, singing of the national anthem, placement of the national figureheads, and memorizing the national philosophy from what the Republicans are effectively inculcating us into believing we must do?

    In other words, what North Korea has mandated as appropriate (and required) displays of nationalism is becoming less differentiated from the rhetoric that the Republican party is espousing regarding appropriate forms of national pride. It’s not nationalism. It’s a show. It’s another way to ostentatiously show how much “better” we are from “those people” who, by dint of not adequately wearing the stucco of patriotism, are obviously and logically “lesser” than the “us” who stand proud in our socially and politically accepted, mandated, and enforced regalia.

    If you ever get a chance to read the graphic novel Pyongyang I highly recommend it. The occasional panel that asks you to spot the non-patriot from a line-up (followed by the removal of one of the line-up, together with an explanation as to why they were sent to a “re-education camp”) seemed like a fantasy world to me when I first read it in 2007 – before the stupid “true patriots wear a flag pin” episodes that happened in this country. (Remember those good ole days when the Gipper wore his flag pin to those international summits? No? That’s because he DIDN’T!)

  29. 29
    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Isn’t your first goal in the White House to undo what he did?

    Mitt’s one and only goal is to get to the White House. I doubt he’s given a second’s thought to what he’d actually do once he was there.

  30. 30
    dogmeat

    Gotta love the ad for the “flag store” that is currently on the side bar. Perfect ad placement. ;o)

  31. 31
    sunsangnim

    Let’s not forget family*, too. Because people in other countries hate the concept of family. America is the only place that values family. And faith. America is the only country with religious faith, or at least the correct one.

    *”family”=”hating gay people”

  32. 32
    nmcc

    Great post Ed. It’s exactly how anyone with a couple of brain cells to rub together should think (notice I didn’t say feel) about patriotism. It really is an utter con trick and, what is worse, as soon as you spend 10 seconds studying patriotic ‘arguments’, you realise that patriotism is complete bollocks into the bargain.

    Some atheists argue that there’s a difference between patriotism, which they view as largely benign, and therefore acceptable, and nationalism, which, because it’s seen as somehow more ‘extreme’, is unacceptable. In my view, exactly the same kind of argument can be used in relation to patriotism and nationalism as is used by atheists to argue against ‘accommodation’ with religion. Just as moderate religion enables extremisim by affording it a veneer of respectability based on an implied underlying validity of the holy text, so patriotism enables the vicious malignity of nationalism through a knee-jerk, uncritical acceptance of the view that there’s such a thing as ‘we’ and ‘our’ when referring to the fact that a certain group of people happen to inhabit a certain region of the globe. In fact, more than ever in these days of global capitalism, working class interests are the same the world over – just as are those of the exploiting class of parasites.

  33. 33
    'Tis Himself

    Romney is in favor of motherhood and apple pie and against the man-eating shark. What more do we need to know about his policies?

  34. 34
    nmcc

    Not that it matters much, as there are about 10 entries from Ed after this post from him, but there are parts of my comment above that are strangely garbled. I thought I’d read over it before posting too! I hope the gist of it is easy to grasp at least. Apologies.

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