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.