Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Country 'Tis of Thee

Do you remember when you learned that song as a kid? I do...I sang "My Country Tizzovthee" with no clue what it meant, and I bet you did too. But as I got older, I understood the words, and the sentiment behind them.

I'm an unashamed patriot. I get choked up whenI hear our national anthem, and always have. Makes it tough when the DH and I do the announcing for the local high school football games! Living abroad as an Air Force pilot's wife just reinforced that, while it also gave me a perspective not everyone in the USA is able to obtain, seeing my country through the prism of a foreign eye. I remember after my eldest daughter was born, we went to our embassy in London to get her passport. I rounded the corner into the square where the embassy is located, and saw the huge Bald Eagle over the entry, and our flag, and tears filled my eyes. Of course, she was only a few weeks old so hormones were still askew, but I'm pretty sure it was mostly patriotism. :-)

And you know what? I bet you're a patriot too, whatever your country is. Good for you if you're a functioning, voting member of your have a right to be proud. Which is why I get so angry when I hear people disparaging another's patriotism just because their political beliefs aren't in lockstep with one another.

One side says that you aren't a patriot if you don't support war. Another says you aren't a patriot if you send wo/men off to be killed for another country. I say both sides love their country, and just have different feelings about what that means.

Democrats say Republicans aren't patriotic because they don't want to take care of people. Republicans say Democrats aren't patriotic because they want big government and take choice away from people. I say both sides are patriots and want to do their best, I just agree with one over the other!

So this week when a vicious attack piece against one of the Presidential candidates was posted on one of the knitting lists I moderate, I shut the discussion down immediately and put the poster on moderation, something I do as a second-to-last resort. Not to stifle their freedom of speech, but to prevent a flame war on a forum that has nothing to do with politics. To MY mind - the only one that matters for the sake of this blog! - slandering/libeling a candidate because you disagree with them? Now that is unpatriotic. Tearing down our political process for your own hate-mongering? Unpatriotic. Smearing someone who is willing to serve our country in a largely thankless job that's underpaid and overstressed? Unpatriotic. And I don't care which candidate you treat this way, or what nobles lies you tell yourself to rationalize doing are no patriot.

In this country, in any democracy, we give people a chance to speak, to believe and to act freely until that freedom impinges on the rights of others. To quote Voltaire (later also used by Jefferson) "I disapprove of what you say,but I will defend to the death your right to say it." So people have the right to spread lies and attempt to ruin reputations until it becomes actionable under law. That's the price we pay for living freely. But those of the world who force us to pay that price, to listen to their foulness, do not have the right to wrap themselves in our beautiful flag to do it.

Any person who tried to diminish another human being, for reasons of race, religion or politics...yeah, you got it. Not a patriot. Also not much of a person, in my book.

And after all, this IS my book.

1 comment:

KnitYoga said...

Diana, thanks for bringing the problem with my Etsy store to my attention in your blog comment. I've just realised what the problem was. I did restock it yesterday but what I didn't realise was that the hyperlink to Etsy in my blog post was going to the original listing which was still showing as sold out! I've changed the link so it now goes to the restocked listing. I don't want to restock with too many at a time as I think that you're charged for each item listed whether it sells or not and most are selling from Ravelry. I'll keep a close eye on it now though and restock as necessary.