Friday, November 2, 2012

Patriotism: This Week's GBE2 Writing Prompt

--by Mike Adams

I've pulled away from blogging in this forum, the result of working double time to promote my side business MLAdams, a remote PC maintenance service. All you need is internet and a connected computer. We can have your computer running better tomorrow! Seriously, I'm pretty good at this computer stuff, so if you need some computer support check it out. Also, if you just want some technical advice, check out my computer maintenance blog. Anyway, now that I've got my shameless plug out of the way, lets move on to the topic at hand, which is patriotism.

Sometimes, I feel that I have a lot to say on this topic, but upon careful examination, my thoughts really boil down to three main points:

  • A patriot is capable of changing their mind given a reasonable point. This is because patriots know that it isn't possible to always be right, so they are looking for where they are mistaken, because they want what is best for their nation.
  • A patriot knows that the political opposition is also patriotic and that their point of view is also based in some truth.Therefore, a real patriot values intelligent discussion with someone who disagrees. The true patriot knows that the best ideas are born in the creative mix of opposing and thoughtful opinion.
  • A patriot bristles at the use of these words in the name of political points, "fascist," "Nazi," "Hitler." The patriot knows that unless we are discussing Slobodan Milošević, idiocy rules when Nazis are introduced. Furthermore the use of Nazi or Hitler for political points it incredibly disrespectful to those who survived concentration camps and those who fought to liberate those camps in WWII.
Lets start with my first point and examine it in light of what we know about humanity. Having been a human being and lived among other humans for my whole life, I assert that the only thing humans can be certain of is that we are, all of us, often wrong. The best way to mitigate being often wrong is having facility with changing one's point of view when appropriate. I contend that loving one's country and wanting what is best for one's community necessitate a willingness to admit when we are mistaken and change our point/s of view. Anything less is specifically unpatriotic! In fact, it is narcissistic platitude masquerading as national pride. Beware nationalists, you best not stare into the mirror too long, you'll be stuck gazing with love at your own misguided self-importance and misperceived infallibility.

This is a perfect time to launch into my next point about knowing that the political opposition is most likely patriotic too. Their thoughts and opinions are based on their view of life, and their lifes' experiences. So quit villainizing them. I mean it quit that right now! We're never going to get anything done of the two or more partisan sides don't grow the f#%k up, quit calling each other names, and sit down at the table like adults to figure this mess out. SO STOP NAME CALLING! DO IT NOW! RIGHT NOW!

For those who know me, you'll know that I tend to be pretty left leaning. Well it turns out that one of my friends and business associates is pretty right leaning. He also happens to be my favorite person in the whole world to discuss politics with. He is a lawyer, he is widely read and his opinions have germinated in the fertile ground of reason, cultivated with facts and nuance. In short, we challenge each other, and in any conversation, either one of us is willing to change our mind. The last time we talked, we joked, half seriously on my part, that we should host a radio talk show. It might not do very well, but it would be the one political show, where the ideas being discussed are being examined using nuance, fact and apparently opposing ideologies. In short, we might come up with some really good and creative ideas in such an atmosphere. That is what our country and world need right now. A healthy exchange of ideas among thoughtful and reasonable people...everyone else, should either take a deep breath and come sit at the grownups table or just sit this one out, Real Housewives or 90210 is supposed to be great this coming season. We'll let you know what we come up with in a 30 second spot after we've ironed out the complicated parts.

Finally, the most personal point I have to make. The Hitler, Nazi or fascist point. Take a break from the TV if you just turned it on in the previous paragraph, because this is important. Stop invoking Hitler, or Nazis or fascists for US politicians, unless they propose that we start some ethnic cleansing or that we send the Cherokee on another long walk. 

I've often wondered when history started getting such short shrift in school. When I was in school, we were taught that the Nazis were infamous for murdering 8 millions Jews and roughly 13 - 16 million people in concentration camps during WWII. This next part bears emphasis, so pay attention: NO US PRESIDENT IN MY LIFETIME HAS DONE ANYTHING COMPARABLE! Not GW, Not Barack Obama, so quit using Hitler or the Nazis to paint these Presidents. It doesn't make your point at all. Rather, people like me, who know about the Nazis, look at your picture of a sitting US President with a Hitler mustache and think, "My God that person is truly an idiot!" 

So my advice, just stop!

Background: my wife's family, on her father's side, is Jewish. I have in-laws, whose parents survived Nazi concentration camps, and who lost every single person they had ever known to the Nazi genocide. So if you are going to invoke the word Nazi, it better be for someone who is engaged in mass murder, otherwise you just painted a giant target on your forehead, which beckons me to label you as a complete ass and a thorough idiot. This third point is really just and outgrowth of the first two points, but I felt it had to be made, so just expunge the words Nazi, Hitler or fascist from your working vocabulary and make room for some other more meaningful words.

If you are still reading, thanks for sticking with me through this rant...I appreciate it and hope you will join me on the road to an intelligent national dialogue about something...anything, please!