Saturday, May 16, 2009

Patriotism, Liberty and Tolerance

An exchange on NextRight on Defining patriotism. I originally said:

Finally, I believe strongly that America is the greatest nation on earth. This is not a blind faith, but one based on the experience of living in another country and visiting two dozen other countries in my lifetime. We are the best nation on earth because of the greatness of our people, and our people are great because of our traditions of Judeo-Christian faith and morality, liberty, and self-reliant individualism. Should we lose those cultural traditions, or turn away from God, our national greatness will fade away. That knowledge motivates me to support the continuation of our liberty and traditions in our nation.
My explanation of the use of the term Patriot and what it means to me: I had specific and good reasons to use that term Patriot. It came out of a realization that PATRIOTS in the American Revolution were actually PARTISANS to a particular cause, the cause of maintaining a particular relationship between peopleand Government, in one word that relationship is - freedom. IN two words democracy and freedom. I am really speaking of allegiance to America, but "America" has to have some meaning and I see that meaning as the America that has had 200+ years as a land of freedom and democratic rule.

I got the following response, and the rest of this article is that exchange:

I'm sorry, but when you define patriotism as a judeo-christian thing, you exclude those who are not judeo-christian. Claiming that atheists, muslims, hindi, and all who hold values not rooted in judaism or christianity are unpatriotic is not very patriotic in itself.

There you go again. A strawman. I did NOT state that anyone was unpatriotic. I simply explained what MY patriotism meant to ME and I was asking YOU how you define it for YOU. Still waiting for an answer.

It IS clear that our founding fathers were for the most part Christians. It is clear that our heritage is Judeo-Christian. I simply am stating clear historical fact. Muslims, Hindus etc. had almost zero impact on our culture or history and have not been a part of US until recent immigrations. Yet those who are here can be and are pattiotic Americans now, and you do not have to be Christian to appreciate how our Judeo-Christian heritage laid the groundwork for religious liberty in America.

Actually, it's just another example of bigotry.

No, its an example of me being historically accurate. This country has been founded and based on Judeo-Christian mores, culture, values and faith. It is unique in its heritage of religious liberty that sprang from diverse Christian faiths co-mingling. Name a Muslim-heritage country with that legacy of long-standing liberty and religious freedom. Name a Hindu one. You cant.

The commenter challenged:

The reason our founders demanded a separation between church and state was because they wanted a tolerant society.

Our founters wanted a separation of church and state to protect the moral and religious people of the United States from persecution of their beliefs by government. They wanted to correct the errors of the European states where the state would establish one religion and force another Christian sect underground. The colonies has catholics, quakers, puritans, congregationalists, anglicans, ana-baptists and others who came to the colonies to practice freely their religion. Though they had religious liberty at the Federal level, many states had established churches in the early days, and almost ALL had a religious test to serve in public office. They were gradually removed over the next 100 years.

They wanted a moral and Christian society, and 'tolerance' is but one of MANY virtues - compassion, respect, integrity, prudence, diligence, propriety, righteousness, piety, love, gratitude, courage, etc. - that they felt made for a moral people.

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the priveledge and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” -First Supreme Court Justice John Jay (served from 1789 to 1795)

John Jay authored the Federalist papers.

The commenter challenged: So please let's not pretend your intolerant positions are somehow part of an american tradition, and let's not pretend they have anything to do with patriotism.

Tolerance is an emotion and belief-set as well as a virtue. Demanding 'tolerance' out of a person or calling them intolerant is actually an aggresive act since you are demanding them to hold to certain beliefs about something or be considered morally inferior. Tolerance is abused and over-rated when used as a club to browbeat those to thought-conformity. To use it against those who adhere to appreciation of America's traditions is an ironic and harmful act.

Our founders wanted liberty not tolerance. Tolerance is a virtue (one of many), but liberty is a fundamental right. Our rights are inalienable, not subject to whims of what others think or not. One fundamental aspect of that is freedom of conscience, which incorporates religious liberty but also incorporates freedom of conscience. It's a great legacy but one liberals are throwing in the garbage can by using the 'bigot' card against someone and trying to turn patriotism into a kind of ThoughtCrime.

Samuel Johnson's "The Patriot":

A patriot is he whose publick conduct is regulated by one single motive, the love of his country; who, as an agent in parliament, has, for himself, neither hope nor fear, neither kindness nor resentment, but refers every thing to the common interest.

An American patriot is someone who loves this country for what it once was, what it today, and what it can be tomorrow, and is willing to work to make that better America a reality.

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