Newsflash, Conservatives: Right-Wing Jingoism Isn’t Patriotic

Conservatives love America like a child loves his mommy, and mommy can do no wrong. Whereas we (liberals) love America like an adult loves someone, recognizing our mate has faults and taking the good with the bad, and always working to appreciate what’s there, being critical of what’s wrong and trying to help and make it better.” – Al Franken

In the eyes of a conservative, patriotism in today’s America means three things: anything non-white and non-Christian is threatening; to disagree with or criticize your country is treason; we must bomb and invade every country we deem inferior.

The definition of jingoism is extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive or warlike foreign policy. Synonyms include, but are not limited to: chauvinism, extreme nationalism, xenophobia, flag-waving, hawkishness, militarism, belligerence and bellicosity.

Gee, what group of people do these definitions fit?

A perfect example of how Republicans have perverted American patriotism to satisfy their outdated and offensive viewpoints is the Confederate flag. While some members of the GOP realize keeping it up is political suicide, the voters within their party have become outright Confederate apologists, claiming the flag is about America’s history and their “heritage.” (Hint: it’s actually part of the no longer existent Confederate States of America’s history.) The flag represented, and still does, white-man’s feeling of superiority over black people, disdain for the Union and a hatred for one of America’s best presidents. Waving that flag around like it represents something glorious in America’s history is a slap in the face to our country’s promise of a more perfect union. Support for that flag is not patriotism, it’s borderline treason. Southern apartheid is not something to take pride in.

And racism seems to be a non-issue for the GOP. Somehow Donald Trump has managed to become number two in the race for the White House. Yes, you read that right. Even though Trump is being hammered by the private sector for his inflammatory and highly racist remarks against Latinos, the voters on the right are flocking to support him. Those people are probably the same ones who support the confederate flag. Ann Coulter’s book Adios, America, is a New York Times bestseller, and it is riddled with right-wing paranoia and xenophobia. It is no secret that immigration will be a major issue, if not the biggest issue, in 2016. How Republicans will respond to it will determine how the elections turn out.

Going back to flags, amidst the Ferguson decision, many Americans (even some progressives) were besides themselves when protestors burned the American flag in the streets. They said “If you don’t like the flag, you can leave.” They said, “How can you possibly love America and desecrate her flag?” Many of these people felt the need to invoke “the troops” argument to show how burning the flag was the worst thing you could possibly do.

But burning or desecrating the flag is protected free speech under the First Amendment. You can thank Justice Antonin Scalia for being the deciding vote in that decision. Flag burning, while it may seem over the top, is a legitimate protest when one feels their government is in distress. It’s a powerful statement that invokes multitudes of emotion, as it should. Unfortunately, conservatives have turned flag burning into an anti-patriotism sentiment and have overlooked the fact that burning the flag (if for the right reasons) is the most patriotic thing you can do. Having the courage to boldly speak out when your nation is in distress is the epitome of patriotism.

The thing that separates progressives and conservatives is progressives have the ability to criticize their country. According to progressives, dissent is patriotic. To conservatives, dissent is treason, America can do no wrong. Extreme flag-waving, faux-patriotic sentiments are nothing but right-wing nationalism jingoism.

Which side do you want to be on?

Feature image via Gage Skidmore