Over the past twenty years, a strain of “pseudo patriotism” has arisen within America. This particular ailment is not the genuine love of country and love of community which is learned through involvement in organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H and Key Clubs. Instead, it is a perversion of the American ideal; the notion that any concept, an idea which runs contrary to the group think is more than just a fast track to becoming a social pariah, it is a betrayal of the nation at large. To the pseudo-patriot, disagreement with anything they stand for is tantamount to treason and the person who holds those viewed must be destroyed, either through social or, at the extreme end, physically. Many pseudo-patriots, at least those on social media, also espouse the “got mine” mentality – I have what I worked hard for, and anyone who attempts to take it away, or tax the value of it, is either stealing or a traitor who must be destroyed.
These are not the “God, Guns and Gold” Americans who work hard, believe in the values of the Constitution, and hold fast to their religious belief while still showing compassion for their fellow-man. These are the ones who, if you disagree with their ideology in any way, would just as soon see you dead on the ground and eliminate that which they see in their mind as a threat. Worse still, they are the most easily seduced into cults of political and ideological personality.
The correlation between the pseudo-patriot and the blind followers of the totalitarian dictators, be they far right or far left, is disturbing at best. This is a group of Americans who are not interested in creating the “more perfect union,” as our Founders envisioned. They are not oriented towards helping their countrymen to create a better tomorrow; rather, they wish to turn back the clock to a time when everything made sense in their eyes, when every man and woman “knew their place,” and when ethnic groups were kept “where they belonged.” For these individuals, the world is not about race or economics, it’s about a warped desire to create an America they claim existed decades ago. The ugly reality many of them cannot face is that the America they long for never truly existed.
Now for the most disturbing part of all; many folks of this ilk harbor a near visceral hatred of the poor and downtrodden in this country, especially minorities. They are the ones who go beyond being against illegal immigration or being pro-life; they are the sort who blame the rape victim, who feel women should be barefoot and pregnant, who believe blacks were better off under segregation and Jim Crow, and think all of America’s wealthy can do no wrong because of their wealth. Their hatred goes beyond the sort which is rooted in ignorance; this is a venomous emotion born of anger and resentment, much of which has been planted by conservative talk radio hosts who don’t even believe the very tripe they are peddling, but instead do so for the sake of ratings and advertising dollars, and are encouraged by politicians who see the opportunity to seize power using the hateful as their willing patsies. They have been turned against their countrymen not because they are traitors, but because they no longer see a fit in the world they live in, and wish to destroy that world so they can return to what makes sense to them.
When they see those who are poor, they immediately assume the poor deserve their lot in life. A man who is penniless made bad choices, they say. A woman who is a single mom must have had her children out-of-wedlock, and the drug addict is just a total degenerate. They are all, to quote Ayn Rand, worthless eaters, then profess “Christian faith” and quote scripture, much of which is cherry-picked to suit their own prejudice. Never considered is the possibility a man could have lost everything due to a dishonest stock broker or corporate raider with friends in high place who flouted the law. The notion a woman could be a single mom because she fled a husband who abused her or molested her children is impossible to grasp – she must have brought it on somehow. Then there is the granddaddy of them all – a drug addict whose condition was created by a doctor who prescribed a perfectly legal opiate and set the patient on their merry way, never bothering to the counsel them on the dangers of the medication but eminently willing to over prescribe. The great irony in the latter statement is that many of these judgmental folks suffer from some form addiction themselves, be it nicotine (cigarettes), alcoholism or gambling. They possess a alt-right ideology steeped in hypocrisy.
This issue isn’t about safe spaces, or Muslim vs Christian, or liberal vs conservative; it’s about the need to accept that some of our citizens would rather end First Amendment guarantees than have to be adults and face the fact that others will disagree with them. As Americans, the only way to stamp out the pseudo-patriot is to ignore them. Thankfully many conservative Christians have been marginalize this attitude, as evidence by recent policy changes by the Southern Baptist Convention. Yes, arch-conservatives will argue against abortion and government regulation the same as arch-liberals will scream for high taxes on the rich and abortion on demand. So-called “Social Justice Warriors” will always be among us, and many of them will always be misdirected to point of annoyance and, in some extreme cases, criminal activity which is no better than the arrogant “got mine” attitude of the pseudo-patriot. What is important to remember is that in our country, for the moment anyway, all ideas have a place at the table. We remain a nation where bloodshed over political ideology remains the rare exception, and we should pray it remains that way.
The very foundation of our national greatness is not in what America once was and should be again, but in taking the very best of what once was and creating something even better out of it tomorrow.