"This is at the same time both entirely right and fundamentally misleading. It leaves out what the flag represents. It glides over the fact that the national anthem sanctifies the “land of the free.” Our shrines are to patriots who upheld very specific American ideals. Our statues of soldiers commemorate heroes who died for something very different from what other warriors have fought and died for millennia. Every one of them — immigrants included — took an oath to defend not just some soil but our Constitution and by extension the ideals of the Founding. Walk around any European hamlet or capital and you will find statues of men who fell in battle to protect their tribe from another tribe. That doesn’t necessarily diminish the nobility of their deaths or the glory of their valor, but it is quite simply a very different thing they were fighting for."My husband and I were having a discussion over lunch about hypocrisy within the church, and I think that it comes down to a similar distinction-- It is dangerous to love being part of a church community (tribalism again) more than you love the values that The Church is supposed to advance in this world.
I think that this quote from the article can be applied in either case*:
"Left-wingers who fancy themselves ironically detached from patriotism and particularism and as avatars of a more sophisticated cosmopolitanism no doubt roll their eyes at such things, considering it so much schmaltz. Some might even snark that such patriotic piety is hypocritical given this or that crime — real or alleged — that America has committed. But hypocrisy is a charge every civilization opens itself to when it aims for an ideal higher and better than loyalty to tribe."*To be clear, I do NOT believe that American ideals and Church values are identical. I just try to live within the overlap of their Venn diagram.
The United States and the Church are both made up of flawed individuals, and so we inevitably fail to live up to "American exceptionalism" or "being a good Christian." And I think it's completely OK to be critical of those failings, as long as we don't become so jaded that we succumb to the notion that those values and ideals matter less than our tribal loyalty.
Jonah Goldberg wrote a follow-up to his original article, where he rebuts some of the criticism that he received from one of his colleagues:
When Rich says, “Jonah seems to imply that other countries can’t have true patriotism because they don’t have the Declaration and our founding ideals . . . ” you should translate that as, “Rich seems to be inferring.” I have no problem conceding that patriotism exists in other countries. Americans didn’t invent the word, after all.
Let’s stipulate that patriotism means “love of country.” People all over the world love their countries. Even people who live under oppressive dictators and hate their governments will say that they love their country. Indeed, many of the greatest patriots swim against the nationalist tides in their homelands.
Let me try it a different way. I have always believed that American conservatism is inseparable from American patriotism. I said “inseparable from” not “identical to.”
Since everyone’s quoting Samuel Huntington these days, I’ll do it too. Huntington observed that conservatism is a “positional ideology.” By that he meant that there are many conservatisms because conservatives in different societies seek to conserve different things. A conservative in France in, say, 1788 seeks to conserve that rich bouillabaisse of altar and throne. A conservative in England seeks to conserve the monarchy, among other things.
...This is why I share Yuval Levin’s contention that, at its core, conservatism is gratitude.
"To my mind, conservatism is gratitude. Conservatives tend to begin from gratitude for what is good and what works in our society and then strive to build on it, while liberals tend to begin from outrage at what is bad and broken and seek to uproot it." --Yuval Levin
A patriot in England, never mind Russia or Botswana, loves different things than a patriot in the United States. It’s something of a paradox: All patriotisms are equal in that they are all subjective, but not all patriotisms are equal when measured against certain ideals.
And that makes all the difference in the world. Lowry asserts that I think other countries can’t have patriotism because they don’t love the Founding and our principles of liberty. Not at all; rather, I think American patriotism is different because America — the object of our love — is different. As Hayek noted, America is the one place where you can be a lover of liberty and a conservative because in America conservatives seek to defend the liberal principles of the Founding.
In America there is nationalist sentiment, to be sure, but the “doctrines” of nationalism find no easy purchase here. Werner Sombart’s famous question, “Why is there no socialism in America?” has elicited many answers, but the most agreed-upon one is that America has no feudal past. America represented a sharp break with the ancient notion that polities — nations, empires, city-states, tribes, etc. — were no different than families with an unimpeachable pater familias at the helm. We celebrated and enshrined very different notions in our national DNA, which is why Alexis de Tocqueville could observe that the American was the Englishman left alone. What makes America exceptional, what makes American patriotism and conservatism different, is that the object of our love and gratitude is different. If Rich wants to define nationalism as love of country and nothing more, that’s his right. But he would be wrong.He also refers to American exceptionalism in another article, criticizing Trump's recent comments about the US being no different than Russia:
So when Rich tries to insinuate that I don’t think William of Orange was a patriot, he’s wrong. But his patriotism was fundamentally, philosophically, and morally different than American patriotism. And, by the way, it most certainly was tribal, if one is allowed some leeway when using the term.
It’s the president’s job to help shape public rhetoric, because how we talk about our ideals determines whether we sustain or erode them. Or, as the late literary critic Wayne Booth put it, rhetoric is “the art of probing what men believe they ought to believe.” To listen to Trump, Americans should believe a number of dismaying things: our public institutions cannot be trusted; he alone can fix our problems; absent him, our best days are behind us; and, most worrisome, America’s ideals have been part of the problem, not the solution.John McCain also rebuked Trump (indirectly) in his speech to the Munich Security Conference:
I don’t care if Trump thinks we’ve fallen short of ideals – of course we have, that’s why we call them ideals. What bothers me is that he often sounds like he has contempt for those ideals in the first place.
Make no mistake, my friends: These are dangerous times, but you should not count America out, and we should not count each other out. We must be prudent, but we cannot wring our hands and wallow in self-doubt. We must appreciate the limits of our power, but we cannot allow ourselves to question the rightness and goodness of the West. We must understand and learn from our mistakes, but we cannot be paralyzed by fear. We cannot give up on ourselves and on each other. That is the definition of decadence. And that is how world orders really do decline and fall.
This is exactly what our adversaries want. This is their goal. They have no meaningful allies, so they seek to sow dissent among us and divide us from each other. They know that their power and influence are inferior to ours, so they seek to subvert us, and erode our resolve to resist, and terrorize us into passivity. They know they have little to offer the world beyond selfishness and fear, so they seek to undermine our confidence in ourselves and our belief in our own values.
We must take our own side in this fight. We must be vigilant. We must persevere. And through it all, we must never, never cease to believe in the moral superiority of our own values—that we stand for truth against falsehood, freedom against tyranny, right against injustice, hope against despair … and that even though we will inevitably take losses and suffer setbacks, through it all, so long as people of goodwill and courage refuse to lose faith in the West, it will endure.