Howard Zinn on patriotism

April 16, 2007 | By | Reply More

Howard Zinn recently spoke on patriotism on DemocracyNow:

Patriotism to me means doing what you think you’re country should be doing. Patriotism means supporting your government when you think it’s doing right, opposing your government when you think it’s doing wrong. Patriotism to me means really what the Declaration of Independence suggests. And that is that government is an artificial entity.

Government is set up–and here’s what a Declaration of Independence is about, government is set up by the people in order to fulfill certain responsibilities: equality, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. And according to the Declaration of Independence when the government violates those responsibilities, then, and these are the words of the Declaration of Independence it is the right of the people to alter or abolish the government.

In other’s words the government is not holy, the government is not to be obeyed when the government is wrong. So to me patriotism in it’s best sense means thinking about the people in the country, the principals for which the country stands for, and it requires opposing the government when the government violates those principles.

So today, for instance, the highest act of patriotism I suggest, would be opposing the war in Iraq and calling for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Simply because everything about the war violates the fundamental principles of equality, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, not just for Americans, but for people in another part of the world. So, yes, patriotism today requires citizens to be active on many, many different fronts to oppose government policies on the war, government policies which have taken trillions of dollars from this country’s treasury and used it for war and militarism. That’s what patriotism would require today.

Noam Chomsky was also part of the discussion, which can be found in its entirety here.  The participants drew in-depth comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam.


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Category: American Culture, Civil Rights, Politics, The Middle East, War

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Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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