Patriotism Defined

Patriotism includes the manufactured and sometimes imposed capacity to see similar sets of facts in dramatically different ways. Torture, rendition, imprisonment without trial, extrajudicial killings, assassinations, drone strikes and the bombing of civilians—all of this and more is condemned as evil or embraced as good by the governing class and nationalist/patriots depending on only one item: who does the deed.

“American Exceptionalism” is the magic potion patriots drink in order to justify these specific atrocities and other human rights violations when carried out by the US state: the American cause is always just, we are assured, the American heart always pure, and “our” side always righteous. Not only does the idea that the US is the “one indispensable nation” permit Americans to approve of bad behavior in our names, it mostly puts us to sleep, only dimly aware of happenings that are excruciatingly experienced and acutely perceived in other parts of the world.

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