Tag: nationalism

What is patriotism?

To me, it seems like the Democratic Party has completely lost its way in regards to patriotism. You almost never hear Hillary Clinton talk about patriotism in any way (and Hillary is an ardent internationalist), and, although Bernie Sanders is a left-wing nationalist (or the closest person to a left-wing nationalist in American politics), you don’t hear too much of any patriotic rhetoric from Bernie. Meanwhile, the Republican Party has been pushing a brand of phony patriotism that involves thumping the Bible at every opportunity and stirring up hatred and resentment to anyone who isn’t a white, male, heterosexual, Anglo-Saxon, evangelical Southern Baptist for decades.

I think that it’s time to ask ourselves: what is patriotism?

My own vision of patriotism is derived from two pieces of inspiration. The first is from the late former Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson, who was twice the Democratic Party’s nominee for President, but lost both times to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, from his 1952 speech to the American Legion convention in New York City:

We talk a great deal about patriotism. What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility which will enable America to remain master of her power — to walk with it in serenity and wisdom, with self-respect and the respect of all mankind; a patriotism that puts country ahead of self; a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. The dedication of a lifetime — these are words that are easy to utter, but this is a mighty assignment. For it is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.

The second is a country music song called “America First”, performed by Merle Haggard:

Now, I’ll talk about what is not patriotism. Patriotism is not shoving your religious beliefs (or lack thereof) down everyone else’s throats. Patriotism is not sending American troops off to war for the mere sake of sending troops off to war. Patriotism is not making America more a part of an international community that threatens America’s economy on a daily basis. Patriotism is not making America the police force for the entire world. Patriotism is not putting the national security of foreign countries before the national security of America. Patriotism is not infringing on the rights of the American people in the name of a religious deity and/or America.

Most importantly, I’ll talk about what is patriotism. Patriotism is fighting to make America, not foreign countries, a better place to live for everyone. Patriotism is fighting to ensure justice and fair treatment for all Americans. Patriotism is protecting and expanding the most important of all rights, voting rights. Patriotism is understanding that civic duty is a lifelong responsibility. Left-wing nationalism is true patriotism.

Advertisements

Explaining why Scott Walker is a fascist

By my definition of a “fascist”, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker is a fascist. That’s because Scott Walker meets every single one of the 14 points of fascism, as compiled by political scientist Dr. Laurence Britt in 2004:

  1. Powerful and Continuing Expressions of Nationalism – In his presidential announcement speech (transcript here), Walker repeatedly talked about his patriotic love for America and used it to advocate for a far-right political agenda. While being patriotic in and of itself isn’t fascism, constant displays of nationalism, combined with all 13 of the other points of fascism that I’ll list below, is fascism.
  2. Disdain for the Importance of Human Rights – As Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker has repeatedly disregarded the human rights of the people of Wisconsin, including stripping rights from workers, women, political dissidents, and voters. Since this point largely goes hand in hand with several of the other points of fascism, I’ll explain this in more detail in points 5, 8, 10, 12, and 14.
  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – Walker and his political allies have repeatedly used progressives and others who have protested Walker’s policies in a non-violent manner as a scapegoat to justify their far-right agenda and (falsely) portray Walker as a strong leader. In fact, Walker himself has openly compared non-violent protesters who have criticized his political agenda to the Islamic fundamentalist terror group Islamic State (IS, commonly called ISIS).
  4. The Supremacy of the Military/Avid Militarism – During his presidential campaign announcement, Walker repeatedly used veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces to defend his far-right agenda. While Walker and his political allies were enacting legislation stripping collective bargaining rights from public employees in Wisconsin, Walker publicly threatened to use the Wisconsin National Guard, a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces, against state legislators that opposed Walker’s legislation.
  5. Rampant Sexism – As Governor of Wisconsin, Walker and his allies enacted numerous laws that specifically targeted women, including a law prohibiting women who have been illegally paid less than their male counterparts by their employers from suing in the state court system, as well as numerous laws that determine what kind of reproductive health care women can and can’t receive.
  6. A Controlled Mass Media – While there isn’t formal state control of the mass media in Wisconsin, the corporate-controlled mass media in Wisconsin covers political news in an manner that is very biased in favor of Walker and regularly smears political opponents of Walker.
  7. Obsession With National Security – Since he started being taken seriously as a prospective presidential candidate, Walker has displayed an obsession with national security, including, as I described above, comparing non-violent protesters to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.
  8. Religion and Ruling Elite Tied Together – Throughout his political career, Walker has repeatedly shown complete disregard towards the separation of church and state that is supposed to be mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and Walker often deploys a religious tone on the campaign trail. Walker has repeatedly claimed that God is guiding him through his political career, and he and his allies have expanded school voucher programs designed to give taxpayer money to religious schools as Governor of Wisconsin.
  9. Power of Corporations Protected – During his time as Governor of Wisconsin, corporate interests have had virtually complete control of Wisconsin’s state government, including writing state laws through a far-right political organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
  10. Power of Labor Suppressed or Eliminated – I mentioned this in point 4, but Walker has suppressed the power of workers as Governor of Wisconsin, including stripping collective bargaining rights from public employees and allowing non-union workers at unionized places to effectively steal wages and benefits negotiated by a labor union without paying for them in the form of union dues or some other type of payment to the union.
  11. Disdain and Suppression of Intellectuals and the Arts – Walker and his political allies have repeatedly shown a deep-seeded hatred of intellectuals and the arts, most notably stripping University of Wisconsin System (UW System) professors of tenure protections and cutting hundreds of millions of dollars of funding from UW System institutions of higher education.
  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – As Governor of Wisconsin, Walker’s Wisconsin Capitol Police have illegally and repeatedly arrested non-violent protesters for singing in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol, which is legally a public forum. Additionally, Walker has refused to even consider issuing pardons to convicted criminals.
  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – As Milwaukee County Executive and Governor of Wisconsin, corruption and cronyism have been and are absolutely rampant on Walker’s watch. Political allies of Walker have frequently been appointed to various government posts on the basis of being political allies of Walker, and, as Milwaukee County Executive, five of Walker’s allies were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, crimes involving stealing taxpayer money intended for providing for veterans and their families, campaigning on government time, and illegally funneling campaign donations to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign.
  14. Fraudulent Elections – As Governor of Wisconsin, Walker has enacted voter ID laws designed to keep political opponents of him from voting. Additionally, Walker and his political allies gerrymandered Wisconsin’s congressional and state legislative districts in a manner that his political allies get a considerably higher percentage of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature than his party’s percentage of the statewide vote.

To fully clarify, in order for one to meet my definition of a “fascist”, one must meet all 14 points of fascism that I displayed above. As I explained point-by-point, Scott Walker fully meets my criteria of a fascist.

Penn State Professor Sophia McClennen delivers brilliant response to Rush Limbaugh smear attack

Sophia McClennen, a professor at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), wrote this piece for Salon magazine, in which Professor McClennen talked about how Steven Colbert’s style of comedy during his tenure as host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report brilliantly mocked conservatives who (figuratively) wrap themselves in the American flag by constantly talking about their patriotism.

Obviously, Rush Limbaugh, a right-wing misogynistic talk radio shock jock who is best-known for his infamous remarks in which he called attorney and women’s rights advocate Sandra Fluke a “slut” on his nationally-syndicated radio program The Rush Limbaugh Show, was not happy after reading Professor McClennen’s column, so he called her a “professorette” on his radio program and whined about how he couldn’t “escape these professors and these lies and all this crap that’s in the media about everything that’s so-called wrong with America”.

Professor McClennen wrote a pair of responses to Limbaugh’s sexist smear attack against her at Salon magazine and at the progressive website DailyKos. In her DailyKos diary, Professor McClennen called out Limbaugh for claiming to love America but hate a majority of American citizens:

This leads to another persistent flaw in Limbaugh logic: How can you claim to love your country, yet hate so many of its citizens? It turns out that people of color, women and folks who vote with the “Democrat Party” are all part of the very same nation that Limbaugh professes to love. And yet, he seems to have a never-ending ability to spit bile at his fellow citizens, constantly hurling invectives at those with whom he disagrees. Professorette? (His term for me.) Infobabe? Feminazi? And we can’t forget Limbaugh’s treatment of Sandra Fluke. […]

I want to make three points about this.

First, Professor McClennen’s piece about Colbert’s character on The Colbert Report is certainly not a pack of lies and crap about everything that’s wrong with America. It’s a factual and very informative piece about how Colbert parodied right-wing talking heads like Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and others in the corporate media in order to gain a large following among the left in this country and how Colbert fought to redefine what patriotism means in this country.

Second, for Limbaugh to publicly call Professor McClennen a “professorette” is flagrantly sexist. “Professor” is a gender-neutral term, and for Limbaugh to use the term “professorette” to describe a female college professor implies that female college professors are somehow inferior to male college professors, which, at least in my experience, is certainly not the case. I attended a small junior college in the east central part of Illinois on a part-time basis for a few years before dropping out, and, even though my college experience was horrible (mostly because I wasn’t interested in attending college at all), every professor who taught one or more courses I took, regardless of whether it was taught by a man or a woman, taught their courses exceptionally well.

Third, as someone who is a left-wing nationalist and damn proud of both America and my progressive political views, I believe in a different kind of patriotism than right-wing talking heads like Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, and so on do. Right-wingers in this country believe in the “wrap-self-in-the-flag” kind of patriotism, in which they talk about how great America is while they support policies that are turning America into a third-world country, such as free trade agreements like NAFTA, deregulation of the banking industry, and cuts in government spending on things like education and social safety net programs. On the other hand, I believe in a kind of patriotism simply known as making America exceptional. I believe in raising taxes on the wealthy, protecting and expanding the social safety net, providing affordable health care to the American people, providing a better public education system for future generations, repealing free trade agreements, protecting the American economy, protecting and enacting regulations to protect workers, consumers, and the environment, raising the minimum wage, granting equal rights to all Americans, ensuring that all American citizens who are of age are able to vote in free and fair elections, and protecting the civil liberties of the American people, among other things. I don’t believe in all of that because I hate America, I believe in that because I love America and want to make this country an exceptional place to live!