“Un-Patriotic” vs. “Anti-Patriotic”

I don’t seem to have made enough people mad enough with yesterday’s post about the 22% of America (according to a FoxNews poll last week) who personally hope that the new plan in Iraq fails. Here’s some more, based in part on the comments section of that post.

First, here’s the poll question in, um, question:

You can click to enlarge it, and the entire poll is here (.pdf). The question is “Do you personally want the Iraq plan that President Bush announced last week to succeed?

63% answered “Yes”, 22% answered “No”, and 15% answered “Don’t Know”.

A reader commented:

What about the 15% that “don’t know?” I think you have 37% that would be definitively UNPATRIOTIC, for he exact reasons you lay out.

I will agree with the 37% number to an extent, but here we wade into dictionary territory. Not to define “patriotism”, which I believe to be sort of like trying to define “love”, but to define degrees of patriotism.

I suspect that at least some of those 22% are, actually, quite patriotic.

Just patriotic to some other nation or ideal besides the United States of America.

I would say that, if we’re playing these dictionary games, those undecided 15% are “un-patriotic” in the sense of “not actively patriotic”. That would make the 22%, I guess, “anti-patriotic”, as in “actively interested in the opposite of patriotism”.

All “patriotism”, of course, is from the United States’ perspective. I apologize to MO’s international readers, but Murdoc is American, the overwhelming majority of his readers are American, and he’s not going to write “American patriotism” or “unpatriotic American” every time.

Along those lines, I suspect that at least some of those 22% are, actually, quite patriotic. Just patriotic to some other nation or ideal besides the United States of America.

So, yes, 37% of poll respondents are not patriotic.

Another possibility would be that some of the 15% were totally unaware of any new plan and just said “don’t know” because they didn’t know anything about it. I’ve been polled over the phone like this before, and it’s sometimes tough to know what to answer when you’re not familiar with the subject. Still, I must repeat that it shouldn’t matter what the plan is or how much you know or don’t know about it. Wouldn’t “patriots” want it to succeed no matter what?

I guess I will say at this point that I don’t feel the same about “un-patriotics” (as vaguely defined here) as I do about “anti-patriotics”. “Anti-patriotics” are at least tantamount to being the enemy of America and in some cases the active enemy of America. My enemy. Not someone with a different opinion than I have. My enemy.

Some might have answered “No” if they had been personally courageous enough to tell a pollster that they hoped America’s new plan would fail.

Those “anti-patriotics” who are active enemies of America and do something about it are traitors. Often not in the legal sense, but traitors nonetheless.

The “un-patriotics”, on the other hand, aren’t really my enemy. They’re sort of like France. Not a friend, but we’re not going to start bombing any time soon. We can be useful to each other at times, and we often have similar interests. Even though our basic beliefs are different, much of what we want is, in the end, very similar. No reason to fight as long they remain non-enemy. (Stupid, though…)

The large percentage of undecideds is part of what made me decide that the 22% number is genuine. Some of the “undecideds” probably were confused or something, and some might have answered “No” if they had been personally courageous enough to tell a pollster that they hoped America’s new plan would fail.

It also occurred to me that saying you “don’t hope it succeeds” is not necessarily the same as you “do hope it fails“. I guess I’m pretty skeptical that more than a small few who answered “No” could have been thinking that when they did so, though.

Another commenter writes:

Deport the bastards.

Now, Murdoc will admit that he would get a great deal of satisfaction out of such a policy. But not enough to offset the feeling that it was wrong and against the values that I hold dear. Even for the “anti-patriots”.

In many ways, it’s like Murdoc feels about flag burners. I certainly have no respect for flag burners. But I also don’t think their act is one that should be illegal. I think it’s terribly sad and stupid, and it always makes me feel badly for the poor misguided folks who think they’re doing a great thing by burning a flag, but I’m basically for letting folks do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t harm other folks.

On the other hand, if the “anti-patriots” (or flag burners, for that matter) crossed the line into actively harming the United States, I still would not favor deportation. Murdoc’s policy would be “Hang the bastards.”

In any event, as long as they don’t cross that line I will agree with the commenter who said:

Incentives to emigrate? Absolutely!!!

That’s part of what I don’t get about those folks (mostly on the Left) who want so bad for America to be like Old Europe. Why make the effort? Why not just move to Old Europe? Many people gave up a lot for a chance to make it in America expressly because it was different than Europe, and I believe that many of them were from the “prime” cut of the European population. Now that generations of time have given us so many “less than primes”, we should be helping them relocate back to their “soul homes”. But that’s another post.

Yet another commenter wrote:

Yes, it would make sense to want to succeed in Iraq, that we could convince the Iraqis to stop killing each other and our troops, that their government could learn to be less corrupt and more efficient. But it would make even more sense to support a plan THAT WOULD WORK. It may be patriotic to support the president’s plan, but it’s beyond foolish to not criticize his lack of success (and future failure).

Yesbut sighting. Why do folks get so uppity when they get called “unpatriotic”? I mean, most of the time it’s people who are clearly acting unpatriotic. Why so many word games? Why so many attempts to shift the topic? Why not actually discuss the point?

As I pointed out in the original post, it doesn’t matter what the plan is. Patriotic Americans should personally hope it succeeds.

It doesn’t matter if supporting a better plan would make more sense. Patriotic Americans should personally hope it succeeds.

Personally hoping the plan succeeds does not preclude discussion of other plans.

It doesn’t matter if previous plans, supported or not, succeeded or not. Patriotic Americans should personally hope it succeeds.

Note that personally hoping the plan succeeds does not preclude discussion of other plans. It does not preclude criticism of the plan or of previous successes and failures. It is independent of those things, and that is exactly what I said.

Dean Esmay writes on his site:

And by the way, don’t question their patriotism. After all, all they’re doing is “criticizing.”

Mind you, criticizing THEM for acting unpatriotic is wrong. That would be stifling their dissent.

So let’s get it clear:

They have a right to criticize. You don’t have a right to criticize them.

See how easy it is?

He’s mocking someone, but I’m not quite sure who. It might be everyone.


  1. I apologize to MO’s international readers, but Murdoc is American, the overwhelming majority of his readers are American, and he’s not going to write ‘American patriotism’ or ‘unpatriotic American’ every time.

    I consider it morally repugnant to hope that violence in Iraq lasts any longer than it has to. So don’t worry, you don’t have to be American to find something wrong with such a point of view. Besides which, in my case at least, we’re in with you too.. so I would consider it un-patriotic also.

    Wouldn’t ‘patriots’ want it to succeed no matter what?

    Yes, unless the plan was something that would actually harm your country. I don’t see how you can believe it is, in this case. It’s a positive plan that’s at least trying to make a bad situation better, whether or not you like how the situation came to be that way in the first place.

    On the other hand, if the ‘anti-patriots’ (or flag burners, for that matter) crossed the line into actively harming the United States, I still would not favor deportation. Murdoc’s policy would be ‘Hang the bastards.’

    I’m not convinced there would be any real sanctions for such people. I hope I’m wrong. I hope even more than such people don’t exist, though… This may not be the best plan, but if anyone has a better one that could realistically be implemented, they’re keeping their mouth shut. Well, not entirely true, some people have said the ROE should be opened even more etc. but perhaps that’s not realistic. Anyway it’s worth trying to do something to improve the situation eh? I don’t think it’s as bad as many people make out but it could be getting better faster. Anyone who hopes it doesn’t is an idiot.

  2. There has been an idea kicking around in my head for a while now, and perhaps this is a good time to throw it out there. It seems to me we need to have a soldier’s bill of rights. Everyone in this country seems to assume they themselves are the victims – of the police, of the military, of teachers, of their parents, of the president, of space aliens. You name the authority figure, they are the victims of it, but it occurs to me the real victims are becoming the very people we hire to keep us safe. A few years back I was on a jury for a trial where some piece of garbage was suing a cop for beating him. After finding for the defendant I told the officer’s lawyer I wished the cop had beat the bastard, he might have knocked some sense into him. How can we continue to do this? How can we continue to not support those who would keep us safe and expect that these people will continue to step forward on our behalf? We do not support our trooops in Iraq. Neither Democrats nor Republicans support them. If we did, we would be fighting an entirely different war there. It would be much bloodier. Cities would be destroyed. There would be no such thing as ‘non-combatant casualties’. Our soldiers would not be under the constant threat of court marshal every time some Iraqi scum bag files a report. We fight like losers. Losers lose. Our troops have the right to the support of the American people. All of the American people. They have the right to do whatever it takes to win. That is what it means to support the troops. If you do not support the troops, you have no right to send them to war. If you do send them to war and do not support them with whatever it takes to win, you should go to jail. We have treason laws because people used to realize that our soldiers have a right to expect the support of those they are fighting for. Our society recognized that it was in their best interest to provide this support if they wanted anyone to fight on their behalf for their interests. Today we seem to think of our ‘civil rights’ as some sort of inane suicide pact. Rights are only for those who do not contribute or participate in the building of society. What about the rights of those who do?

  3. I think I drew some ire last time for saying deport them. However, I stick with that because, anyone who would admit they want us to fail, is I believe already actively working to undermine this country in many other ways. Some choose to not cut out this cancer but to try some touchy feely way to cure it. I prefer surgery.

  4. jim: While I think we’re on the same ‘side’ of this issue, I still have to disagree with your deportation stance. We can’t (read: shouldn’t) deport folks because we ‘believe’ (your word) they are actively trying to undermine this country in other ways. Burning a flag and shouting support for OBL qualifies as actively trying to undermine the nation, however we (as a people) have decided that these actions fall in the ‘free speech’ bucket, not the ‘treason’ bucket. Like neo-nazis, they disgust me, but I believe in their right to do so on our soil. I don’t believe we should deport anyone. We either tolerate it, or charge them with actual treason. Pick one. If they haven’t done something that stands up in a court, they’re still in the ‘free speech’ bucket. Bastards still, to be sure. As I said in another post, though, incentive to emmigrate sounds like an idea. For example, let’s help all those folks that wanted to move to Canada when Bush won do so. I think a modest incentive would be a good use of taxpayer dollars, though the payout comes with a lifetime ban on residency and citizenship. The more I type, the more I like the idea…

  5. So the traitors have rights, but our soldiers don’t. That’s the very inequity I’m talking about. Our soldiers have rights too. They have the right to expect the country to support them. I say line the treasonous bastards up in front of a firing squad. We’ve got no shortage of bullets or landfills. Either do that, or don’t put our boys in harms way. You can have one or the other, not both.

  6. Dfens: You’re saying that unless there are laws that make holding these opinions a treasonous act, the US can’t take any action that puts any military folk in harm’s way? And that somehow is for the good of the country? ‘They have the right to expect the country to support them.’ Yep, they have a right to expect it. However, only in brutal dictatorships does a government entity or soldier actually have a right to the ACTUAL support of 100% of the population. In free societies, their right stops at ‘expecting’ support. Anything that coerces support through threat of execution is exactly what we’re trying to stamp out. Our country has *NEVER* (essentially) defined holding opinions as a treasonous act, and yet we’ve gone to war many times. We both know that this country never will (I don’t care if you think it ‘should’) make these opinions punishable by execution, or anything else. It sounds like you’re saying we just need to pull back and let the world go as it will, and somehow, magically, none of it will result in the loss of American lives (othe the whole country) in the end?

  7. Free societies don’t stay free if they don’t support their troops during time of war. You tell me one war that we ever won when we had people actively and openly protesting that war? Tell me one war that any country has won that way? Rights are not a one way street. You have rights. Our soldiers have rights. Two way street. Not one way, two ways.

  8. I would argue that any society that coerces support (as in, opinion) via threat of execution is not a free society. You can not have a society with non-coerced 100% support for the armed forces because, well, human beings just aren’t that decent. You can have 100% support OR a free society. You pick which one you’d prefer, because you can’t have both. (And no one ever said soldiers don’t have rights. Straw man.)

  9. I should add a nice summarizing point. These people are like flag burners, even during time of war. Their position disgusts me, but I would not want to live in any country that imprisoned or shot its citizens for burning flags.

  10. Ironically, it’s not your choice to make. The society that does not imprison people who burn flags and shouts ‘baby killers’ at their troops returning home from war will not continue. You think you can have it all, and that’s the American way, isn’t it? We can have it all. Freedom without responsibility, that’s our motto. The fact is you can’t. You cannot ask someone to die for a flag you won’t put some sleaze in jail for burning. That’s just the way it is. Your third choice is an illusion. It does not exist. During Vietnam we did not have to ask people to leave the country to avoid fighting that losing effort. They volunteered to leave. Look at what’s happening to support for the War in Iraq among the troops right now. You can’t have it both ways. Soldiers have rights too. They are people too. They do not owe you their lives. You cannot pay them enough to make them owe you their life. You either support them in a way that allows them to win, or they’ll stop fighting. You won’t be able to coerce them with a draft. During the Vietnam war, we were remarkably close to having a second civil war. Soldiers have rights. They have a right to your support. If you are not going to support them – and by you I mean each and every American without exception – then you have no right to send them to die for you. They owe you nothing.

  11. Then the human race is doomed. No nation (free or otherwise) will ever ever ever ever ever ever have complete support for their troops. No amount of gunfire or jails will change that fact. Neither you, nor I, not any amount of coercion will EVER change that. Ever. The world you wish for is not only unattainable, but it’s NOT EVEN CLOSE to any possible reality in our lifetimes. You cannot be so naive as to not see this. You are arguing against ‘me’, as though I am the problem. It’s as though you didn’t like gravity, and because I didn’t allow you to live in ignorance of it, you feel I’m an appropriate messenger to shhot, or otherwise imprison. Non-complete support of the troops is as inevitable as gravity. And again, *STOP* with the straw man. It’s *REALLY* childish, and makes this a less desirable forum in which to discuss anything.

  12. I am not arguing with you at all. I’m telling you. You can listen or not. You can understand or not. It is your choice. Some things we get to choose, some we do not.

  13. OK, help me understand. ‘If you are not going to support them – and by you I mean each and every American without exception – then you have no right to send them to die for you.’ I assume you and I both agree that as long as we maintain freedom of belief, what you wish for will never come to pass. I make the assumption because there is no other reasonable alternative. Since we will always have folks that don’t support the troops (no, you can’t get rid of the scum by guns or jails), where does that leave us? Attempts to coerce the ‘belief’ by force would only decrease the amount of support, so I’m not sure where else you wish to work at altering reality.

  14. What I’m saying is if you are a nation divided on a war, don’t send the troops. They deserve better support than that. They are not politicians and they are paying for our politics with their lives. I’m sure you and I agree that is not acceptable. I am completely against the way we sent troops to Iraq. There should have been a formal declaration of war. There should have been an overwhelming majority in Congress voting for that declaration or we should not have sent the troops. Now given that kind of consensus, as opposed to what we have now, I see no reason to tolerate subversive activities of any kind. To me that would include public protesting of the war. I don’t mind of someone has something negative to say in private, but public statements regarding how someone ‘hopes our troops lose’ are not acceptable when our soldier’s lives are on the line. We are fighting in Iraq like the Cold War was still on. We are fighting a limited police action like we are worried we will start a nuclear war with the decades dead Soviet Union. Success is killing us because we can’t get beyond the Cold War mind set.

  15. Well, ‘if you are a nation divided on a war, don’t send the troops‘, then that’s that. No more wars. Cool. Glad that’s solved. Now just get the memo out and we’ll all live happily ever after. There will always be extremists on all sides. Unless they materially affect things, there’s not much that we can (or should) do about them other than point them out, ridicule them, argue against their lies (if they are, in fact, lying), etc., etc. Honestly, I’m a bit amazed that trying to make someone think something would be allowed in a free society, let alone required for its survival. That makes no sense. Sure, I’d like to make these idiots think the way that I think, or at least make them hope the plan succeeds. And I think I’ve been fairly clear about where I think these folks stand. But there’s no law against stupid, and there’s no law against being on the other side. Though they should be discouraged from being stupid, for everyone’s good, they are free. That’s the point of freedom. Just as you’re free to claim that there’s no choice whatsoever, I’m free to claim you’re wrong. Because I think that you are.

  16. Look, the 1st Ammendment is not a suicide pact. The 1st Ammendment did not replace the treason clause in the US Constitution. It is in the Constitution. Not an ammendment that came later. People who commit acts of treason either go to jail or are shot. They have no right, not by the 1st or any other ammendment or any other clause of the US Constitution to protest a war. And if we aren’t going to uphold the Costitution, we have no right to demand that someone else put their life on the line to support it. We are unworthy to ask our young men to die for us.