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Current Battle: Election 2004






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Sunday, July 11, 2004

Battle Patriotism - Challenger - Closing Argument

My opponent has spent much energy telling you why she doesn't have to do anything with the definition of patriotism, why a few links to some dictionary sites should be just fine, and that's her case. I asked the Iron Blogger to stipulate to the point that I proved so clearly, and she offered possibly the reddest of herrings we've seen yet -- with references to racism, NAMBLA, and a man raping his wife. Rosemary said, "How do we measure the meaning of any word if not by definition? I think that some things are obvious."

If so, then why are we here? What have we been doing this week? The Chairman asked "What is patriotism?" By the Iron Blogger's rationale, the winner should be the first person providing the dictionary entry, right? Because there's nothing else to say? No, I believe that to hide behind the sentence "a love of one's country" without making an assertion as to what that actually means is slightly invertebrate and dismisses the whole purpose of The Iron Blog.

On my second point, by refusing to differentiate between Rebecca the Socialist Teenager and Valerie Plame, the Iron Blogger all but makes my point about the terms "treasonous" and "traitorous." The college kid was a tempest in a teapot. The longer we as a society allow it acceptable for partisan rhetoric to appropriate perfectly good words, by applying them to some comments disapproving of the war and supporting the Iraqis, equally as they are applied to "exposing clandestine [American] intelligence sources, [ergo] aiding and abetting terrorists" for political gain and to retaliate at those who would question our leaders, the words become worthless.

My opponent never addresses my third and fourth points -- that questioning our leaders is definitely patriotic (and the founding fathers would agree), and that what's not patriotic is the dog-and-pony show and outright oppression being perpetrated by the Bush administration when anyone even slightly disagrees with them. Those were the far more interesting parts of my position, and I'd hoped the Iron Blogger would choose to argue them ideologically, beyond merely disputing the semantics. (Well, to be fair, she does address my example, with Dick Cheney didn't do anything wrong, but look over here, Hillary Clinton was "practically accusing the President of murder.")

Still, as Rosemary shares regarding my second point, "The reason I didn't address it was that I [GASP] mostly agree with the assertion the challenger made."

There you go. If my opponent agrees with everything which she does not address, then it is apparent that she supports much of my salient position.

So, although there's not much for me to shore up here, I'll leave you with some references that might help solidify the points on which we spent less time, for You The Reader.

Paul Krugman's piece in an April 2003 New York Times:
It's not a slur on the courage of our troops, or a belittling of the risks they face, to say that our current war is a mere skirmish by comparison. Yet self-styled patriots are trying to impose constraints on political speech never contemplated during World War II, accusing anyone who criticizes the president of undermining the war effort.

...Anyway, what defines patriotism? Talk is cheap; so is putting a flag in your lapel. Citizens prove their patriotism when they make sacrifices for the sake of their country. [John] Kerry, a decorated veteran, has met that test. Most of his critics haven't.

I'm not just talking about military service — though it's striking how few of our biggest hawks have served. Nor am I talking only about financial sacrifice — though profiting from public office seems to be the norm, not the exception, among those who wrap themselves in the flag. (Mr. Racicot himself accepted the job as R.N.C. chairman only on the condition that he remain on the payroll of Bracewell and Patterson, a law firm that specializes in lobbying.)

The biggest test of a politician's patriotism is whether he is willing to sacrifice some of his political agenda for the sake of the nation. And that's a test our current leaders have failed with flying colors.


In a report by Spanish-language newspaper Libertad-Prensa, the author addressed the Bush administration's oppression of dissenters on September 6, 2001, with supporting quotes from the WaPo, NYT and Houston Chronicle.

From Peter Selby at Episcopal newsletter "The Witness":
It is not an easy time to risk being called "unpatriotic," and those who planned and executed the attacks on New York and Washington are as much responsible for the predictable deaths of Afghan people as they are directly for the deaths of those who died on September 11th.

Yet the risk has to be taken, and for the most patriotic of reasons. Love of country has to include a passionate concern for its values, its hopes and its reputation. No country can flourish if the voice of criticism is silenced in the name of patriotism.


Abraham Lincoln said, "I must stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong."

John Quincy Adams said, "And say not thou 'My country right or wrong'/Nor shed thy blood for an unhallowed cause."

Theodore Roosevelt said, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is unpatriotic not to tell the truth--whether about the President or anyone else."

And finally, from a sermon by the Reverend Paul Strudwick on September 23, 2001 at All Saints Church in Carmel, California:
We need to be vigilant in ensuring that our leaders - those whom we elect - show the same values through their lives and actions. And so we are called to pray for them to have guidance, strength, courage, and wisdom - and especially that cleverness, mentioned before, that we can so easily misdirect.
... Freedom comes with responsibility and it is only free so far as it does not degenerate into anarchy. What we have is freedom to follow the rules. Or to be active in changing them. But we have to be heard if we want change or we don't like what is going on. And not everyone likes what is going on at the moment - inside and outside the country.


Regardless of the decision of this Battle, I have enjoyed it immensely. It has been an honor to debate Rosemary Esmay. I appreciate those of you who have read along, and thank the Chairman for the opportunity to join the distinguished list of Iron Blog Challengers.

Yours truly,
PG

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