Edition: 042217a – Words: 1232 – Audio: 11:00
Who The Heck Is This Adlai Stevenson? –
In case you are young (or grossly ill-informed) and have no idea who that person is who made that quote, it was Adlai Stevenson II , former governor of Illinois, one-time presidential candidate, and former Ambassador to the UN under Kennedy (the position currently being held by Nikki Haley), during the Cuban Missile Crisis… and a democrat. While he had a long and very influential career in politics and government service his most prominent role and the one most remembered (if anyone remembers his name at all) was his verbal attack on the floor of the UN where he showed the Soviet ambassador and the world, photos that missiles were indeed in Cuba. The exchange is considered one of the most profound and accusatory ever delivered on the floor to that time. It has been depicted in two movies that I am aware of, in one form or another. Here’s what happened according to Wiki…
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, Stevenson gave a presentation at an emergency session of the Security Council. In his presentation, which attracted national television coverage, he forcefully asked Soviet UN representative Valerian Zorin if his country was installing nuclear missiles in Cuba, and when Zorin appeared reluctant to reply, Stevenson punctuated with the demand “Don’t wait for the translation, answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’!” When Zorin replied that “I am not in an American court of law, and therefore do not answer a question put to me in the manner of a prosecuting counsel…you will have your answer in due course”, Stevenson retorted, “I am prepared to wait for my answer until Hell freezes over.” Stevenson then showed photographs taken by a U-2 spy plane which proved the existence of nuclear missiles in Cuba, just after Zorin had implied they did not exist.
(the five minute YouTube exchange can be viewed HERE.)
So What’s The Point Of This History Lesson? –
To assign some credible thought to his quote regarding the display of patriotism. It is perfect for summing up the current mood that tries to assign patriotism as a convenience for emotional political opinion so often by the conservative right, as if they alone were some guardians of the American flag and the Constitution.
By comparison to the issues of the day and the occupant of the White House being controversial and complex in nature, the actual meaning of the word patriotism is quite easy and simple… look in any dictionary,
Patriotism = love or devotion to one’s country.
That’s it. It’s easy. No complex ideology suggested, no abstract philosophical concept intimated. There’s no reference to any flag or form of government.
So can someone please clue me in as to why the alt-Right, far-Right, extreme Right, conservative Right… all feel compelled to justify their political opinions by (sometimes very literally) waving the patriotism flag? Simply put, why do those people who claim to love America and claim to be patriotic defenders of the Constitution, hate other Americans so much?
When I first decided to split off my political and character objections regarding Trump as president from my old blog site, I debated whether or not I wanted to include in the site design the common flag waving image one might find on so many conservative blogs. When “they” use the pic it tends to symbolize their “patriotic” perception of their mindless opinion and conspiracy theories feeding a clear and present danger regarding other Americans as being a threat to the Constitution. In the end I decided to include it because it’s my own “subtle” statement that one doesn’t need to be some fear-mongering blogster nutcase to display the flag, and illustrate that I, too, can be just as patriotic when I say the President is incompetent and should leave office. Waving the flag can be a display of patriotism but it doesn’t define it. Serving in the military can be a display of patriotism but it doesn’t define it.
The Far Right Think THEY Are The Guardians Of Democracy –
I am very willing to concede that every citizen in the United States is just as patriotic as I am, no more, no less. Just like every Canadian is patriotic toward his/her country, the Spanish are just as patriotic toward Spain, and I’ll bet there are some Syrians who are patriotic toward how their country might have used to be in a more peaceful past. Some may even be patriotic toward Assad. Patriotism is NOT only an American concept. Yet you’d think each far Right conservative was somehow identifying with the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord holding off the Redcoats as somehow being the epitome of patriotism. I’m sure the Redcoats facing them thought the Minutemen were stupid idiots, the soldiers themselves being patriotic toward Britain. Which leads me to suggest that patriotism is a relative concept depending on which side of the political fence a person is on.
But ok.. let’s indeed use a little history here… and sorry to any conservative readers here.. these are facts.. something you’re likely not used to considering. These days we consider patriotism as being our love for America and the freedoms as outlined in the Constitution. The Revolutionary War “patriots” didn’t have a Constitution. They didn’t even have the Articles of Confederation worked up yet. They certainly were not patriotic toward the colonies under English rule. In the end what fed their passion was a patriotism toward the concept of freedom from British rule. It wasn’t all about the Second Amendment, freedom of the press, yada, yada. It was about the idea of being independent from Britain. There was no idea at the time regarding a thing about how those folks were going to organize 13 separate colonies if they even managed to get independence. They were patriots toward a hope and a wild-eyed concept of self-rule. It’s far easier now to be patriotic because our fore-fathers did all the work. The colonists who fought and died, and the citizens who organized their concept of freedom and put it to paper, were fighting for a far more ambiguous patriotic reason than the Americans to follow. That’s true faith in a cause.
Here’s another concept for conservative consideration. Our Founding Fathers were the true elitists of their day. They held all the real wealth and political power… and educational advantage. The guys signing the Declaration were Philadelphia elitists, in the same category as Washington elitists of today. For some reason “elitist” is a negative term these days but back then the wealth these guys had also financed not only the battle for independence but also the nation as a new start-up. I hope you don’t think that these guys were all pure in thought and deed, and their entire motivation for independence was personal freedoms for all Americans (to be). They were all businessmen… and felt they could govern themselves better to encourage business growth… with subsequent economic growth for the country. They realized that economics made nations great… on a foundation of personal freedoms. Hope that didn’t burst any conservative bubbles.
More in Part Two.