Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What is Patriotism?

This scene, from the pilot episode of The Newsroom, shows a fictional cable news anchor asked the "tough" question, "Why is America the greatest country in the world." His eventual answer when pressed is classic Aaron Sorkin, and wonderfully performed by Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy. The show itself has seen a barrage of criticism, but I have to say I'm liking it. It is heavy-handed at time, but as the dialog of the show points out, you have to speak truth to stupid sometimes.

And I for one do not find this speech in anyway un-patriotic. I think "American exceptionalism" is a perfectly laudable goal, but it is not a given. I think true patriots want to make America better, not proclaim it to be #1 in areas where it is empirically not. That doesn't mean that I don't have a swell of patriotism when July 4th rolls around, and it doesn't mean I don't love my country. It makes me a realist.

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