One of my favorite quotes, memorized years ago as a lowly plebe (like a freshman at a normal college, but with less respect) at the U.S. Naval Academy was from naval hero Stephen Decatur, a toast at a banquet celebrating his victory over the Barbary Pirates:
Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.
I took it to mean that we sincerely hope and pray that our country doesn’t dork up its international relations. But, mistaken or not, it is still our country. We shouldn’t disown it for temporary mistakes. (As in “If Bush wins, I’m moving to Canada!” Good. He won; please leave. Why were they all still here to vote Obama in if they cared that little for the country?)
Others have interpreted it as a blind allegiance to the government. Specifically, G.K. Chesterton retorted (probably responding to the resurrection and partial re-writing of Decatur’s line by a U.S. senator):
“My country, right or wrong” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying “My mother, drunk or sober.”
Yes, well, Americans have usually been aware that our country is not perfect (and neither are many of our mothers). There have been plenty of times when we would ruefully have to admit that we’re probably looking at a “desperate case”, but we remain attached to our flawed country and mothers and determined to help get them through their rough spots.
When we get to the point that China is telling us how to fix our economy and France is telling us we’re hurtling into socialism… well, that’s pretty desperate.
To top it all off, the online paper Pravda published the following, originally posted at the blog Mat Rodina. (Although Pravda was the official mouthpiece for the Soviet government, the online version is done by former employees, and is sort of a cross of celebrity tabloids, “men’s” magazines (“Russian fashion house only half dressing models” required a photo of the model with a bare breast), the National Enquirer (lots of space aliens), and some serious reporting. But, given that these people lived through Soviet communism, they just might know what they’re talking about when it comes to Marxism. (Highlighted on Glenn Beck’s show on Fox News on Monday.)
It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people. …
First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their “right” to choke down a McDonalds burger or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our “democracy”. Pride blind the foolish. …
The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America’s short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe. …
Then came Barack Obama’s command that GM’s (General Motor) president step down from leadership of his company. That is correct, dear reader, in the land of “pure” free markets, the American president now has the power, the self given power, to fire CEOs and we can assume other employees of private companies, at will. Come hither, go dither, the centurion commands his minions. …
Again, the American public has taken this with barely a whimper…but a “freeman” whimper. …
The Russian owners of American companies and industries should look thoughtfully at this and the option of closing their facilities down and fleeing the land of the Red as fast as possible. In other words, divest while there is still value left.
The proud American will go down into his slavery with out a fight, beating his chest and proclaiming to the world, how free he really is. The world will only snicker.
Granted, this smells of Russia on the downward slide hoping desperately that, at least, America will go down with it. Decades of communism, years of economic depression, religious institutions that have only somewhat recovered from communist oppression, rampant abortion, etc. have led to a crashing population. Russia doesn’t seem to have much hope of recovery itself, so it’s been threatening smaller neighbors and sniping at the U.S.
But there is some truth in the editorial.
Do you think most Americans know more about “American Idol” or the U.S. government?
Do you think most Americans would rather have their freedoms or just feel comfortable?
Comfortable does not create progress.
Comfortable does not even maintain the status quo; it steadily nibbles it away, hoping “someone else” will take care of the difficult work.
I keep seeing this theme come up lately.
I opened the paper this morning, after drafting this last night, to find Kathleen Parker saying something similar: “Today, we apparently trade liberty for certainty and our once-swashbuckling spirit for contentment, preferably in pill form.”
Lindy turned up the following gem from the American Thinker: “A whole lot of people are seemingly content to kiss their individual freedoms goodbye in the name of ‘fairness,’ or whatever.”
And, from what I’ve read so far of deTocqueville (or at least the introduction… I got sucked into a different book temporarily), it seems that one of his themes was people’s bizarre eagerness to trade liberty for equality. Very few people seem to value liberty (or anything else) more than comfort, often built on “certainty” and “equality”.