Amor patriae

I have a column in the current Free Inquiry and it’s one of the non-paywalled items this time.

It’s about Trump’s patriotism theater. It was fun to write.

Even if we can figure out exactly what we’re being ordered to love, it’s not actually the case that we’re legally obliged to do so. We’re not required to feel amorous toward “it” as a condition of being allowed to go on living here as citizens. We’re not made to undergo regular “love it” inspections to gauge whether our affection levels are above the red line. We don’t have to send monthly reports on our patriopassion on pain of expulsion. If we were born here, we get to live here, no questions asked. If we become citizens, same deal: we get to live here.

Granted there have been some feints toward the idea in the past. The House Un-American Activities Committee was a kind of “Do you really love us?” exercise, but even then, the outcome was not expulsion from the country. The Civil War was a serious attempt at divorce, and from that we got the anxieties about allegiance that led to the wretched custom of making children swear a solemn oath every school day as if we were hoping to create a robot army. But even then, allegiance is not the same as love.

It is true that adults who immigrate here do have to undergo a ceremony in which they renounce previous loyalty and shift it to this one. But that’s once; when it’s done it’s done. The government doesn’t phone the new citizens every day to ask, “Do you still love me? Do you really love me? What do you love about me most? Why were you making eyes at that other country yesterday?”

Dulce et decorum est, yeah?

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