"Come sundown, don't you be hanging 'round... 'cos the Cowboy blow you away!" --Tesla, from "Modern-Day Cowboy" (my favorite Tesla song, btw.)
Much like Castor and Pollux, Cain and Abel, or Tomaz and Zamot (from the GI Joe cartoon series, co-heads of the Cobra Crimson Guard, btw), Patrioitism and Jingoism are both related--yet both are radically different in purpose and ultimate goals.
Patriotism has, indeed, gotten smeared with the same foul brush as it's evil relation...Jingoism. Which is indeed sad, because it has gotten to the point where folks are having trouble telling one from the other...and that has serious consequences, indeed.
What is being presented today as "true patriotism" is actually jingoism combined with it's consort...chauvinism; wrapped in red-white-and-blue bunting; sprayed with a heavy dose of Channel No5; and sold to the gullible sheeple as "patriotic."
It didn't just start with last week's approval in Arizona of a law that turns their law-enforcent personnel into "Junior ICE Agents." It was around a lot longer than the GW Bush's administrations' gang butt-wipe on the US Constitution. It even predates Ronnie Raygun, "Tricky Dickie," and even Joe "Paranoia's Pappy" McCarthy and his blank "List of 200 Names."
No, the first attempt at blurring the line between patriotism and jingoism went back to the John Adams administration, which gave us the infamous "Alien And Sedition Acts." This was a blatant power-grab by Adams and his party, The Federalists. The act basicly provided not only for the deportation of non-US citizens, but also made criticizing the Federal Government a crime punishable by a stretch in the hoosegow (by labeling even mild criticism "sedition.").
Thomas Jefferson wisely rid the United States Code (our Federal Laws) of this royal stinker, but ever since then, Jingoism has often kicked Patrioitism from it's rightful perch and unleashed it's red-white-and-blue tinted evil upon our land. Instead of uniting our nation into "one people, one country," as Patriotism does, Jingoism uses it's power to demand "Who Is The True American?" And in the jingoist's eyes, if your version doesn't match with their's? You are not only condidered "Un-American," but are often called that--or worse--to your face...and that is on a good day!
One only need look at folks like Cindy Sheehan, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr; Rosa Parks; Jimmy Carter; Barry Goldwater (a bit on why I included him in this list later); Thomas Nast; and others who through their actions, expressed what True Patriotism is about. Be it about calling "Bravo-Sierra" about a trumped-up war and it's Jingo-Chauvinistic way it was being sold to the American People as "Patriotic To Support"; bringing down a truly evil and Un-American way of government on our own soil; using your post-Presidential years to help those less fortunate, be it here or abroad; or using your pen-and-ink drawings to send the most vile of corrupt politicians to a well-deserved prison sentence? That, my dears, is true Patriotism In Action.
I also included Barry Goldwater because, even though he was the original "caveman Conservative," he knew when somebody was taking a dump on the American Flag (or in this case, the Supreme Court) and trying to disguise such an act as "Good Americanism."
Back in 1982, Ronald Reagan nominated Arizona Appeals Court judge Sandra Day-O'Connor for a special honor--to become the first woman Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Well, everything was going smoothly until judge Day-O'Connor's views about abortion came out into the press.
Enter Jerry Falwell, the leader of the self-professed "Moral Majority," headquartered at Thomas Roads Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA (which he founded and served as head pastor (as well as founder and president of nearby Liberty University) until his death a few years ago). Now, Falwell's Flock wasn't too happy that Ronnie had nominated anyone with any sort of "pro-choice" views (and wasn't too cool about a woman being nominated in the first place to begin with).
So, Rev. Falwell decided to tell all the world that "Good Christians Should Not Support Judge Day-O'connor's supreme Court Nomination."
Enter "Mr. Conservative" himself--Barry Goldwater, still serving as a Senator from Arizona. The thunderhead broke at a Washington D.C.-area airport, where Goldwater had told an assembled crowd how proud he was to see somebody from his home state recieve such an high honor. Then somebody asked the question: "How do you feel about Reverend Falwell's call for 'Every Good Christian' to oppose Judge Day-O'connor's nomination?"
"I think every good Christian ought to kick Jerry Falwell's arse (word bowderized because of weblog policy)," snapped out Goldwater. Hours later, on the Senate floor, Senator Goldwater delievered a speech called "To Be A Conservative."
Obviously, he wasn't through with Falwell--or the New Right.
In that speech, he defended not only his brand of political conservatism and Judge Day-O'Connor. He also let it be known that any more shenannigans, be it by Falwell or any other member of the New Right, would not only earn them his undying emnity...it will also lose that group their 501c3 tax-exempt status under the IRS Code--for starters!
A cartoon appeared a few days later, with Falwell and his Moral Majority cronies playing the part of moneychangers in a certain temple..and Goldwater getting to play Jesus with the whip. The caption read "You guys don't scare me--I'M TAKING YOU ON!"
To me, that was a great act of patriotism...to stand up for your friend against a bunch of bullies. That it was someone that twenty years before extolled extremeism in the defense of liberty as a virtue (marking him as a heavyweght jingoist at the time) was not only deliciously ironic, but it also showed me that there was still hope for our country--even in the darkest days of Ronnie Raygun, Reaganomics, and the whole fetid hell that was the "Egotiistical Eighties."
Even though jingoism may have it's time in the sun, it cannot replace patriotism...folks will see right through jigoism's camoflauge for what it is, boo it off the stage, and allow real patriotism (love of country, sense of fair play for all, and knowing when to let your government know what it is doing isn't right) back to it's rightful place in the sun.
Will it ever stop? Perhaps not--though we had a few close calls. But as long as Old Glory waves from the flagpole, the Star Spangled Banner is sung before Padres and Chargers games, and new citizens take the Oath of Citizenship and join the rest of We Americans?
I still feel that our Ship of State is extremely seaworthy, and will continue it's voyages!