Politically speaking, I do have qualms about excessive patriotism. Patriotism can lead to a kind of blindness, a lack of critical self-awareness, which is not a good thing. But patriotism also offers something important. It offers a sense of pride that isn’t directly attached to success. Again, blindness towards this detachment can be a problem, but the detachment is healthy nonetheless. By taking pride in our setting, we endeavour to live up to that pride. We are inspired to match the ideas we have in our minds.
Americans have been consistently accused of excessive patriotism, and one look at the rhetoric in the Rebuplican presidential race shows just how blind and idiotic that patriotism can be. I know something else about America, though. I know that through its history, America has been a fraught but remarkable country. Americans often refer to their democratic system as “The Great Experiment” and I it’s not hard to see why. It was an unprecedented idea and implementation, and it has essentially become the model for developed and developing countries around the world.
All this is to say that America truly is just as special as Americans claim. Maybe not always in the terms of pure action, but in terms of the foundational ideas of the country it’s difficult to find a country more worthy of patriotic pride. I suppose it’s for this reason that when I see lots of American flag-waving in films I have very little problem with it. What got me thinking about this was an old blog post I read recently over at Ryan McNeil’s The Matinee in which he complains about the rampant flag-waving in Hollywood films. He’s complaining from the perspective of a Canadian, and I understand his concerns. We Canadians live so close to America, and are so similar, and consume so much American media that being irked by American flag-waving is natural. The thing is, though, I have no hard feelings about it, and I only wish Canada had a cultural and ideological tradition strong enough to warrant that kind of flag-waving. Click to read more.