Recently several members of congress and large segments of the public have berated the United States Air Force for awarding a $30 billion contract to French-based Airbus over U.S.-based Boeing to build a fleet of airborne fuel tankers. Here in the south, the criticism was laced with language suggesting that the Air Force’s decision was unpatriotic, that by choosing a French company, they were turning their back on the
American patriotism is fast becoming a descent to mediocrity.
We seem quite willing to shut down our collective intellect in the face of some crude definition of what it means to be an American patriot. Not only does this trend run counter to the supposedly American ideals of merit and just deserts, it promotes nepotism and dim thinking. Awarding Boeing the contract simply because it is an American company is tantamount to nation based affirmative action. The very patriots protesting this award are those who vehemently oppose race based affirmative action with the argument that it undermines quality and is a breach of the contract with merit. Their crude patriotism blinds them even to the simple contradictions in their positions.
Under the banner of patriotism, we yell at Hispanic immigrants to learn to speak English. The implication being, that it is beneath us proud Americans to learn Spanish. The patriot angrily asks, “Why should I learn to speak Spanish to these illegals, this is
This brand of popular patriotism that we now have is making us average. It is not a proud and bright pursuit of positive competition in the name of collective American improvement. It is a shutting down of reasoning, critical thought and the appetite for learning. Unfortunately this lowly brand of patriotism is being aided and abetted by an equally crude political landscape. Senator Clinton’s crass and derisive campaign does not help. President Bush’s sophomoric reasoning and his ‘us versus them’ ideals are equally culpable.
This brand of patriotism is not the only kind. There is another kind that is based on an appetite for learning and a fundamental respect for the world and all its complexities. This second kind promotes high achievement, cultural and social maturity and ultimately a reason to be proud of the country in which we live. That nation pride is pure and is a sustainable foundation for real American patriotism.
As such... Obama '08!!