Thursday, April 03, 2008

Blind patriotism

The saying, “My country, right or wrong,” is often cited as a statement of blind allegiance to the nation and its policies, no matter what.

It is often said to counter those who try to point out when this country is doing something wrong - implying that critics are not patriotic.

The problem is, it is only a partial quotation – and one that distorts the real meaning.

In 1872, Senator Carl Shurz said: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

His notion was that if the nation is wrong, it should be set right, not just blindly followed. Criticism can not only be patriotic - a true patriot must be ready to criticize and fix things when the nation goes astray.

Naturally, G. K. Chesterton had his own spin on the idea: “'My country, right or wrong' is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'”

No comments: