If you haven’t listened to Slate’s The Gist podcast with Mike Pesca, you should. His insights and delivery are news-man perfection for the 21st century, and moreover, I love the way he writes. On his December 12th episode, he opened by addressing why and how the word “patriotism” has been declared the sole domain of the right, and cracks that have appeared in that bludgeon they so deftly weird against the left. Painstakingly transcribed below by yours truly:

They say that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, but I say SeriousChannel125 is the last refuge of the patriot. That is the name of the channel for a certain type of political programming. Would you like to guess? Is it Left Wing political talk? Is it Right Wing political talk? Or centrist political talk? Of course it is, you guessed it: It’s Right Wing political talk. And I was thinking of this when I heard that current CIA director John O’brennan, described the CIA officers who tortured– Sorry! Can’t call it “torturers” –but you can call them the “Black Site Question Askerers,” “The Attention Grabbers,” “The Abdominal Slappers,” (those are all things that they did). Torture is way too incendiary. Call them “The Stress Positioners.” So he called them “patriots.”

Why did patriotism, the word “patriotism,” “patriot” fall into the hands of just one-half of the American public. Sometimes you will hear a Liberal defending their own patriotism by saying, “I think it’s patriotic to dissent.” “I think it’s patriotic to question my government.” Yeah, well, maybe, but that’s not exactly getting at patriotism the definition: vehemently defending your country.

I am a patriot. More-so, I think, than many self-styled patriots. A lot of self-styled patriots, Tea-Party patriots, don’t like the government, don’t like the president, don’t like broad swaths of the electorate. What do they like? Each other? The Land? The wide open prairies? Are they patriots or geologists? See, I’m claiming patriotism, because if you love America, and you want to vehemently defend America, you want to face down America’s problems before the problems become overwhelming.

I had a neighbor who loved his classic car. Now, did he ignore a clanging sound? No. He addressed that clanging sound right away. Didn’t make him less of a car lover; made him more of a car lover! So what of the problems of America? Things like Economic disparity, educational imbalance, I don’t call these “problems” because I’m not patriotic, I call these problems because I “am” patriotic. It’s preservation. If you love it, you want to fix it. Like the car enthusiast, a teacher who points out and corrects the mistakes of her pupils. Does she do it because she doesn’t support them? Is that why she’s voicing criticism? No! It’s because of her commitment. 

So were the CIA torturers patriots? Maybe they were, but it would be for other things they did elsewhere, not because of what tubes they inserted into what rectums, in what “black sites”. The people who correct their actions, those are the real patriots. Whoa! The soapbox is getting a little creaky.

Listen here.

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