Patriotism's future

Love for our country should go beyond pride -- it must manifest into action

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There’s a reason they call such things as saluting the flag or standing for the Pledge of Allegiance “showing your patriotism.”

Norah Belle Caviness waits for the start of the Purple Heart ceremony in honor of her father, Dallas C. Caviness, at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon in this 2012 photo. Showing patriotism is fine, but too few immerse themselves in current events and history.  SARA CALDWELL/FILE
SARA CALDWELL/FILE
Norah Belle Caviness waits for the start of the Purple Heart ceremony in honor of her father, Dallas C. Caviness, at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon in this 2012 photo. Showing patriotism is fine, but too few immerse themselves in current events and history.

Such acts are not the patriotism itself. They are symbols of it.

Likewise, there’s a difference between showing pride in America and actually showing an interest in it.

How are we doing on both counts?

Well, we obviously saw a spike in shows of patriotism after the 9-11 attacks, a dozen years ago this week. But shows of patriotism ebb and flow over the years. They are based on emotions, and emotions are difficult to maintain over long periods of time.

Feelings of patriotism also vary among generations. A 2011 Pew Research report reveals that 48 percent of Americans say this is the greatest country in the world, but only 32 percent of young adults – so-called “millennials” – can say the same.

Some of that disparity is just natural; older Americans are more sentimental and simply know better because they’ve been around the block a few times. But it’s also likely that younger Americans today feel less patriotic for several reasons:

• they came of age after the fall of the Soviet Union, and therefore never knew the chilling shadow of the Cold War

• the American education system in recent decades has appeared intent on correcting what some feel were overly flattering depictions of American history – but academia may have over-corrected to now accentuate our faults to the detriment of our virtues

• the media appear to have done the same, and now often find expressions of patriotism garish and even offensive

• the legal system is often used to suppress patriotism in schools on behalf of a very few who find it distasteful

• rampant political correctness, which seems to be behind the media’s latent desire for us to forget or at least downplay 9-11, lest it offend Muslims

Have you noticed, for instance, how infrequently video from the 9-11 attacks has been shown on television in these intervening years? Imagine if we’d similarly downplayed the images and memories of World War II so as not to offend the Japanese and Germans.

Our schools were once the bastion of patriotic instruction. But as syndicated columnist Esther Cepeda, the daughter of immigrants, wrote last February:

“My peers and I didn’t get (patriotic) just based on our parents’ sunny dispositions. It was drilled into us by that great assimilation machine called public school. It’s an education system that, as I learned while earning a graduate degree in education, has its roots in the mission to teach students patriotism and moral values.

“We want to teach our students to think critically about their history, to be outraged at past wrongs. But too often, criticism is delivered to impressionable young minds with no real sense of historical context. The result is a constant drumbeat about how terrible America is. ...

“In a nation where lawsuits are filed in order to avoid the supposed tyranny of having to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, the prospects for inspiring patriotism in our children are bleak. Prepare for the next wave of second-generation Americans to be far less admiring of their country than their predecessors were.”

As for active patriotism – showing interest in and taking part in our system of self-governance – the news is actually worse.

On the National Assessment of Educational Progress:

• just 22 percent of American students test proficient in civics

• only 18 percent are proficient in U.S. history

And on a civics test offered to the general public by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute:

• 71 percent got an F; the average score was 49 percent

• just 3.4 percent received an “A” or “B” grade

• among those who have held elected office, the average score was 44 percent

Read over those statistics again. Go ahead. We’ll wait. In the meantime, consider the last one – that our elected leaders’ average score on a civics exam is 44 percent. Even elected officials don’t know what makes this country tick!

Showing our patriotism is a great thing.

But doing the grunt work of patriotism – keeping up on current events, knowing your history, voting, holding the government accountable, and otherwise tending to the community’s and country’s needs – that’s where the rubber meets the road.

Over the next year, this newspaper will embark on a campaign to rebuild America’s civic infrastructure, to inspire a renaissance of substantive patriotism through action. We’ll need your ideas and input, and we’ll ask for help along the way.

Let’s do more than show pride in America.

Let’s show some actual interest in it.

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deestafford
32306
Points
deestafford 09/07/13 - 11:02 pm
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3
Excellent, Excellent Editorial

The last two generations of Americans are the most uneducated and most ignorant when it comes to American and World History! For the vast majority are not taught history in school. Many of the history books that are used have incorrect factual information such as having a war in the wrong century.

When it is taught many of the teachers are leftists who think America is a rotten, illegitimately founded country, that invented slavery and should be taken down from its superpower status.

Even the president doesn't understand what the concept of American Exceptionalism means as shown by his remarks early on in his first term.

Contexual time frame has no relevance or meaning to many of the history "teachers/professors" at the college and university levels because they look at America in a vacuum and not as to what the entire world was at the time they are discussing.

You can forget about any studying of the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution unless you go to a school such as Hillsdale and a few others.

Slavery comes up in classes which have nothing to do with history. For example, my youngest daughter took an accounting course at Augusta State University about ten years or so ago and the professor spoke often about the evils of slavery and how bad America was for allowing slavery in the first place. Of course, this professor was ignorant to the fact that less than one half of the Africans brought to the New World as slaves came to North America. The majority went to the islands, Central America, and South America.

As to the ignorance--or is it stupidity--of our elected leaders. I am not surprised when he consider some of the things which come out of their mouths. I saw Nancy Pelosi being asked about how Congress could constitutionally pass some law which they were discussing while she was speaker, she replied it was covered under the "health and welfare amendment''. And she is supposed to be one of the smart ones? Lord, help us!

Bodhisattva
7356
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Bodhisattva 09/08/13 - 05:33 am
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We saw an increase of

We saw an increase of jingoism, not patriotism. There's a big difference. Lawsuits are often filed over not standing for the Pledge for RELIGIOUS reasons. Some do not believe in making pledges. Is the Chronicle all of a sudden against religious freedom? It's not forcing their religion on anyone else, it's keeping them from participating in act their religion prohibits. I find no problem with that. Our predecessors? This nations hasn't exactly been a nation of education. People have learned the basics and gone to work. Previous generations weren't tested at the level of the current generation. From our grandparents to now, I doubt seriously they would have done any better. No, most aren't proficient. Most do have a basic knowledge. Cepeda is full of it. I'm sure she got the basics at schools, just like everyone else. Since she was the child of immigrants, if they had to pass the citizenship test or if she had to pass it, she would have been exposed to much more than the average student. It's no wonder so many get things wrong. You can turn on the tv and have pseudo-historian David Barton on Huckabee giving his fictionalized version of America complete with quotes that are plain out lies. A few years back you could have seen him on the Glenn Beck show doing the same thing. A totally made up version of the US presented as fact to those who don't have the sense or the gumption to look up the real thing and find out just how full of it he is. There are people all over the internet doing the same thing. Lastly. For years we've been placing all of the emphasis on science and math. Social studies has been the red headed stepchild, probably taught by Coach X. If you want students better at it, you have to spend the bucks. Better teachers, more emphasis, decreased class size, and so forth. You also have to teach reality. Yes, we're a great country, but we have done some not so great things. If you try to teach civics, history, government, etc., with the. "My country right or wrong", "Love it or Leave it" kind of attitude, kids can see through it. Even a child can see if it's not ok to kill why can we kill and they can. The "we are the good guys" stuff only goes so far. We aren't always the good guys. The folks who aren't willing to admit it are lying or delusional. We have many black marks on our record and that needs to be part of the history. From the Pequots, to Wounded Knee, to My Lai, to Yorktown, to Normandy, we need to teach the bad as well as the good. The best we can hope for is that we're the good guys the vast majority of the time.

JimS
166
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JimS 09/08/13 - 05:46 am
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Hollow word 'patriotism'
Unpublished

When writing about the VA care system don't stop at attacking the VA as the republicans do, while obstructing full funding for decades, compare to the private sector in same that they don't do as they seek to privatize for corporate profits, like our wars they rubber stamp costs of, the peoples responsibility!!!!

America's Free War's and No Sacrifice, of the present generations and passing costs onto the next while ignoring or giving lip service on the issues of the veterans' from, for Those Who've Served In, DeJa-Vu!!

How does a Country HONOR It's Fallen, by Their Own 'Sacrifice' in Taking Care of the Brothers and Sisters They Served With!!

The Whole Country Served, Not Just The Many Caring Groups, with handfuls of members and volunteers, who have to fight for funding when successful and not getting grants, Within!!

"If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too" "not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

RM: "We got a huge round of tax cuts in this country a few weeks before 9/11. Once 9/11 happened and we invaded Afghanistan, we kept the tax cuts anyway. How did we think we were going to pay for that war? Did we think it was free? Then, when we started a second simultaneous war in another country, we gave ourselves a second huge round of tax cuts. After that second war started. The wars, I guess, we thought would be free, don`t worry about it, civilians. Go about your business." 23 May 2013

"Why in 2009 were we still using paper?" VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers "When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we've been operating on a six month wait for over a decade." 27 March 2013

WHY? GOOD QUESTION THOSE SERVED SHOULD ANSWER!

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." - Abraham Lincoln

Something never mentioned by those that did and those that fully supported the doing, The rubber stamping rapidly rising deficits started Before 9/11 and these wars and continued with right up to the collapsed economy!!

Deficits, especially huge, means the costs of wars and long term results from are passed on to later generations, present is all borrowed, DeJa-Vu all over again!!

USN All Shore '67-'71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country '70-'71

Bizkit
35764
Points
Bizkit 09/08/13 - 07:21 am
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I disagree Bod. The fact the

I disagree Bod. The fact the majority of folks don't want to engage Syria is an indicator the people aren't jingoist. I think most people are patriotic and the reason so many went to support Iraq and Afghanistan although unpopular wars. Now our Govt has a history of jingoism and now Obama, McCain, etc are being jingoist. Now Obama is losing support for Syria we will see just how jingo he can be. Now public schools have been historical mediocre but they teach all that in colleges and we still have some of the best in the world. Although I predict colleges will soon fail because of new education strategies that I believe will just exacerbate problems.

deestafford
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deestafford 09/08/13 - 08:59 am
3
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Bod and Jim

Bod, I could write a pamphlet on the inaccuracies of your statements but I doubt you would read it. With that in mind I'll address one of your points. I have seen David Barton on TV many times, read many of his books, been to his website, www.wallbuilders.com, and met him in person. He is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable individuals on the Founding of this country there is. He goes to the original documents for his positions. Additionally, he may have the largest collection of original documents, letters, books, and Founders papers of any private individual or institution outside the Library of Congress. Bod, you appear to dislike and criticize him because he has the philosophy of that of the Founders rather than the leftist, Marxist, statists which you "progressives" tout...that of this is one of the worst countries in history and any history of it should focus mainly on the warts and thorns rather than the blooms of the rose.

Jim, You make some good points; however, your take on the tax cuts are inaccurate. After Bush's tax cuts revenue to the government went up rather than down. That is the history of every tax cut we have ever had. Each time the income taxes went down revenue to the government increased. One of my disappointments with Bush is his massive spending rather than reducing federal spending. Things really got out of hand when the democrats took over congress and he vetoed nothing. Sadly, I must say Bush was and is a really nice man but he was no Conservative. He was a moderate Republican who thought he could get along with the democrats in DC as he had with the democrats in Texas. He should have known better since he had the opportunity to observe them in their native environment when his daddy was president.

As far as the VA budget goes it has increased every year for over a decade. I have had a claim in since Jan '13 and it is still sitting. We have people eligible for VA benefits who were not injured in the line of duty but they are able to receive disability compensation just because they were in the service. I bet a private enterprise such as Bank America or some such large company could process the claims and have the back log eliminated within 90 days. Additionally, the head of the VA was not a good Army Chief of Staff and he is being consistent in his current postition.

deestafford
32306
Points
deestafford 09/08/13 - 09:14 am
3
2
Revenue under President GW Bush

To back up my claims above that revenue went up as a result of the Bush tax cuts I provide the following information. The Bush tax cuts took full effect in tax year 2004. This is federal revenue in billions for 2001-2008.

2001......$1,991.4
2002......$1,853.4
2003......$1,782.5
2004......$1,880.3
2005......$2,153.9
2006......$2,407.3
2007......$2,568.2
2008......$2,524.3

As can be seen from the above figures, we did not have a revenue problem...we had a spending problem! When people can keep more of their hard earned money they generate more money for the economy which generates more money and feeds the behemoth federal government.

t3bledsoe
14291
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t3bledsoe 09/08/13 - 09:33 am
3
2
Excellant editorial

WAY TO GO ACES!! Ever a liberal can find some of your editoials GREAT!

historylover
19276
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historylover 09/08/13 - 09:49 am
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Bodhisattva

Right on, right on, right on!!

historylover
19276
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historylover 09/08/13 - 09:54 am
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5
deestafford

Boo! You are apparently unwilling to accept true facts and enjoy the rewritten history that the extreme right presents as fact on FOX news. Shame on you. David Barton is not an expert on anything other than revisionist history.

allhans
24988
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allhans 09/08/13 - 10:49 am
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Any poll numbers on where

Any poll numbers on where those who have such a distaste of America would prefer to live?

chascushman
6653
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chascushman 09/08/13 - 11:34 am
4
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"After Bush's tax cuts
Unpublished

"After Bush's tax cuts revenue to the government went up rather than down. That is the history of every tax cut we have ever had."
deestafford, even when JFK cut taxes revenue went up. JFK would touch today's Marxist/communist democrat party with a 10 ft. pole.

dahreese
4914
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dahreese 09/08/13 - 12:31 pm
4
3
First I would like to
Unpublished

First I would like to compliment the AC on the quality of the writing of this editorial - it is far above what usually appears on the editorial page.

There are 'slight' 'errors', however, some of which have already been pointed out above, and I'll try to be nice today and not use the word 'propaganda.'

I am impressed by this statement; "Over the next year, this newspaper will embark on a campaign to rebuild America’s civic infrastructure, to inspire a renaissance of substantive patriotism through action. We’ll need your ideas and input, and we’ll ask for help along the way."

May I first suggest the publication of some quality 'liberal' editorials by quality 'liberal' writers (And complimentary with that, some open minded conservative readers willing to consider views alternative to the way they usually think).

This editorial quotes Esther Cepeda, and there is no problem with that. However, how many commenters have googled to see just who she is rather than just take the word of today's editorial writer?

And, maybe question what she says; "Esther Cepeda, the daughter of immigrants, wrote last February:

“My peers and I didn’t get (patriotic) just based on our parents’ sunny dispositions. It was drilled into us by that great assimilation machine called public school. It’s an education system that, as I learned while earning a graduate degree in education, has its roots in the mission to teach students patriotism and moral values."

To what degree is it really the mission of the public school to teach patriotism and moral values?

In the past our schools taught us not to question our country - that was patriotism.

Who's moral values shall we teach? We condemn "an eye for an eye" in the Quran but accept it in the Old Testament.

What is appropriate dress (for males as well as females)?

“We want to teach our students to think critically about their history, to be outraged at past wrongs. But too often, criticism is delivered to impressionable young minds with no real sense of historical context."

To teach "critical history" about this country is relatively new and 'may' have its modern origins in the warning of Eisenhower's comment about being cautious of the "military-industrial complex."

Certainly the lies of our government over the Vietnam war contributed to this criticism.

“In a nation where lawsuits are filed in order to avoid the supposed tyranny of having to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, the prospects for inspiring patriotism in our children are bleak."

Patriotism doesn't begin and end with a pledge to the flag.

It also requires vigilance of who is running our government and our justice system. For example, this country does not prosecute its own war criminals unless that criminal happens to be a soldier who can be sacrificed to make our white collar war criminals look good.

Few Wall Street criminals have been convicted and sent to long term prison sentences. Banks still control Congress.

"Prepare for the next wave of second-generation Americans to be far less admiring of their country than their predecessors were.”

Ms. Cepeda might be right, or she might be wrong. Why should patriotism be taught only in schools?

"But doing the grunt work of patriotism – keeping up on current events, knowing your history, voting, holding the government accountable, and otherwise tending to the community’s and country’s needs – that’s where the rubber meets the road."

Nuff said.

deestafford
32306
Points
deestafford 09/08/13 - 01:31 pm
1
1
history lover

Could you please give some examples of where David Barton is wrong? Thanks.

corgimom
38787
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corgimom 09/08/13 - 01:45 pm
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1
It's amazing to me that

It's amazing to me that someone would talk about being patriotic and the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and then in the same post, criticize people for refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. It's stunning.

I guess freedom of religion and freedom of speech, Constitutional rights, only applies to some.

If somebody doesn't want to stand for the Pledge, that's their right. We have freedom of speech and freedom of religion in this country.

Standing for the Pledge doesn't make you more or less patriotic, neither does not standing for it.

In fact, there were a bunch of people that were forced to stand to salute their country. It was called Nazi Germany- so maybe some people need to learn history.

And then there's this- "You can forget about any studying of the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution unless you go to a school such as Hillsdale and a few others."

Everybody on here studied the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in their school days and college days, that's how we know our rights and how nobody is required to stand for the Pledge. Perhaps some people need to study that more closely, too, because they obviously don't understand either one.

corgimom
38787
Points
corgimom 09/08/13 - 01:48 pm
5
1
"and the professor spoke

"and the professor spoke often about the evils of slavery and how bad America was for allowing slavery in the first place. Of course, this professor was ignorant to the fact that less than one half of the Africans brought to the New World as slaves came to North America. The majority went to the islands, Central America, and South America."

I don't know, what did the professor say that wasn't true? Slavery IS evil, and yes, it was terrible that it was allowed in America. And Dee Stafford, how do you know what the professor knew or didn't know? How would you know that the professor was ignorant of that fact- because it still doesn't change that slavery is evil and did tremendous damage to America.

Do you think, Dee Stafford, that slavery ISN"T evil?

KSL
144942
Points
KSL 09/08/13 - 02:37 pm
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2
So condescending.

So condescending.

Bizkit
35764
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Bizkit 09/08/13 - 03:09 pm
2
1
Slavery is evil and perhaps

Slavery is evil and perhaps one day it won't exist. But unfortunately it is about as old as modern man and about all cultures have had slavery and still this exists to this day. Slavery was part of Jewish law. I think the "Coolie trade" with the Chinese enslaved far more asians than the african trade of slavery. Funny how most people see slavery as synonymous with african slavery in the US. Just the opposite it was the exception rather than the rule. I think patriotism will go the way of religions in the US as our youth are more likely to become atheists I believe they will also have less of a sense of patriotism or national pride. America does has a long history of pride to the point of egotism so i think it will go the other way for awhile.

Bizkit
35764
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Bizkit 09/08/13 - 03:20 pm
3
1
Barton is a funny figure to

Barton is a funny figure to me-because he has no formal training (and he is a vocal christian) he is dissed for his opinions of history. But then take a fraud like Ward Churchill who has no formal training and further lied about it but was supported by the Colorado faculty. So it really isn't about formal training-it's about what you're saying and if "experts" agree with you or not. George Bernard Shaw, Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville and Ray Bradbury were autodidactic (self taught) with no formal training- but what fool would diss their contributions to literature.

deestafford
32306
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deestafford 09/08/13 - 03:44 pm
3
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cogimom

Two points.

First, you are right. A person does not have to stand and say the pledge as a matter of free speech. I also have the right to look upon that person as suspect and would not want them in a foxhole with me in a combat situation.

Second, my point about the professor and slavery is that was an accounting class and slavery had nothing to do with the subject. If he were teaching a history class that would have been different. My daughter said that type of non-subject matter relativity was common throughout her courses.

By the way, where is slavery so prevalent today? Is it not in the areas of the world where the left want us to believe that their cultures are just as good as that of the West and it is politically correct to not recognize the backwardness of those cultures? Huh?

specsta
7209
Points
specsta 09/08/13 - 03:56 pm
6
1
True Patriotism

There is a simple reason behind the decline of patriotism in this country. I call it "citizen abuse".

Americans are suffering from a case of "domestic" abuse - domestic as defined as "abusive actions inflicted upon us by our own government".

Americans have the right to live their lives in peace, free from government interference. The government does not give us those rights, it is inherent in the fact that we are American citizens. The US Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, makes it quite clear that the people are in control.

However, through trickery and deception, the government has made the majority of Americans believe that those rights are a privilege, offered as a kind gesture to the populace. And folks are dumb enough to believe it. There is a statement from Thomas Jefferson that couldn't be more concise - "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

The government has hoodwinked folks into thinking the opposite is true - so the injection of fear is almost complete. The steps to tyranny and despotism are almost complete. People fear the government. They fear the IRS, the NSA, the FBI, the local and state police, the court system, OSHA, EPA, FDA and every other acronym you can think of. "The feds are coming" is not a phrase of welcoming peace or security.

A US citizen can leave their home in the morning and have no idea if they will safely return that night. A simple missed property tax payment payment can result in homelessness. A traffic stop by the police can result in being jailed or even being gunned down. A Google search of chemicals for a chemistry class experiment can result in the Feds knocking on your door. Forgetting to take your hunting knife out of your luggage can result in a "terrorist" accusation. Drones spy on our cities and cameras record our activities on public streets.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2013/09/08/left-with-noth...

Americans are afraid of their government.

Moat folks don't think about their Fourth Amendment freedom being squandered. Or their First or Fifth or Eighth Amendment rights. Until it becomes personal. That's the problem. Until people begin to understand that every law, act, statute, etc. passed and enforced by the government affects everyone, this nonsense will continue. Most folks don't think about the cruel treatment of prisoners until it affects a family member. Most people don't think about banks foreclosing on people's homes until it affects them.

It's difficult to be patriotic when a citizen can see the huge pitfalls of the government, and that the situation only continues to worsen. Blind patriotism is the playground of fools. Citizens need to stop being deceived sheep and seize Abraham Lincoln's declaration of "government of the people, by the people, for the people" - and stop giving up their rights as citizens out of fear.

That's true patriotism.

dahreese
4914
Points
dahreese 09/08/13 - 05:02 pm
5
0
Specsta, your comments are
Unpublished

Specsta, your comments are dead center (although I think the government is becoming just as afraid of American citizens as citizens are afraid of the government, but I'll save that for another time) and would have made a great editorial.

t3bledsoe
14291
Points
t3bledsoe 09/08/13 - 07:27 pm
2
0
dahreese @ 6:02

"Specsta, your comments are dead center (although I think the government is becoming just as afraid of American citizens as citizens are afraid of the government, but I'll save that for another time) and would have made a great editorial"

Even if my LTE went over like a ton of bricks, I would encourage everyone on this comments board to write LTE's and write often.

Bodhisattva
7356
Points
Bodhisattva 09/10/13 - 10:52 am
1
0
Barton is a fraud. He's not

Barton is a fraud. He's not someone who accidentally gets something wrong, he has an agenda, and twists words, takes quotes out of context, and at times downright makes things up to further that agenda. He's not trying to portray an accurate version of history, he wants to sucker people into believing his sanitized, it was all done for Jeebus, fairy tale version of history. He's a fraud, shyster, liar, religious zealot nutcase who makes it up as he goes along. Compare his versions against real historians. Believe the one who isn't trying to sell the snake oil of his religion. In case you don't understand, Barton is shilling for the christian religion, not accurate science and history. It is impressive, however, to have a book that was voted the least credible book in history.

http://otherwords.org/david_bartons_make-believe_version_of_american_his...
http://hnn.us/article/147149

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