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Uncritical patriotism

I live in Boston. The bombings last week were approximately 2.5 miles from my house. I experienced the shock, fear, and uncertainty that has rocked this city over the past several days. However, the amount of unchecked patriotic rhetoric that has been carelessly thrown around since the terrible bombings have left me feeling frustrated, angry, and alienated.

I am so grateful for the outpouring of support in this city and throughout the nation for the victims of Monday’s attack and for all of us whose sense of security has been shaken. I am grateful for the emergency responders and even for sports teams who have acted in solidarity to show their support during this difficult time. However, I do NOT feel comfortable with the rise in feel-good patriotic rhetoric circulating.

When I tried to express my concern and discomfort at work today (where news coverage touting American ideals contrasted with traumatic scenes and descriptions of the attack played constantly) a colleague of mine argued that Patriotism isn’t problematic because it makes people feel good and “American values are objectively positive.” She disagreed with my discomfort (how do you disagree with someone’s discomfort?!?) and I felt more frustrated and alone than ever. By not buying into the patriotic rhetoric uncritically, this sweet but naive young woman deemed me, though I am sure unintentionally, a “bad” American.

This morning at the interfaith service in Boston President Obama said: “I’m here today on behalf of the American people with a simple message: Every one ...

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