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Ambivalent Patriotism

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Ambivalent Patriotism
Towards the United States

By Elliott Germain
Chairman of the Virginia League of the South

There is a most unsettling dilemma found within the hearts of many Patriotic Americans emanating from their feelings of Ambivalent Patriotism toward the United States. There is no shame in one saying he/she is an American, it is an expression of pride, yet when persons within our government assume powers and implement policies contrary to our Constitution, a Partriot may feel a rise of blood pressure and wish to flog the criminal politician. Or when an entire branch of government acts against the liberties of US citizens, such as the murders of an entire church in Waco, our patriotism toward the government is left hanging by a thread. The actions of our Federal Government often leave us with adverse feelings of partriotism and disgust.

There is a comparison of this dilemma of mixed patriotism to an example of ambivalence found in family life, or more specifically within a troubled family, with regard to the relationship between a father and his son. The son represents the "Patriot" and the father represents the "Nation". This is a logical comparison since the root word of "Patriotism" is the Greek word "pater", meaning father, and the word Nation being derived from "natio" or "by birth" (natal). The son, by instinct, is loyal to his father. But let's say that the father gets drunk sometimes and beats up the son for no reason; the son hates the father's unjust violation of their relationship. He is loyal to his father, yet he hates his father's misuse of authority. This is a personal analogy of the Ambivalent Patriotism that many Americans have toward their national government.

Ambivalent Patriotism is no more clearly evident than the feelings of Americans of the Southern descent, i.e. Confederates. Modern Confederates were born, and grew up in the "American Union". The flag flying over the nation in which we were born was the Stars & Stripes. If we go to a foreign land and are asked "What country are you from" we say the United States. But when Southerners think of "Home" we think of "Our State", then the "South" and then the entire "United States". We are patriotic to all three, each for different reasons. A major consideration is that southerners who identify with their confederate heritage - do study history - and in doing so understand the true history of, and association between, these three jurisdictions which compete for our patriotism.

A person born in Virginia is loyal to Virginia. He studies the history of his state and learns that it had entered onto a compact with twelve other states to form a mutual government that was to reslove political problems relating to the interactions within this confederation of states; that government was called the United States. The confederated government was accused by the State of Virginia of assuming powers not granted to it in the compact. Other Southern States came to that same conclusion, which led to their secession from the original government and into the formation of a new confederated government. This created a new patriotism, to the Confederate States of America. The American dream has flourished in each of the three governments: Virginia, the United States and the Confederate States, but things change. But people have had adapt to preserve liberty or see it vanish.

The United States attacked the Southern States and thus attacked their Confederacy. The Southern States were destroyed, and with it the destruction of its public property and private property to include the loss of life to soldiers and civilians, the debacle of the monetary system, the imposition of a military government and the permanent loss of Constitutional Rights, both State and National. That very same destructive "Federal" government is still in power today and has offered no true account or apology of its actions. How can one love his own State (Virginia) ans still love the instrument of its destruction?

My patriotism of the Confederacy (which never surrendered) is unwavering (for "they" never attacked Virginia, but only defended her). And so my patriotism of the United States is Ambivalent: I love the America of 1798, but I am repulsed by those who destroyed it, and by those politicians today who assume powers never rightfully delegated to them. Honest Patriotism is attracted to that which best serves virtue and liberty, but is repulsed by their destruction, past or present.