What Defines an American Patriot?
By V. Susan Hutchinson
Who are the real patriots in America? Based on the definition of a patriot as “one who loves and supports his or her country”, the answer should be so obvious even the Republican Party could figure it out. But they have redefined the word patriot to suit their own purpose and use it as a rallying cry to stir up unrest against an internal enemy that doesn’t exist.
A GOP patriot loves and supports Donald Trump. It has nothing to do with America.
As domestic terrorists and other Trump rally attendees stormed the Capitol on January 6, Ivanka Trump Tweeted they were “patriots” because they were doing her father’s bidding. The fact that she immediately took the Tweet down is irrelevant. This is who she believes are American patriots – those who stand with her father even (especially?) if it means violating the Constitution and chanting for the death of the Vice President.
If You Aren’t With Us, You Are Against Us
Trump and the GOP make it clear that patriots have to choose sides. You apparently can’t be a patriot and support any part of a non-conservative platform at the same time. You are anti-American if you aren’t in agreement with the Trump agenda.
The phrase “if you aren’t with us, you are against us” has been used for centuries to force people to choose sides. Sometimes it is for a common good as when George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton both used it to garner support from other countries to fight terrorism across the globe.
Trump and the GOP use the concept of us vs. them to pressure people into supporting Donald Trump and only Donald Trump. Sarah Palin used the phrase to unify Republicans when campaigning for Trump in 2016 and implied that any Republican who didn’t support him was a RAT (Republican Against Trump).
You know who else used this phrase to bring people together for his own agenda? Benito Mussolini. Italian “patriots” came together under Mussolini’s fascist regime if they knew what was good for them. Donald Trump calls anti-fascists (antifa) a terrorist group.
It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that Trump is politically closer to Mussolini than George Washington.
The USA PATRIOT Act
How many people know that the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 is an acronym? It stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.
PATRIOT was something the GOP probably felt would create a lot of support across America. Everyone wants to support something that screams patriotism. Calling it the Preventing Terrorism bill just wouldn’t work; it had to be something to rally people even more right after 9/11. When the media dropped the acronym and started calling it the Patriot Act, that worked to the advantage of the GOP. Keep the “patriots” riled up and they won’t look too closely at what you are doing is the GOP way.
Donald Trump used this tactic for four years.
Everyone was so caught up in the aftermath of 9/11 that the name of this bill made it sound like it was sorely needed to prevent another foreign terrorist attack. Congress had previously rejected most of what eventually ended up in the USA PATRIOT Act, but the attack on the twin towers meant that it would easily pass now.
But the patriots didn’t read the fine print.
Looking more closely at the bill showed that it increased the surveillance powers of the federal government including record searches on an individual’s activity held by a third party and expanded the ability to search private property without notice.
There was no mention of limitations to suspected terrorist activity when defining these additional powers. Law enforcement and the federal government could use this as justification against any Americans as well.
Patriots and Insurrectionists
We all know that America was the result of a revolution against the British because the colonists felt oppressed by policies implemented by Parliament. Those who fought bravely in the American Revolution were labeled patriots and because of them we now enjoy freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest.
The founding fathers knew the British Parliament was not looking out for the interests of the colonists; they were looking out for their own interests. The use of the word patriot to describe those who fought for an independent America was accurate because they loved and supported their country, which to them was the American colonies, not a distant land that most had never been to.
This is the only time in our history where one could be both an insurrectionist and a patriot.
The rise of the KKK and other White supremacist groups since the Civil War continues to this day with all saying they are patriots. They do indeed love America, but they do not really support America and the democratic values it was founded on.
Support for country, even if you don’t always agree with government policies, is the most important part of being a patriot. Peaceful protest and voting are the ways to make change, not by insurrection and attempting to illegally re-install a president who lost an election by a landslide.
Donald Trump and the GOP will have you believe the insurrectionists of January 6 were doing their patriotic duty as American citizens to “stop the steal”. And if America’s founders started an insurrection and were called patriots, then these people are too.
The Revolutionary War patriots were trying to form a separate country and distance themselves from a tyrannical king, not overthrow him and take control of Parliament.
Those who laid siege to the Capitol were supporting the tyrannical king, which only makes them loyalists to Trump and nothing else. They certainly aren’t patriots in the true sense of the word.
Anyone can call themselves a patriot and wave a flag to “prove it”. Real patriots are also loyalists to the American ideals of democracy with liberty and justice for all regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. They do not profess allegiance to any president.
All the Republicans in Congress who are still solidly supporting Donald Trump and fighting against the Articles of Impeachment filed against him are clearly not true patriots. If they were, they would do whatever is necessary to keep him from gaining power again. Instead, they are continuing their attack on American democracy solely to stay on the side of Trump’s Terrorists because they need the votes to remain in office or when they attempt to unseat Joe Biden in 2024.
How far we have fallen from the true patriots who died to form this great country.