The Patriotic Fallacy

Every so often the specific references change, but it seems some popular culture theme creates what I call the patriotic fallacy.

It’s really a composition fallacy, a false choice created to set one’s allegiance to his or her country up for discussion.

In the 1950’s, it was Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare.

If you didn’t follow a certain pattern, you were a communist.

If you didn’t support the Vietnam War, you were unpatriotic. Ditto for the Iraq War.

This is, of course, not true. You can disagree with the things your country does and still love your country, much in the same way you can belong to a religious group and not agree with everything they stand for.

Unfortunately, this comes up in political arguments all too often. There are those on the right who insist Barack Obama is a Muslim, attempting to play on the widespread Islamophobia in the U.S.

The underlying implication is if you’re a Muslim, you’re not an American or worse, anti-American.

Obviously, that’s ridiculous.

A tactic like this is particularly popular on the side of an unpopular president and the media has contorted itself into impressive pretzel-like positions, bending over backward to defend our current unpopular president.

A group of ex-military make a PAC to run ads attacking Barack Obama for taking too much credit for Osama bin Laden’s death and they must be anti-American.

General Martin Dempsey, of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, expressed his dismay that “the uniform” would be used for political gain, but let’s be honest, everyone, even military and ex-military, have freedom of speech.

So when a GOP strategist attempts to explain why Gen. Dempsey may not be the most unbiased source of authority in critiquing this case (he works for President Obama), MSNBC and lefty hack Martin Bashir refuses to allow such an explanation on the grounds that it’s unpatriotic.

This is hackery at its finest, but also the patriotic fallacy in all of its glory.

We should be able to have a discussion about something without having to pull the “This is America” card every two seconds.

This country deserves respect to be sure, but to allow the flag to become a shield for those who’d rather not make a rational argument or counterargument actually runs in direction opposition to everything on which America was founded.

We can disagree with people in power, disagree with the actions our government takes and still support our country.

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