patriotism nationalism american values freedom

Restore the 4th Against Unconstitutional Surveillance
self government bipartisan constitutional surveillance fourth of july fourth amendment nsa

This 4th -- Patriotism, Not Thoughtless Nationalism

Patriotism is not a thoughtless glorification of all things American, whether good or ill. It is employing the American ideals of seeking the best for everyone. These 2013 excerpts are from (1) USA Today, July 2, by J.S. Robbins (author of Native Americans: Patriotism, Exceptionalism, and the New American Identity) and (2) Electronic Frontier Foundation, July 1, by R. Reitman.

by James S. Robbins and by Rainey Reitman

America's 237th birthday arrives with the country deeply divided. Whether over politics, policies or lifestyles, Americans seem to be gravitating into distinct and irreconcilable camps. In Washington, partisanship in the halls of Congress has grown to levels not seen since the decades following the Civil War. Public confidence in national institutions such as the government, the news media, big business and big labor is at a historic low. Common ground is vanishing. Civility is in short supply. The country is hanging together, but who knows for how long.

However, divisiveness is not destiny. A core set of American values remains, rooted in freedom and the experience of generations of self-government. They encompass the American dream of a better life for our children. They are an expression of life and liberty of a free people. July 4 should be a time to join together and focus on the commonalities of life in this country. It is a day to celebrate freedom and reflect on the future of the American experiment.

It is tempting to look up to political leaders, but they might be more the cause of division than its cure. Campaign pledges of post-partisanship and bridge-building have foundered on the hard rocks of power politics. This is a bipartisan problem and has grown more severe in the 21st century. According to Gallup surveys, nine of the 10 most polarized years took place during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

If that is to change, the people, not politicians, must be the ones to do the work. They can seek common ground. Accept a shared history and common vision for the future based on American principles. Tone down the disputes that ravage the body politic. Heat up the melting pot and stop drawing lines that divide people. End the fighting over the supposed moral high ground that has left it a burned over hill. Rediscover the positive virtues and harness the natural optimism of a free people.

Patriotism is a commendable sentiment. It is only through nurturing this sense of goodness and recognizing it in each other, even those with whom we disagree, that the country can survive, if it is meant to. There is nothing wrong with the USA that couldn't be fixed if the country had more American patriots.

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This Fourth of July, groups of concerned individuals will be taking to the streets in dozens of cities across the United States in support of the Fourth Amendment and end all forms of unconstitutional surveillance of digital communications by the United States government.

The campaign calls particular attention to PRISM, a recently-revealed project of the National Security Agency that allows the government broad access to the Internet traffic and other electronic communications.

There are many ways to protest unconstitutional surveillance -– including signing onto the Stop Watching Us site and calling your elected officials -– but physical protests can be particularly effective at demonstrating public outrage.

Privacy is not an admission of guilt. The average person expects privacy in many situations, including but not limited to using the bathroom, writing a diary, or going on a date with a spouse. A reasonable expectation of privacy exists in such situations because the events occurring are personal, intimate, and not the business of any other party, government, or otherwise.

There is little to no evidence of any terrorist attacks that have directly been foiled as a result of PRISM.

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JJS: What is the country that most say they love? Is it the land they pollute? Is it the people they tax? Is it the inherited barn-building spirit they violate? Or is it the government which they complain about but nevertheless obey?

People enjoy politics far more than economics, as they care more about sex than health, or celebrities more than neighbors, or TV more than oral history. But money matters and economies rule. We ignore financial matters at our own peril.

By tolerating economic injustice, we create class and all the abuses that go with hierarchy. And government workers, as in the NSA, are not volunteers. They get paid, and paid well, out of tax dollars. So if you care about any political cause, you must get serious about economic justice.

Once you win the end of taxes, replaced with user-fees and land-dues, you’ll make the economy so efficient that people will prosper so very, very easily. And once you win the end of subsidies, replaced with a Citizens’ Dividend, you’ll deny politicians the power to spend willy-nilly and favor insiders, so there’ll be very little to argue over. Then we’ll be able to lock the hood on the economy and discover that almost all our political problems will have gone away.

Meanwhile, happy 4th of July!


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

Why You're Losing and How to Win

Rand Paul tries to stop harsher sanctions on Iran

10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

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