The fine line between patriotism and zealotry

Is there a line between the two? I guess it depends on who you ask. In my opinion there needs to be a line there, but sometimes it really seems that there isn’t. At a recent speech given by President George W. Bush crowd members were told that if they caused any disruption or didn’t provide thunderous applause they would be promptly arrested. Everyone read that again without a couple words.

…crowd members were told that if they caused any disruption or didn’t provide thunderous applause they would be promptly arrested.

OK now that you have read that and really digested it. What if we changed the name so that it said something like this…

“At a recent speech given by Adolph Hitler crowd members were told that if they caused any disruption or didn’t provide thunderous applause they would be promptly arrested.”

Does that change the way the statement reads? Or does that alter your perception of the statement in any way? Because trust me they both say the same thing. If they mean something different to you based upon which name you see then perhaps you should stop for a second and wonder if you have crossed the line.

I am a patriot. I love this country and I love that I am able to live is this country, but I cannot accept that we should willing allow things like this to happen in the name of patriotism. No matter what happens in this country, no matter (god forbid) how many Americans are killed, someone should still have the right to stand up and say that what the country is doing (or what the country’s Leader) is doing is wrong. That is what this country is here for and that is why we have laws to protect our freedom of speech.

Hitler started his reign not with guns, but with patriotism. He convinced the German people that they were being slighted as a country and that it was time that they fought back. Only then, once he had a larger degree of power, did he resort to guns and weapons.

Now I am not saying that is what President Bush is doing and I am also not saying that I think he is a bad president. What I am saying is that you have to watch out for certain types of mindsets. There are zealots for any idea or belief, but it is society’s job to make sure that they do not become the norm for society and I am not sure that is happening right now. Around half of America thought that Bush was a joke at his election. Jokes abounded, but then a tragedy hit. Arguably the worst tragedy to America, ever. Now it is frowned upon to make jokes about Bush. Why? Because now we are supposed to be a united group of people. I would say on the most part we are, but being united about a cause doesn’t require that we stop being critical of other or even that cause or activities.

In the name of security there have been attempts on lots of personal liberties. Encryption has been challenged, the FBI wished to have all encryption with back doors in them that would allow law enforcement to decrypt them. Does that mean a lot to most people? Probably not, most people don’t care or know that the FBI could read their files, but to some people it does. Do Americans have the right to have things that the FBI can’t read? I think so. We have a right to personal privacy. Another is an increased demand for laws allowing wire taps and harvesting if email. The proposed laws will make it easier for law enforcement to get permission to use these means to gather data.

Now obviously no other well-known (to me) regime has had the option to use methods like this, so I cannot say, “Look this is exactly like what happened when _blank_ came into power.”, but it is alarming to me that things like this are getting pushed through congress and such on the tail end of a national disaster and that they are being billed like this as patriotic acts of legislation.

Now I am not saying that we should revolt or become anti-establishment-national-monument-picketing people, but I would like to bring some of this up to show you that you have to be conscious of what is going on, because there is a fine line between acts of patriotism and acts of zealotry or totalitarianism.

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