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July 4 Aerial Banner Schedule – Pictures win shirts! - Comments

weavehole's Avatar Comment 1 by weavehole

Isn't patriotism/nationalism a little... irrational?

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 15:20:32 UTC | #846059

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 2 by Robert Howard

How many times have you heard theists refer to atheists as un-American, anti-American or un-patriotic?

My favourite George H W Bush quote: 'No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God'. He doesn't sound that smart; one can only hope his children, if he has any, are more intelligent.

Good luck on the 4th, from your Eurotrash friends, and watch out for snipers.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 15:51:40 UTC | #846071

JuJu's Avatar Comment 3 by JuJu

Comment 2 by Robert Howard

My favourite George H W Bush quote: 'No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God'. He doesn't sound that smart; one can only hope his children, if he has any, are more intelligent.

He does and they weren't.

That's my understatement for the day.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 16:09:48 UTC | #846079

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 4 by Nunbeliever

USA is a strange country indeed. In my country patriotism is largely regarded as something dubious at best. There are people who regard themselves as patriots but they are almost exclusively conservative right-wing supporters. And I think patriotism is essentially not something any rationalist movement would like to promote. In the end, you can't deny the fact that a patriot is a person who thinks a country has a privileged status just because that person happened to be born in this country.

Still, patriotism seems to be the default state in USA. Americans are expected to be full-blooded patriots. To be called unpatriotic seems to be one of the worst things you can be called in USA and this baffles me. What baffles me even more is that even atheists who are self-proclaimed defenders of reason don't seem to find this situation problematic. It seems like patriotism, to them, is the most natural thing in the world. They will fight for the right to be called patriots! Nothing problematic about it at all. Sorry guys and guls, but YES, patriotism should be handled with care! There is nothing rational about patriotism. Patriotism can in my opinion be considered a secular religion and that is why I find this poster so damn ironic.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 16:48:25 UTC | #846090

Austin K's Avatar Comment 5 by Austin K

Patriotism in Canada is a lot different than in the USA. We take immense pride in our accomplishments, inventions and the natural beauty of our country, but few Canadians if any will state that Canada is the BEST country in the world. Though it's our favorite, and we love it unconditionally, we aren't blind to it's flaws and we recognize where other countries are better than us in certain areas. For instance, we know we're the best hockey players, but you'd never catch us make the same claim about football, cuisine, or our army. I think the problem with many American patriots is that they truly believe they are the best at EVERYTHING, which is really nationalism, not patriotism. Love your own country, but acknowledge its flaws and learn from other countries.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 17:38:55 UTC | #846103

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 6 by Robert Howard

Samuel Johnson said that patriotism was 'the last refuge of the scoundrel'. In England, the St George Cross, a red cross on a white background and the national flag since the sixteenth century, has in recent years been co-opted by extreme right groups such as the British National Party and the English Defence League, although some attempt has been made to claim it back from the fascists, especially in football (sidenote: a few years ago when the World Cup was on, my father, an avid football fan, was walking through the town centre of the town where he lives, wearing his St George football shirt, when he passed a group of EDL supporters who were handing out leaflets that day. One of the Cro-Magnons spotted my father's shirt and yelled out something to the effect of, 'Cheers, mate, thanks for supporting us'. My dad told them to go and fornicate themselves).

I think that Americans are just wired differently to those of us in Europe; not wrongly, just differently. Stephen Fry explained this eloquently on a recent edition of the brilliant QI. What he said in effect was that America doesn't have any royal family on which it can pin its feelings of pride in its country, so the normal feelings that Americans have tend to become focused on symbols such as Old Glory.

Also, because the USA is a young country, and only became the world power less than 100 years ago, I think that Americans might be a bit insecure about their place in the world. How many times do we hear American politicians and tv stars proclaiming that America is the greatest country in the world. When we look at the rise in economic power of countries such as China and India, I don't think we can really blame them for being a bit defensive.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 17:59:38 UTC | #846107

Atheist Mike's Avatar Comment 7 by Atheist Mike

Remember that America technically is an empire (and should remain one for at least a decade or so), the 'american dominance ideal' it projects worldwide also reflects on people at home. Its culture also seems to have been heavily influenced by colonial violence, struggles in the wilderness (wild west especially) and conflicts with natives. I wouldn't expect anything else than a sort of aggressive patriotism from Americans considering their history. If atheist groups think they can gain popularity by appealing to American patriotism I say go for it. In my opinion, a devoted atheist patriotic yank is infinitely better than a devoted religious patriotic yank.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 18:16:18 UTC | #846110

Tony d's Avatar Comment 8 by Tony d

Nothing wrong with patriotism . I know where my loyaltys are. 1= Family 2=Friends 3=England 4=West Ham utd 5=Britain

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 18:27:08 UTC | #846113

monkey's uncle's Avatar Comment 9 by monkey's uncle

Comment 2 by Robert Howard :

My favourite George H W Bush quote: 'No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God'. He doesn't sound that smart; one can only hope his children, if he has any, are more intelligent.

I suppose that we will just have to face facts & accept that most of us cannot hope to posses the towering intellect & the profound insight that George Bush has.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 18:40:45 UTC | #846114

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 10 by Robert Howard

'comment 2 by...erm...me'

Good luck on the 4th...

Sorry, I genuinely didn't realise that today was the 4th July. D'oh! The irony that I was making fun of the Bushes for being stupid isn't lost on me.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 18:49:42 UTC | #846117

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 11 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 18:50:04 UTC | #846118

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 12 by Robert Howard

Comment Removed by Author

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 18:52:13 UTC | #846119

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 13 by Richard Dawkins

I'm in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where one of these flypasts was promised for this morning, during the parade. The parade was fun, but unfortunately the plane never showed up. Any reports from other parts of the country?

Richard

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 19:33:28 UTC | #846130

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 14 by MilitantNonStampCollector

Comment 4 by Nunbeliever :

There is nothing rational about patriotism. Patriotism can in my opinion be considered a secular religion and that is why I find this poster so damn ironic.


I agree. Patriotism is not as loony as religion, but it's pretty damn loony in itself. Why would I think the country I happen to have been born in is so special and better than all the other countries? Seems a bit irrational to me. I've always thought a good understanding of evolutionary biology lays waste to the concept of patriotism as well as religion.

Comment 6 by Robert Howard :

How many times do we hear American politicians and tv stars proclaiming that America is the greatest country in the world. When we look at the rise in economic power of countries such as China and India, I don't think we can really blame them for being a bit defensive.


I cringe everytime I hear that greatest country nonsense. The arrogance! It's like saying I have the greatest taste in music in the world and that all other tastes are not so good.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 19:48:47 UTC | #846132

All About Meme's Avatar Comment 15 by All About Meme

Comment 14 by Derek M

I cringe everytime I hear that greatest country nonsense. The arrogance! It's like saying I have the greatest taste in music in the world and that all other tastes are not so good.

Indeed! Or talking heads like Tom Brokaw and his book The Greatest Generation. Does Brokaw's assertion imply that the ancestors and offspring of this supposedly "greatest generation" are somehow less great?

I hope his mother slapped him.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 20:02:02 UTC | #846137

Sara12's Avatar Comment 16 by Sara12

I don't think there's anything wrong with patriotism per se, as distinguished from nationalism, which I agree just brings problems. But there's nothing wrong with feeling good that the group you happen to be a part of, even if only through the accident of birth, has done some good things, especially if you feel like you've contributed to those things. I agree that we should always remember and acknowledge the bad stuff. In fact, I think doing that is absolutely essential to being patriotic because working to rectify or prevent reoccurrences of the bad stuff helps us (this is anywhere, not just the US) to work towards the ideals we aspire to, but seem never to quite reach.

Stephen Fry explained this eloquently on a recent edition of the brilliant QI. What he said in effect was that America doesn't have any royal family on which it can pin its feelings of pride in its country, so the normal feelings that Americans have tend to become focused on symbols such as Old Glory.

I would agree with that. The story around the writing of the Star Spangled Banner is actually a very good and interesting historical story, from the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. Most people only ever know or sing the first verse, which is fine by me because there is not a single mention of god in that verse.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 20:06:38 UTC | #846139

Tony d's Avatar Comment 17 by Tony d

To me patriotism is a feeling of loyalty and love for ones country. More than one post on this thread has implied that patriotism is loony.I would say these people should scour the globe. Find a country they love more and feel more loyalty to than the one they are living in and move to that country.

Patriotism does not mean that you think your country is the best at everything. Obviously it is very easy for an Englishman like me to feel patriotic.There is an embarrassment of riches for all those lucky enough to be English to feel patriotic about.

I hope that people around the world are striving to make there country's places they can feel proud of .

So i say to all the Americans enjoy your 4th of July.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 21:08:43 UTC | #846157

TobySaunders's Avatar Comment 18 by TobySaunders

I would interpret a banner behind a plane with 'GodLESS America' to be a fundamentalist Christian banner, actually... especially after the moral NY gay marriage ruling, I would have thought the banner was perhaps a response to that ruling.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 21:18:33 UTC | #846159

skiles1's Avatar Comment 19 by skiles1

Comment 13 by Richard Dawkins :

I'm in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where one of these flypasts was promised for this morning, during the parade. The parade was fun, but unfortunately the plane never showed up. Any reports from other parts of the country?

Richard

Jackson Hole! Beautiful area! No loss. I don't imagine an you're all that enthusiastic for American Independence Day, anyway.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 21:34:52 UTC | #846164

Atheist Mike's Avatar Comment 20 by Atheist Mike

Comment 18 by TobySaunders :

I would interpret a banner behind a plane with 'GodLESS America' to be a fundamentalist Christian banner, actually... especially after the moral NY gay marriage ruling, I would have thought the banner was perhaps a response to that ruling.

Indeed, the intended message isn't very clear. One could also easily mistake it for one from the Westboro Baptist Church accusing the US of not being religious enough during its day of independence.

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 22:28:47 UTC | #846178

gothgirl's Avatar Comment 21 by gothgirl

(sigh) It's getting so that I almost cringe anytime I see anything that mentions America on this site anymore. I feel as if I must constantly apologize for the cretins that are my fellow citizens. As an American, I can tell you that this country is getting more and more nutty. I am with anyone who feels that "patriotism" is akin to nationalism and that I don't agree with it. I had to try to explain this to a young man in my Shakespeare class in school (I am an adult student going to college to get an English degree) while we were studying Henry V. I was astounded that an intelligent kid of only 20 would fall for the "nationalism is good" line that Bush espoused. I tried to explain to him that Nazis were nationalists and that while it is all well and good to be proud of your country, propagating the myth that it is perfect can cause a whole lot of trouble (as the Nazi explanation was indicating). The US is far from perfect and "the land of the free" is becoming less and less free. One is only "free" to keep making rich people richer and "free" to have religion (esp christianity) shoved down one's throat. I would like to say to Bush (Sr) "If I'm not a citizen then give me all my tax money back!"

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 00:10:54 UTC | #846195

PERSON's Avatar Comment 22 by PERSON

Contemporary "patriotism" in the US, particularly since 9/11, is often nationalism or jingoism. But it isn't always. Orwell pretty clearly draws the distinction as it was before the recent corruption of the term at the beginning of "Notes on Nationalism".

BTW, the substitute for the royal family is the presidency, except when he's a buffoon (Bush is not the first, and his father was not widely mocked in the same way), or it's politically expedient. Though the BRF has been widely criticised at times (e.g. when Diana died) there hasn't been quite the same political impetus behind it. Sometimes it's described as being respect for the office of presidency, that being separate from the man (thus far) holding it. The veneration of the flag is more widespread than in Britain (where it is not absent), but I'm not convinced that's a substitute for the royals. Rather a symptom of the greater influence and power of authoritarianism.

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 07:23:05 UTC | #846262

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 23 by Agrajag

It's not an "aerial banner", but someone had fun with a sign HERE!
The comments are encouraging. :lol:
Steve

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 10:38:18 UTC | #846317

weavehole's Avatar Comment 24 by weavehole

Thanks for those links, PERSON. Look forward to reading the second in more depth once I've moved it onto my wellknownbrandofsmartphone™.

In my mind there had certainly been less of a distinction between those two words and one usually seems to mold with the other with perhaps Nationalists being at the more extreme end.

Orwell writes:

By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.

But even this definition seems to paint patriots with a rather blinkered view of the nature and possibilities inherent in all the world's cultures. It's fine to be against cultural/moral relativism, and some people may even be correct to say that their way of life is the best compared to all others but to then refuse to take on board any other ideas seems daft. Hmmm, maybe I'm wrong to think that believing your country/culture to be the best also mean you think it's perfect, but this sometimes seems implicit especially when patriots are confronted by criticisms of it. However, I'd still contend that it is irrational.

It can be plausibly argued, for instance — it is even possibly true — that patriotism is an inoculation against nationalism, that monarchy is a guard against dictatorship, and that organised religion is a guard against superstition.

This sentence, in my eyes, suggests that the former classification in each pairing is the lesser of two evils and are perhaps stepping stones to getting rid of the lot of them.

Anyway, maybe I'm more of a Nationalist than I care to admit. I refuse to write color instead of colour (it's the Norman Tongue in me, I guess)

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 10:55:01 UTC | #846321

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 25 by drumdaddy

I'm getting my first notice of these sky-banners here on July 5th. I'll leave the camera home.

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 11:44:26 UTC | #846337

PERSON's Avatar Comment 26 by PERSON

Weavehole, a better reply later I hope, but this blog post seems apropos.

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 11:59:33 UTC | #846343

weavehole's Avatar Comment 27 by weavehole

PERSON, thanks again. An interesting read and it further clarifies the difference between patriotism and nationalism in the writers eyes. Fair enough, I can see that there is a difference between the levels of morality inherent in each. I might liken it to the difference between a soccer* fan who loves and supports her club and follows it everywhere offering positive encouragement as and when necessary and a fan who goes out of his way to abuse and brawl with fans of their local rivals.

However, both the supporter and hooligan are in certain ways equally irrational.

What are countries? Imaginary lines on maps?

How did they get to be the shape that they are? Warlords and Kings fought battles where some were equally pitched and the results may as well have been decided on flipping a coin, other battles were mismatched and were the result of an accident of geography (im thinking of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel here), other lines were decided by rich families marrying into other rich families, others were decided simply by drawing straight lines across maps.

So whether one is a patriot who sees the good and bad within your own country or a nationalist who wants to take over the lands of Johnny Foreigner, you're still buying into an idea that should be consigned to history as soon as possible.

Hmmm, maybe in another thousand years?

Regardless of all that, if these banners make life in America better for Atheists then that's a groovy thing.

Addendum: I wonder if watching national or local teams in sports will survive once we have Peace On Earth. Will it be a curious vestigial culture that reminds us of our brutal past?

*before any English nationalists jump on this word as an Americanism, it isn't. So :p

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 13:11:11 UTC | #846376

Sample's Avatar Comment 28 by Sample

I subscribe to the idea that saying something, indeed anything, is the "most patriotic thing one can do" presents immediate problems. And really, I can't recall a situation outside of a political one with high stakes or in satire, where an American would call themselves patriotic. It's just not done.

I'm further inclined to accept that patriotism is not unlike a dialect for instance, in that native speakers will understand their language and therefore culture, in a way not easily accessible to non-members, if at all.

I find it a valuable word, a meme even, that need not be associated with aggression or irrationality.

Mike

Wed, 06 Jul 2011 09:19:47 UTC | #846814

Telic's Avatar Comment 29 by Telic

.

Some pics from the 4th celebrations in New York - including the banner ;)

Banner

Wed, 06 Jul 2011 22:56:05 UTC | #847114