Don’t Be a Half-Patriot

The Actual Definition of a Patriot Suggests a Word Overused in Defense of Injustice

I tire of the cry of I, Patriot, which accompanies too much justification of rhetoric. If you call yourself a patriot because you believe you are a person who loves and defends his or her country, then you are, unfortunately, only half a patriot.

The definition of the word has a second clause, which comes after an and, a clause that I believe is all too commonly ignored. Here, then, is the full definition of a patriot:

…a person who loves and defends his or her country AND upholds people’s rights.

I get the sense that many of the people running around this country beating on their chests (and other things) don’t realize that you don’t get to wear that moniker without meeting all of its criteria.

Remember that scene in The Princess Bride where it is hilariously pointed out that no matter how many times one repeats a word, it is not transformed into what one believes it means just because one wants it to be?

It is inconceivable that so many are self-congratulatory about what a patriot is without fully understanding what a patriot does.

The definition does not say upholds certain people’s rights or rights I claim for myself and those who agree with me. It does not suggest, or allow one to misunderstand that it meant upholds convenient rights. It does not go so far as to say it upholds only the rights of the powerful, the male, the Christian, the White, the non-immigrant, the cis-gendered, the able-bodied…insert specific group here.

It asserts that a patriot is a person who not only loves and defends his or her country, but who ALSO, AND, IN ADDITION TO THE FOREGOING, upholds people’s rights. If you have trouble understanding what a person is, your problem is well beyond the scope of these words, and professional help may be in order, no matter how questionable the likelihood of success.

Patriots don’t stand for injustice, inhumanity, or division. They might kneel during the national anthem to highlight an instance where people’s rights are threatened. They might lose a gubernatorial battle due to unlawful disenfranchisement and go on to win the war because they upheld the rights of all people to vote. They might lose their voices, their homes, and sometimes even their lives. If you love your country, and you are willing to defend your country, you should know that upholding people’s rights can be dangerous. To be a Patriot, you must be willing to take that risk. The risk is lessened when we become a society in which we are all willing to do so for one another. That is the utopia, the Dream that is America.

Let me not forget here to thank profoundly those true Patriots who worked tirelessly for needed and necessary change. Who believe in redemption, hope, unity, and the power of freedom and justice for all. I thank the Patriots who voted, exercising a right of all who attend this chapel of democracy. I don’t even care how you voted as long as you are a Patriot who conforms to the fullest meaning of the word, and plan to continue to love and defend this country while upholding We-The-People’s rights.

We’ve got a lot of work to do, Patriots.

Author and artist at blueframe publications.

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