Here’s why the far right’s ‘patriotism’ claims and Revolutionary War comparisons are so twisted
When a mob of far-right extremists violently attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, some of them were invoking the American Revolutionary War of the 1770s and 1780s and equating themselves with the colonies that overthrew British rule long ago. But author John Patrick Leary, in an article published by The New Republic on February 5, explains why that analogy and the far right's obsession with the word "patriot" are deeply flawed.
"The Capitol rioters invaded the Senate, looking for traitors and crying out, 'Hold the line, patriots,'" Leary observes. "The right often seems to be reenacting an action movie fantasy of the Revolutionary War, folding a language of "patriotism" into their every leaflet and banner. It's there in the yellow Gadsden flag waved by the Tea Party, and in the names of dozens of militias active in practically every state, from Alabama's American Patriots Three Percent to Wisconsin's III% United Patriots."
Leary goes on to lay out some reasons why the far right badly misunderstands the word "patriot."
"A patriot is a good citizen, lover of order — and an insurgent, an unruly subject," Leary explains. "Given all of these confused loyalties, perhaps the real meaning of 'patriot,' what really fuels the sense of attachment it carries, is not the various positive meanings it is occasionally given, but its opposite: not 'love of country,' in other words, but hatred of the 'traitor.' The Ku Klux Klan, for instance, always pledged its service to civil government, the Constitution and 'pure patriotism,' even when the group waged war on federal and state governments and anyone else who betrayed its notion of 'purity.'"
Leary continues, "Whatever their stated political convictions — open White supremacy, anti-tax zealotry, or QAnon delirium — what appears to nourish Trump fetishists is a boundless sense of betrayal and a bottomless well of self-righteousness. It's a toxic, ridiculous combination."
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