by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When I mentioned to my liberal wife that my next book would be dedicated to the defense of patriotism, as an antidote to growing divisiveness, she warned me that my colleagues would consider it a defense of right-wing extremism. When I demurred, she sent me the following quote from the webpage of the Anti-Defamation League, which states that the “‘Patriot’ Movement” is a “collective term used to describe a set of related extremist movements and groups in the United States whose ideologies center on anti-government conspiracy theories. …” This language — the only discussion of patriotism on the ADL website — reflects the tendency of many on the liberal end of the political spectrum to equate patriotism with chauvinism and extreme right-wing politics.
I was thus careful to include, on the book’s front page, a quote attributed to Charles de Gaulle: “Patriotism is when love of your country comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” …
… After I sent my manuscript to the University of Virginia Press, an editor told me that he loved it, but that the proposed title, “In Defense of Patriotism,” troubled him. “It will be considered a right-wing book,” he warned. A colleague suggested that I rename it “Reclaiming Patriotism,” a title that the publisher liked because it acknowledged that patriotism can be perverted and needs to be recaptured so that good citizens can proudly embrace it again.
I wanted the book’s cover to show the American flag, but the publisher worried that such a cover would signal chauvinism, and my liberal granddaughter at Yale said that she would not be seen carrying such a book on campus.