Cheap patriotism vs. real patriotism

To the editor:

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” That bit of wisdom, attributed to the English author Samuel Johnson in 1775, has become part of our common culture and is as true today as in 1775. Johnson must have been referring to cheap patriotism and not to real patriotism.

Real patriotism requires sacrifice of your own self-interest for the good of others. Real patriotism is never cheap. It always has a cost to the patriot. We honor those in military service who have sacrificed their lives and their health for a cause greater than their self-interest. The honor that we owe them is not diminished by the cynical misuse of their patriotism by our political leaders.

You don’t have to wear a military uniform to be a real patriot. Those who sacrifice a higher income or an easier profession in order to serve others are real patriots. The same is true of those who give their time and money to serve the greater good.

Every American citizen has a patriotic obligation to vote, to make the effort to be an informed voter, to consider the common good when voting, and to pay your fair share of taxes.

The cheap (false) patriot is into the symbols of patriotism, i.e., the flag, the national anthem, military parades and slogans, such as “Support our troops,” but does not care to sacrifice self-interest for the common good. Cut my taxes and let the shoeless ones pull themselves up by their own boot straps are the refrain of the false patriot.

It would be difficult to find anyone who better epitomizes cheap patriotism than the current occupant of the White House who throughout his life has shown no interest in serving anyone other than himself. He possesses great wealth, but he bragged before the American people about not paying taxes.

Now this scoundrel uses appeals to cheap patriotism to fire up his ignorant base.

John H. Burns

Willmar (formerly of Marshall)