We all know how to define "weasel." The question is, how do we define "patriot?"
Attend to those self-described patriots who so recently sought to deny their fellow Americans the right to a vigorous and vocal condemnation of the Bush league's transparent money-making scheme, the invasion of Iraq.
"America, love it or leave it!" cried these self-described defenders of democracy.
Now, as evidence for the propaganda campaign (two words so recently associated with the KGB) convincing the credulous of the immediate threat posed by this distant sovereign nation appears increasingly irrefutable, attend to the allegiance of these so-called patriots.
Are they demanding accountability for their nation's tarnished image (immediate and historical), or are they standing by their representative, George W. Bush?
What should a patriot do? To whom does a patriot owe allegiance, a man or the nation?
Another George, the one who admitted he cut down the cherry tree, averred the presidency seeks the man, not the man the presidency.
A virtuous man n What American kid does not learn the very definition of honor from the cherry tree story? n Washington clearly believed a patriot's loyalty is due his country.
Therefore, what shall we make of those who will not attend to the deliberate deceptions perpetrated by the Bush league, those who support the man rather than the country. Are they patriots?
So eager to label others "traitors" as they jumped on the bandwagon of bloodlust and triumphalist expansionism driven by astute marketers of Republican imperialism, would the thoughtful among us be correct to suggest the same of them, that they are traitors?
No. They are merely fools. The word "traitor" is only bandied about so cavalierly by fools.
Deficient in learning, in scope, and in vocabulary, in this crises of historic proportion their response is as simplistic as their worldview.
These are predominately America's intellectually and economically disenfranchised; an unsophisticated underclass manipulated by astute professionals fully aware of their constituency's gullibility and predisposition to fear and loathing. It is no accident fundamentalist religion plays such a prominent role.
The significant question remains, what should America's true patriots do both about the Republican administration's potentially criminal activity and the efforts of those who would, to America's detriment, ignore the ignoble behavior of the Bush league?
The answer is simple. For the sake of our country America's patriots must minimize the impact of those who would put their own appetites before their civic responsibility. It is time to stand up for America and deny this vociferous, rapacious minority continued impact at the polls.
Because they continue to be susceptible to the inflammatory rhetoric of the pulpit and the radio, we, America's true patriots, must work harder. We must convince the cultivated but sedentary among us to stand up during this time of crises and prevent the rabble from continuing to disgrace America.
Look to your neighbors and your friends. If they are thinkers, have them attend to the worldview of those who find threatening the very act of critical thought. Having done so, encourage these friends and neighbors to make their displeasure apparent in the election booth.
We must motivate the complacent for America is at a critical juncture and complacency is unpatriotic.
Patriots may guarantee fools the freedom of choice with regard to lifestyle and speech, for that is the explicit nature of American democracy. Conversely, should the avowed anti-intellectuals and religious fundamentalists gain control of all three branches of government will they offer these same freedoms?
What will become of democracy? What is becoming of democracy?
Republican leadership is deliberately exacerbating the fears of its constituency, those predisposed to believe in some incarnate evil forever lurking behind skin of another color, the god of another religion, or the culture different from their own, in order to destroy those freedoms that define America.
Wrapping themselves in the very flag that represents not only every American's right to voice a political opinion, but their explicit responsibility to do so, the Bush league would stifle such dissent in the name of patriotism. And their constituency, also self-proclaimed patriots, willingly countenance such behavior.
In so doing the Bush league and its minions would redefine that which the flag represents, that for which America stands. People who assert they have a right to control what you do in your bedroom despise freedom. We cannot permit them command.
R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.