Alexander's Column

American Patriot Defined

By Mark Alexander · Apr. 14, 2011

Patriots' Day: Their Sacred Honor in Defense of Liberty Endures

“Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.” –George Washington

A young reader in the Czech Republic contacted me recently with a question. (Yes, The Patriot Post’s message of Liberty is global.)

She wrote, “We as a Czech family subscribe to The Patriot Post and read it with great interest. My homeland has been subject to the tyranny of Nationalist and Marxist Socialism. Could you please help me understand the difference between ‘patriotism’ and ‘nationalism’? In Europe, anyone who puts his country first is called a nationalist and this pejorative term is equated with patriotism.”

I responded, “Nationalism refers to a blind allegiance to the state, no matter what the nature of the state may be. American Patriotism refers to the steadfast devotion for the First Principles of our nation’s Founding, individual Liberty as ‘endowed by our Creator,’ and the extension of that legacy to our posterity. American Patriotic devotion to Liberty will always be in contest with allegiance to the state or its sovereigns, especially when it manifests in some form of Socialism.”

It is easy to understand how a Czech student might find it challenging to distinguish between patriotism and nationalism. Sadly most American students, heirs to the great legacy of Liberty bestowed upon them by generations of Patriots gone before, also can’t articulate the difference.

In the early morning hours of the first Patriots' Day, April 19th, 1775, farmers and laborers, landowners and statesmen alike, pledged through action what Thomas Jefferson would later frame in words as “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.” Thus began the great campaign to reject the predictable albeit tyrannical order of the state and to embrace the difficult toils of securing individual Liberty. It was this as-yet unwritten pledge by militiamen in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which would delineate the distinction between Liberty and tyranny in Colonial America.

Why would the first generation of American Patriots forgo, in the inimitable words of Samuel Adams, “the tranquility of servitude” for “the animating contest of freedom”?

The answer to that question defined the spirit of American Patriotism at the dawn of the American Revolution, and to this day and for eternity, that spirit will serve as the first line of defense between Liberty and tyranny.

In the first months of the American Revolution, English author and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, a Tory loyalist, wrote that American Patriots' quest for liberty was nothing more than “the delirious dream of republican fanaticism” which would “put the axe to the roots of all government.” Johnson concluded famously, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Unlike King George’s partisans, however, American Patriots were unwaveringly loyal to something much larger than a mere man or geo-political institution. They pledged their sacred honor in support of Essential Liberty as “endowed by our Creator” and enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and its subordinate guidance, our Constitution.

It is this resolute devotion to the natural rights of man, the higher order of Liberty as endowed by God not government, which defines the spirit of American Patriots, and has obliged the animated contest of freedom from Lexington Green to this day.

In all the generations since the Revolution, and loudly again in the present era, the essence of Johnson’s denigration of patriotism has been repeated by all statists, who augment their disdain for Patriots with words like “fascist, nationalist and jingoist.”

These statists, Democratic Socialists in the current vernacular, would have you believe that they are the “true patriots,” and only they deserve to be the arbiters of Liberty. To grasp their extent of their distorted view of patriotism, consider Barack Hussein Obama’s rationale for higher taxes to fund more government growth this week. Obama had the audacity to suggest, “This sense of responsibility – to each other and to our country – isn’t a partisan feeling. It’s patriotism.”

Caveat emptor: As George Washington implored in his Farewell Address, “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

Liberty, as affirmed through natural law, is an abject affront to Socialists, who can claim dominion over others only if they supplant Rule of Law with their own rule. For such statists, the notion of serving a higher purpose than oneself is enigmatic; consequently, there is a raging ideological battle between Democratic Socialists and Patriots across our nation today.

Our steadfast support for Liberty and limited government is diametrically opposed to the Socialist manifesto of the Democrat Party, as reframed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, and renewed by every Democrat president since.

Regardless of how statists choose to promote Democratic Socialism, like Nationalist Socialism, it is nothing more than Marxist Socialism repackaged. Ultimately, it likewise seeks a centrally planned economy directed by a dominant-party state that controls economic production by way of taxation, regulation and income redistribution.

Mustering in response to the current threat of tyranny, the Tea Party movement is the latest incarnation in the lineage of American Patriots serving a cause much greater than our own self-interest. It is a direct ideological descendant of the Sons of Liberty who, in 1773, boarded three East India Company ships and threw 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor, the first Tea Party.

According to the Democratic Socialists of Barack Obama’s ilk, the Tea Party rank and file are an “angry mob” who are “waving their little tea bags” while they “bitterly cling to guns and religion.” Indeed, the spirit of American Patriots is anathema to these statists.

In fact, today’s Patriots are much like those of previous generations.

We are mothers, fathers and other family members nurturing the next generation of young Patriots. We are farmers, craftsmen, tradesmen and industrial producers. We are small business owners, service providers and professionals in medicine and law. We are employees and employers. We are in ministry at home and missionaries abroad. We are students and professors at colleges and universities, often standing alone for what is good and right.

We are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and public servants standing in harm’s way at home and around the world, who are loyal, first and foremost, to our revered oath to “support and defend” our Constitution.

We are consumers and taxpayers. We are voters.

We are not defined by race, creed, ethnicity, religion, wealth, education, geography or political affiliation, but by our devotion to our Creator, and the Liberty He has entrusted to us, one and all.

We are Patriot sons and daughters from all walks of life, heirs to the blessings of Liberty bequeathed to us at great personal cost by our Patriot forebears, confirmed in the opinion that it is our duty to God and Country to extend that blessing to our posterity, and avowed upon our sacred honor to that end. We are vigilant, strong, prepared and faithful.

In stark contrast to Samuel Johnson in 1775 and Obama today, John Adams wrote, “If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave.”

To that end, Jefferson wrote, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. … Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.”

In 1964, Ronald Reagan issued a clarion call for Liberty in his most famous speech, “A Time for Choosing.” He echoed the commands of Captain John Parker at Lexington Green in 1775: “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” Reagan concluded, “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”

Now, on the eve of Patriots' Day 2011, and nearly five decades later, and much closer to the decline that Reagan predicted, we must choose between prosperity and poverty, between Liberty and tyranny.

Which will it be?

While contemplating that question, we should, in the words of Samuel Adams, “Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, ‘What should be the reward of such sacrifices?’ … If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands, which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!”

If you have not already done so, please help us, in the words of Sam Adams, “set brushfires of freedom in the minds of men,” by supporting our 2011 Patriot’s Day Campaign!

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46 Comments

Stevo said:

Oops! Forgot to add the war of 1812! Haven't had enough Kona coffee, yet...

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Robert said:

"[Socialism] likewise seeks a centrally planned economy directed by a single-party state that controls economic production through regulation and income redistribution."I think you make a strategic error here that pushes away the unconvinced. Very few liberals want a single-party state. Very few democrats want control of industry. Assuming the intent of others is a poor way to win someone over. Who are we to judge another man's intent? I believe you could improve your message by assuming that liberals have good intentions. Their fundamental belief that the group overrides the individual will naturally end in what is described above. Keep away from slagging the intent of liberals and focus on the non-sequiturs of their policies and the consequences. I don't espouse left wing policies becuase of the long-term consequences of those policies. Their hearts are good, but their logic denies reality. One cannot wish away cause and effect.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 2:53 PM

The Editor replied:

What I wrote: "Regardless of how statists choose to promote Democratic Socialism, like Nationalist Socialism, it is nothing more than Marxist Socialism repackaged. Ultimately, it likewise seeks a centrally planned economy directed by a single-party state that controls economic production through regulation and income redistribution."

It is truly nescient to suggest that Democratic Socialists, by definition, do not seek to establish a government that has dominion over all domestic affairs. They have already established that by way of the federal tax code and regulation of virtually every aspect of what used to be the private sector. Oh, of course many of their lemmings are just feel gooders, but the protagonists like Obama have a very deliberate Socialist agenda. In regard to "assuming the intent of others," I think you are guilty as charged both in your assumptions of what was written here, and in your assumptions about the motives of Leftists.

jim b said:

I just read an article by Allen Keyes. He is concerned that George Soros and his group, along with several White House comrades intend to disrupt the economy in a big way starting this May 1st. Anyone else heard this and is there any credence?

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Ed Y. said:

Mark,Wow, what a substantial and powerful essay (as usual). You once again made clear the choice we face and the importance of the outcome. God willing, enough people will understand and heed the call. We must all realize that capitalism is just another word for "economic freedom," and socialism is just another word for servitude (which is a synonym for slavery). Perhaps that needs to be a message we continue to repeat until everyone gets it. (It would also make a great bumper sticker!)Thanks for your continued great work!Ed Y.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Deane said:

You defined patriotism only with respect to American patriotism. I think a more useful answer to the young Czech would be that a patriot is one with great love or devotion to his country, while a nationalist is one who blindly places the interests of his or her country above the interests of all others. I would draw an analogy to child rearing. One certainly has great love for one's child but would not blindly assert the child's interests above all others. If the child steals, a "patriotic" parent would correct the behavior and endeavor to teach that the behavior was wrong, while a "nationalistic" parent would hold that the child's actions must be right.In many respects patriotism is internally directed within a country in showing affection and loyalty to the nation yet tempered with the knowledge of a supreme architect of the universe and a fundamental sense of absolute rights and wrongs. Nationalism is largely externally directed in advancing the interests of the nation above those of other nations without regard for any higher power or moral compass.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 3:18 PM

BRC said:

@Glenn, MN. . .Jefferson wrote, "The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. . .God does not judge at birth, but gives both in love.It is by a misinformed choice that a man will move away from either.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Joshua said:

The Patriot Post is always filled with amazing comments and commentary,but this essay is truly one of the best I've read. It almost brought me to tears when I read the words that fanned the flames of patriotism that burn within my breast. When a mans industry and property are confiscated to give to a man who is without either, neither of them is free. We have to be ever vigilant and fervant in our efforts to thwart or destroy those who would subjugate us in the guise of social responsibilty and compassion. Raise the standard, draw the line in the sand and declare ourselves free men who will not let them advance another step. God Bless America and the patriots who defend and support her.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Joseph Pinckney said:

well said.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 3:30 PM

LDS Mom said:

Great article! Thank you very much! Keep up the great work.RE:Stevo, this is what I believe for what it is worth to you. One of the blessings of being born in the USA is that you can believe as you wish to believe and are free to practice religion or not as you desire. But careful research will show you that God has a special purpose in mind for this Promised Land of America. Read the Book of Mormon! This may or may not be a bitter pill for you to swallow, but you owe your right to worship how, where or what you may to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jesus Christ Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. You've seen "if you can read thank a teacher." Well, it might also be said, if you can count liberty as a blessing thank a Christian. God honors those who honor him. You may be surprised to find that your good works are honoring him after all, albeit anonymously.There was divine intervention in the framing of this nation and this nation and the principles that it was founded on will not be lost to any arm of flesh.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Stevo said:

Re: LDS Mom, with all due respect, it is precisely my history in the mormon religion that required me to look at other alternatives. Not to get into it, but I decided long ago that it was not for me. I come from a long line of mormons dating back to covered wagons and all. I actually find a lot of insight into teachings of Buddha and others. But thank you for your input. Again, I am taken back by those that would discount me and my patriotism due to religious reasons.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Hillard Welch said:

I apprecite your definition of Nationalism vs Patriotism.As a true lover of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, I have always thought of Nationalism as making the state supreme whereas Patriotism meant individuals supreme in their belief in the founding principles!No question in my mind but what the United States was founded by Patriots, not Nationalists!

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Robert, AZ said:

At a required attendance event,(Admiral speaks) several hundred people, in the throes of a "cold", were coughing. Discreetly, of course. The noise level, nonetheless, was quite high. The Officer, from the podium, said, in a firm command voice, "Gentlemen, stop coughing." The only sound in that room for 50 minutes, was that Officer's voice!Mark, I find your presence, and voice, very much reminding me of that described event. Your presence, as projected from the podium of the Post, demands that same attention. Thank you.The parallels you draw are discerning. Perhaps you considered, and dismissed this one: we now realize that King George is reincarnated, along with his courtiers, in the form of an inexperienced man whose father is a subject of the UK. Full circle?

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 5:26 PM

BrianK in Northwest Arkansas said:

Mark, wonderful essay! You stated in the essay, and in a response to one commenter, that our men and women in uniform are on the side of right. That may be so, I have no way to know for certain about the entirety of the military complex, but it certainly seems that our military's leaders have hitched their wagons to Obama's star. They are supporting his illegal activities in Libya without regard for the constitutionality of the action, and the rank and file are just following orders, but they have been placed in harm's way for NOTHING!

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 5:30 PM

The Editor replied:

Well, in any well managed revolution, the first to go are, as Shakespeare wrote, the lawyers. The second are the traitors, those who have forsaken their sacred oaths to support and defend our Constitution. Those political officers know who they are, and so do those who actually do the work of warriors.

LDS Mom said:

Great article! Thank you very much! Keep up the great work.RE:Stevo, this is what I believe for what it is worth to you. One of the blessings of being born in the USA is that you can believe as you wish to believe and are free to practice religion or not as you desire. But careful research will show you that God has a special purpose in mind for this Promised Land of America. Read the Book of Mormon! This may or may not be a bitter pill for you to swallow, but you owe your right to worship how, where or what you may to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jesus Christ Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. You've seen "if you can read thank a teacher." Well, it might also be said, if you can count liberty as a blessing thank a Christian. God honors those who honor him. You may be surprised to find that your good works are honoring him after all, albeit anonymously.There was divine intervention in the framing of this nation and this nation and the principles that it was founded on will not be lost to any arm of flesh.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 9:11 PM

LDS Mom said:

Re: StevoI respect your decision and your right to make them as I do all of God's children. That's what we are here to do-- decide where we want to end up when it is all over. The ability to make those very choices are what we are all passionately defending. And in no way are your patriotic feelings and actions untrue or irrelevant because you are not a Christian. All good comes from God and all good deeds honor Him. Patriotism in this country honors all that is good and right and decent in a moral society. Being patriotic is honoring the God who inspired those values.I respect the teachings of the Buddha, there are truths there. However in my estimation, they don't take me far enough. I want to go all the way back home.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 10:17 PM