Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Citizen Voices


One of the most annoying aspects of talking to self-proclaimed conservatives is their relentless propensity to retreat to jingoism.

Jingoism is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "extreme patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy." It refers to sections of the general public who advocate the use of threats of or actual force against other countries in order to safeguard what they perceive as their country's national interests, and to excessive bias in judging one's own country as superior to others. 

It is nearly impossible to have a meaningful debate with someone who reverts to somewhat subjective concepts like " liberty " and " freedom " as the justification for everything.  Whose liberty?  Whose freedom?  Who and what exactly are they referring to? How is sending our children to fight for control of Iraq’s oil serving our freedom or liberty?   How free are returning soldiers going to be without arms or legs or frontal lobes?  How exactly will the presence of Blackwater serve our freedom? (One of the first requirements of a totalitarian government is the creation of a private army.)  And finally, how is illegal wiretapping serving our freedom?


It has long been my experience that the biggest hawks are often those who have sacrificed the least.  Growing up, as I did, on Naval Air Stations, I learned first hand, on a daily basis, the enormous price the "warrior class" pays so the rest of the country can have their "freedom."  And there is no question that there is a need for military might, and it’s good to be the strongest fighting force in the world if you are part of the country that has it.  But having that force does not give us the right to abuse it to fulfill any agenda held by the Bush regime.  We, as human beings, must have moral boundaries.  When do we stand behind our government and when do we stand behind our humanity and say,  "Stop the insanity." How many slaughtered children are we willing to sacrifice?

  - Candace Suerstedt is a filmmaker and a mother of three who lives in Coronado.

Alma from San Diego
February 15, 2008 at 09:22 PM
Hi Candace, Reading your entry reminds me of how frustrated I felt over this last summer, trying to call the attention of my local and State representatives to stand up in opposition to some serious oversights in the Bush administration. The jingoism has always mystified me. I've been told, as probably many even more progressive Dems, to "love it or leave it." But that 's not what I believe this country was founded on. My own thoughts are that the country needs to take risks, to clear the air with discourse and even dissent, to move forward. I'm never ashamed to speak proudly of the U.S., but sometimes I wonder whether friends of a conservative persuasion see that as my allegiance to something other than to the flag, but to the ideology of a particular party. We can be good Americans, and as you point out good humans, whichever side of the aisle we stand on.

Dave from Oceanside
February 16, 2008 at 02:03 AM
What always makes me mad is that the propagandists have the warrior class believing that if you want to bring the troops home that you don't support the troop.. They convince the warrior class that Democrats are against them because they don't think we should be Iraq.. I don't care that we are in Iraq.. it's the fact that we are killing and dying in Iraq that bugs me... What bugs me is that the propagandists have the warrior class forgetting about the Weapons of Mass Destruction.. they have the warrior class convinced that everyone over there want to kill an American during lunch. And the hawks do it over and over again.. Korea.. Iran.. hell.. now we're bringing Russia back for an encore.. as well as shooting a missle at a satellite to show those billion Chineese that we can do it too.. It just makes me sick that the warrior class wont listen to the truth because they've been custom fed a line of crap that is wrapped in red, white and blue... and the warrior class is most definately loyal to the red, white and blue.. Hopefully, someday, the red, white and blue will be loyal to the Warrior Class and stop throwing them away at any old cheerleaders whim.


Michael E. Russell from Pacific Beach
February 20, 2008 at 05:56 PM
Jingoism is just a form of national elitism, and as such is part of the politics of division practiced by those who's ideas are too weak to compete. If your right about the issues, then you can afford to open your ideas to debate, to reach out to your opponents, to bring people together, because your ideas will win in a fair fight. But if your ideas are weak, and lack righteousness, then you must divide people to conquer them. Forms of elitism: Sexism, Racism, Religion, Jingoism, Tribalism, etc. All stem from the "I am (WE are) better than YOU" mentality, which treats others as objects, animals, as "less than" rather than equal. This very concept is ANTI-AMERICAN, it goes against our founding documents and every lesson we have learned in blood. America is about the open debate of ideas, freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and the press. Those who would misuse the words 'freedom' or 'liberty' to hide behind the sacrifice of young people to prolong an unnecessary war don't understand what that sacrifice is about, and thus do not deserve to be called citizens of this country. Without the hard work and risk of entering the dialog of democratic debate and the patience, persistence, and courage to risk themselves and their family, they have not the earned it. Next time you meet a Jingo Conservative, and they hide behind the flag, ask them if they have the conviction to put up and step in front of the flag. Ask them to speak about their 'values' in public at your next meeting, most will back down because they are cowards, but if they don't you may get the rare opportunity to learn form each other. For a good example of how America spreads its 'freedom', see "Rules of Engagement" on Frontline.

Marilyn Mitchell from Encinitas, CA
February 20, 2008 at 06:10 PM
Only those that are incapable of analyzing the issues need everything delivered in sound bites. Unfortunately, they exist in the majority in this country. We have become a nation of poorly educated, fearful bullys willing to swagger our way through the world, not caring which countries we invade, on borrowed money. Yikes!

February 21, 2008 at 02:56 AM
Michael, I'm curious, where have you confronted these "cowards"? In a blog or chat room maybe? Also, the fact that America supposedly treats others as animals and objects fits right in with the left's fascination with Darwinian Evolution - I would think you would be pleased. I'm not sure what makes me more uneasy, the fact that we are at war with IslamoFascists - or that you all tend to think of yourselves so much more educated than those on the right that your willing to delegitimize the whole effort because you've invested so much intellectual capital......

February 22, 2008 at 01:38 AM
Candace, What moral boundaries do "we" affirm as a nation? Are they preexistent - if not, who makes them up? And are these the same morals we "flexed" during our intervention into the Balkans conflict in the 1990's?