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Patriotism | by Captain America

Patriotism has often been used as a tool rather than an ideal. Let’s take a look at how Captain America explains what it means to be a patriot.  Maybe it can help with the problem.

The First Time - Captain America #1

Captain America tells Spider-Man about the first time he really understood what it meant to be an “American.” What it meant to be a “Patriot.” 

I remember the first time I really UNDERSTOOD what it was to be an American...

WHAT IT WAS TO BE A PATRIOT.

Reading Mark Twain

He read something written by Mark Twain that was so powerful that it stuck him down to his core. He says it “changed” his life.

The First Time - Captain America #2

In a Republic, Who is 'THE COUNTRY?'

A Government Cannot Be

A Temporary Servant

He realized that what is right, and what is wrong, is not something that should be defined by our government. Rather a government must serve – our answers to those questions. 

Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle?

Why, the Government is merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its perogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and who is a patriot and who is isn't.

Its function is to obey order, not orginate them.

They Have Not Command

With this essential function of government in mind, he asked an essential question: “who, then, is the country?”

They Have Not Command

Who, then is 'the Country?' Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit?

Why, these are parts of the country, not the whole of it;

they have not command, they have only their little share in the command.

They Common Voice

The fundamental distinction between a Republic and a Monarchy is the common voice people.

In a Monarchy, the King and his family are the country;

in a republic, it is the common voice of the people, each of you, for himself, by himslef, and on his own resonsibility, must speak.

Solem And Weighty Responsibility

Each member of our Republic has a solemn duty to speak up as to what is right and what is wrong.

It is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government or the empty catchphrases of politicians.

You Cannot Shirk

Each of us, in our Republic, has a duty to act in accordance with their convictions

Each Must For Himself

Each must for himself alone decide...

what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man.

Deciding Against Your Convicitions

Acting contrary to your convictions betrays our Republic.

To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country,

let men label you as they may.

If you alone...

If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way,

and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right,

you have done your duty by yourself and by your country, hold your head, you have nothing to be ashamed of.

The words of Mark Twain that Steve Rogers is quoting came from Twain’s personal letters. They can be found in “Glances at History,” in A Pen Warmed-up in Hell, ed. Frederick Anderson (New York, 1972) and “The Bible According to Mark Twain” (Touchstone/University of Georgia Press, 1996).  These sentiments can also be found in Twain’s fictional work. 

Under that gospel, the citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth's political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal; he is a traitor. That he may be the only one who thinks he sees this decay, does not excuse him; it is his duty to agitate anyway ...

Mark Twain | A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

At the core of Twain’s message was his belief in the difference between a patriot and a traitor. Standing up to the government, when you believe its actions violate your core convictions, is the definition of a patriot. To act otherwise is to be…

Who, then is our Country?  Once the House sends its articles of impeachment to the Senate, each Senator will be faced with this question.  Their vote will be their answer.

 

Lawrence Koplow is an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. His practice focuses on the defense of DUI and Vehicular Crimes. He is also a published author concerning these areas of the law and a proud graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

Follow Lawrence on Twitter (@lawkop)

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