There is no need to subscribe to the cocktail set’s snide defamation of patriotism as ethnocentric jingoism. Patriotism is neither adolescent nor obsolescent. Why should we modern Americans consider it unworthy of a good press?

Some social planners think a well-functioning technological society has no need of patriotism: since a computer age can presumably program utopia, patriotism has been made technically obsolete. But these naturalistic dreamers oversimplify human experience. They relate mankind to machines rather than to persons, forgetting that man isolated from a society of selves is less than fully human. Moreover, they demote patriotism to emotion and metaphor, and ignore its rational basis. It is remarkable that those who offer the mythology of “scientific naturalism” as a comprehensive explanation of the externally real world naively think they have thereby exorcised all contemporary myths, while in fact they mask the very truth, values, and personal decision that alone can give even their own formulations interpersonal significance.

The first word spoken of one’s nation or government need hardly be negative criticism, particularly if one is a Christian. A nation should be publicly credited for whatever virtues it distinctively pursues. Americans have no moral duty to suppress gratitude for significant national achievements—noteworthy social improvements made without the savagery of the French and Russian revolutions, use of American military might to destroy Hitler, technological competence to split the atom and put a man on the moon, and the world’s highest per-capita availability of food, bathtubs, automobiles, and, for good or ill, television sets.

The patriot delights in the ...

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