In a New Oxford Note in our March issue, we commented in passing on the "Support Our Troops" decals and bumper strips. Among the peaceniks, we've seen "Peace Is Patriotic" bumper strips, even placards planted in front yards. But what does it mean? The conjunction of "patriotic" with "peace" sounds like a disconnect.
"Patriotic" means love of one's country. Does loving one's country mean one loves one's country because it is peaceful? That's quite a stretch. A patriot is above all one who will defend his country from an aggressor nation. If anything, to be patriotic is about war (a just war, we hope), not about peace. In the movie The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson, about the American Revolution, Gibson was initially unwilling to fight the British. But when he saw the brutality of the British, he fought, and he fought bravely. Gibson was a patriot, and the movie was aptly named The Patriot.
We suspect that our Berkeley residents who have "Peace Is Patriotic" bumper strips and yard signs are trying to jump on the patriotic bandwagon (admittedly now waning). They're being opportunistic. Maybe some ignorant people will fall for it. Nevertheless, it's a dumb slogan. There are better ways of expressing your opposition to the war on Iraq.