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In September, 2006 my father wrote some thoughts on patriotism to his family. This is my response.

I am a patriot in that I love America. I love the idea of America and what we used to be, what we used to have, and what we used to stand for. I hope some day we can be and have and stand for those things again.

After the use of manipulated intelligence (at least) to justify the Iraq invasion, after Abu Gharib, CIA detention camps in Europe, indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay, waterboarding and the rest, could you really say "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" with a straight face any more?

I love America so much that the things that are happening to her make me very sad, and I want them to stop. This includes terrorist attacks against us and our interests, but it also includes many of the policies of the current administration.

One of the things that is happening is the rape of the Constitution. The whole point of that document is that We the People see the need to restrain the power of the central government. I believe that warrantless wiretaps and wholesale data mining are violations of this compact.

I've heard Rush Limbaugh and others say wiretaps are a crucial investigative tool. This argument misses the point. Nobody says you shouldn't be able to do it. But in America, you have to show a judge you have probable cause. You can even do so after the fact, in the case of national security wiretaps. The same principle applies to other invasions of privacy like wholesale data mining. To do otherwise is to disregard and defile the protections of the Constitution, a breach of the Presidential oath to defend and uphold it.

I worry a lot about phrasing like "America is under threat from Islam." Forgive me for sounding like a Lib, but is the threat from "Islam" or from "Islamic Extemists"? Is it from "Islam" or is it from "A group of people who are predominantly Islamic"? If a group wants England out of Northern Ireland, and the members of the group are overwhelmingly Catholic, is the threat from Catholicism?

This is no trivial distinction. I think it is wrong and dangerous to say the threat comes from all of Islam. It's wrong because it's incorrect on its face, and it's dangerous because it leads to decisions and policies that make enemies of people who could be allies.


This page was last edited April 26, 2008.