Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dissent and Patriotism

I haven't worshipped at the altar of Mark Steyn lately, but since we're in another round of "Don't you dare question my patriotism!" I thought I should share some tidbits from his column.

For starters, there's no truth to the liberal hymn that Thomas Jefferson said something along the lines of "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." How patriotic was Jefferson being to the crown as he wrote the Declaration of Independence? It doesn't make sense that he'd have said such a thing.

And apparently he didn't.

According to the Jefferson Library: "There are a number of quotes that we do not find in Thomas Jefferson's correspondence or other writings; in such cases, Jefferson should not be cited as the source. Among the most common of these spurious Jefferson quotes are: 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' "

So let's stop that one in its tracks right now. And the fact that Steyn quotes so many Democrats who've attributed that quote to Jefferson shows how bankrupt their views are.

What does it mean when so many senior Democrats take refuge in an obvious bit of hooey? Thomas Jefferson would never have said anything half so witless. There is no virtue in dissent per se. (emphasis mine--Darren) When John F. Kennedy said, "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty" -- and, believe it or not, that's a real quote, though it's hard to imagine any Massachusetts Democrat saying such a thing today -- I could have yelled out, "Hey, screw you, loser." It would have been "dissent," but it wouldn't have been patriotic, and it's certainly not a useful contribution to the debate, any more than that of the University of North Carolina students at Chapel Hill who recently scrawled on the doors of the ROTC armory "F--- OFF!" and "WE WON'T FIGHT YOUR WARS!"

But the high holiness of dissent for its own sake is now the core belief of the Democratic Party: It's not what you're for, it's what you're against. Their current denunciations of Big Oil have a crudely effective opportunism but say to them "OK, what's your energy policy?" and see what answers you get: More domestic oil? Ooh, no, we can't disturb the pristine ANWR breeding ground of the world's largest mosquito herd. More nuclear power, like the French? Ooh, no, might be another Three Mile Island. Er, OK, you're the mass transit guys; how about we go back to wood-fired steam trains? Ooh, no, we're opposed to logging, in case it causes global warming, or cooling, or both.

The Democrats stand for nothing except being anti-Republican.


ldsand said...

"For starters, there's no truth to the liberal hymn that Thomas Jefferson said something along the lines of 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.'"

Of course he wouldn't say anything like that. This is all part of a disease that some people caught in the 1960s and haven't been able to shake.

Carol said...

I have heard that quote thrown around, and it made NO sense to me. Thanks for checking into it.

Darren said...

I wish I could take credit for checking into it. Instead, I just stumbled across the debunking in Mark Steyn's column.

ldsand said...

Mr. Steyn is not always correct. I am glad that he got this one right.

rightwingprof said...

"Mr. Steyn is not always correct."

Citations, please.

Weird said...

The hijacking and misuse of the title "liberal", and selective/false quoting from the Classical Liberals like Jefferson, Madison, and even Lincoln is a shameful tool of the Democratic party. There is a pro Dem site that puts up billboards that read "Lincoln was a Liberal" and other such half-truths about the founding fathers.

I've yet to see them quote Jefferson on these;

"I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared."

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."


"Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state."


ldsand said...

rightwingprof said...
"Mr. Steyn is not always correct."

Citations, please.

Mr. Steyn insisted with great certainty for quite some time that Osama Bin Laden was dead. The latter is, most unfortunately, still alive.

Atlantic Review said...

I agree with Steyn in the sense that dissent for its own sake is useless and unpatriotic. As a Fulbright Alumnus I like Senator Fulbright's understanding of patriotism. He described criticism as a compliment and a higher form of patriotism, I believe, than the familiar rituals and national adulation.
So it all depends on how productive criticism is and whether it is expressed in good faith.