Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A few passages from Karp with relevance today

“the citizen-turned-nationist,” Karp, pp. 19-20, Buried Alive

“The virtues of the citizen-turned-nationist would be simple, logical, and straightforward. For the sake of the nation, whose strength abroad demands ‘complete internal peace,’ he would do all that ‘internal peace’ requires. He would forego the exercise of his liberties – to speak, to act, to voice independent judgments – and urge his fellow citizens to do likewise, for the sea of liberty is turbulent and weakens the nation in the performance of its ‘international duties.’ For the sake of internal peace he would rest content with his lot and cease dividing the counsels of the powerful with selfish demands upon his government. In domestic affairs he would mind his own business and ask for nothing. In foreign affairs he would mind everyone else’s business and call hotly for action. Eternal vigilance, liberty’s steep price, he would willingly abandon because only a people that shows ‘confidence’ in its rulers can provide them with the power to act forcefully abroad. Mutual respect, which citizens pay to each other simply because they are fellow citizens, he would replace with the patriotism of mutual suspicion – ‘positive polarization,’ as a presidential administration would call it fifty five years later. His own ‘vital patriotism’ he would display by condemning as ‘disloyal’ and ‘un-American’ those who still cherish the republic and still fought to preserve and perfect it. Sedition, the crime of weakening the nation by critical words, he would undertake to root out among his neighbors (‘America – Love it or leave it’), although officially no such crime exists in America. Such was the new-molded citizen envisioned by the warmongers of 1916 and extolled every since by the promoters of nationism.”

Think of JFK’s inaugural address and the famous line “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” [Recall another possibility, one a citizen might ask: What is my government doing to me? Ah, but of course this possibility falls outside the purview of a president who was said to head an administration popularly referred to as “Camelot”!]

And keep in mind that a colleague of Dr. Schultz has characterized him, jokingly, as being “anti-American.” Of course, that colleague is correct if being an American means being what Karp calls a “nationist” or what I would call a “nationalist.”

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