The Topic

By idgie57
4 Nov 2018

“We have no word for the person who doesn't have special affection for our country that isn't freighted with negative connotations. It seems the moment is ripe to coin one.”


aloney. Goldberg attempts to define patriotism in his own way, which is to say that he doesn't care to define it at all for fear of offending somebody somewhere. In characteristic style, Goldberg straddles the fence – which, by now, should be intolerably painful to his nether regions – but perhaps that only serves to demonstrate that he simply doesn't have any.

In the service of a forthright clarification of terms, let's take a trip down Merriam-Webster Lane, shall we?

One who loves and supports his or her country

Okay, that's pretty simple. But what is a country?

1: an indefinite usually extended expanse of land: region
2a: the land of a person's birth, residence or citizenship
2b: a political state or nation or its territory
3a: the people of a state or district: populace
3b: jury
3c: electorate

Goldberg is surprisingly definite in stating that “country” equals “the people,” however. To wit:

Sometimes your country – i.e., the people – can do things that require the government to correct its citizens. That's why we have a Bill of Rights.

Sometimes “we the people” are wrong, and the individual is right.

“'My country, right or wrong” like saying, 'My mother, drunk or sober.'”


had a hard time figuring out where he's going with this, unless his point is to go nowhere at all. Call me dense, but reading this screed was like trying to find my way out of the doctor's office yesterday. There were so many twists, turns and cubicles in the way, I felt like a lab rat in a labyrinth, without so much as a lick of liederkranz to entice me toward the exit.

Despite my confusion, I did manage to conclude that Goldberg is infatuated with the definition of “patriot” (and, by extension, its variations of -ic and -ism) without regard to the definitions of “love,” “support” or “country.” Indeed, as Merriam-Webster indicates above, there are many definitions of “country,” but in political discussion, one should consider that our country is an amalgam of all of them, wrapped neatly and securely in the parchment known as the Constitution.

A patriot, therefore, is one who loves and supports this entire package. Goldberg, however, maintains that “...patriotism is a simple concept in the abstract – 'love of country' – but it can be complicated in its application.” Well, in and of itself, “love” is hardly complicated at all, despite a social media tendency to include a classification of “it's complicated” when declaring one's personal relationship status.

The definition of “love” is quite eloquent in its simplicity: “an intense feeling of deep affection.” It demonstrates a genuine admiration and appreciation of the positive qualities of its object. In human love, this may include personal character traits like honesty, kindness or generosity, coupled with mutual likes (or dislikes) and common interests.


ove of country – a/k/a Patriotism – is essentially the same, in that we hold dear the best and most honorable traits of it. We who consider ourselves Patriots deeply appreciate our freedom. We admire our Founding Fathers for their courage, and for their intelligence, discretion and simplicity when they drafted our Constitution – the document that preserves our freedom and binds us together as a nation. We feel the deep affection for our country with each surge of emotion at the sight of our flag.

Supporting this object of our affections – our Country – is to “uphold or defend (it) as valid or right.” No matter what missteps we as a nation have taken along the way, our momentum has always been forward in advancing the cause of freedom. Thus we take care to preserve and protect the principles on which it was founded, defending them in the courts when necessary, and in battle when required.


oldberg should take note that, once you actually have the courage to study the concept of “patriotism,” it's easy to coin a word “for the person who doesn't have special affection for our country that isn't freighted with negative connotations.” That word is simply “citizen.” Or, if you want to split hairs even further, an inhabitant. Either way, it's nicely obscure, which suits Goldberg's purposes perfectly.