The Home Front: Land That They Love

Patriotism and its symbols dominate the debate over the gulf war as both sides emphasize concern for the soldiers and for the fate of the nation

Of all ennobling sentiments, patriotism may be the most easily manipulated. On the one hand, it gives powerful expression to what is best in a nation's character: a commitment to principle, a willingness to sacrifice, a devotion to the community by the choice of the individual. But among its toxic fruits are intolerance, belligerence and blind obedience, perhaps because it blooms most luxuriantly during times of war. Tyrants know this. It was Hitler's henchman Hermann Goring who noted that "all you have to do is tell people they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing...

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