Paul Krugman and Hatriotism
Yesterday while almost all Americans were recalling 9/11 with sadness, mixed with pride for the heroism and self-sacrifice amply displayed by so many of their fellow citizens that dark day, economist Paul Krugman in his blog, hilariously entitled Conscience of a Liberal, at the, where else, New York Times, posted this:
The Years of Shame
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?
Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.
What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.
A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?
The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.
I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.
I guess one reason Krugman disabled comments was to prevent people noting the typos and poor grammar displayed in this short blog post. Another reason is because commenters would have pointed out that what he had just done was the blog equivalent of going to a funeral and spitting on the coffin.
I do give Krugman credit, however, in that his blog post is a fine example of hatriotism, a hatred of one’s country, that is popular among a fair number of elites in this country and in Europe. They regard patriotism as dangerous and retrograde. They sneer at any manifestations of it, assume that others cannot really be patriots and must have some ulterior motive and always can be counted upon to assume the very worst about their country and their fellow citizens who do not share their disdain for the land of their birth.
The Church of course views patriotism differently. Paragraph 2240 of the Catechism states:
2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country:
Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.45
[Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners. . . . They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws. . . .
So noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it.46
The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who exercise authority, “that we may lead a quiet and
peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.”47
As for America, Pope Benedict has a keen appreciation of the role America has played in the world:
From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has
been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social
life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the
Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this
conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are
created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature
and of nature’s God. The course of American history demonstrates the
difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which
were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble
principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious
beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the
struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too,
particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in
a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations.
In the next few days, I look forward to meeting not only with
America’s Catholic community, but with other Christian communities and
representatives of the many religious traditions present in this country.
Historically, not only Catholics, but all believers have found here the freedom
to worship God in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, while at the
same time being accepted as part of a commonwealth in which each individual and
group can make its voice heard. As the nation faces the increasingly complex
political and ethical issues of our time, I am confident that the American
people will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and an
inspiration to pursue reasoned, responsible and respectful dialogue in the
effort to build a more humane and free society.
Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal
responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this
country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense
of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the
cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a
sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage
to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to
reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held
out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good
Salvi, 24). Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John
Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism
in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows,
time and again, that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation”,
and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus,
46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President
Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality
represent “indispensable supports” of political prosperity.
In regard to Mr. Krugman and the other purveyors of hatriotism, my deepest emotion is one of pity. Going through life eaten up by hate is a very poor way to live. Sir Walter Scott said it best long ago:
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath
This is my own, my native land?
Whose heart hath ne’er within him
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as
wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonor’d, and