Patriotism Is a Mental Disorder
by Fred Reed
Patriotism is everywhere thought to be a virtue rather than a mental disorder. I don’t get it.
If I told the Rotarians or an American Legion hall that “John is a patriot,” all would approve greatly of John. If I told them that patriotism was nothing more than the loyalty to each other of dogs in a pack, they would lynch me. Patriotism, they believe, is a Good Thing.
Of course the Japanese pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor were patriots, as were the German soldiers who murdered millions in the Second World War. The men who brought down the towers in New York were patriots, though of a religious sort. Do we admire their patriotism?
Of course not. When we say “John is a patriot,” we mean “John is a reliable member of our dog pack,” nothing more. The pack instinct seems more ancient, and certainly stronger, than morality or any form of human decency. Thus, once the pack – citizenry, I meant to say – have been properly roused to a pitch of patriotism, they will, under cover of the most diaphanous pretexts, rape Nanking, bomb Hiroshima, kill the Jews or, if they are Jews, Palestinians. We are animals of the pack. We don’t admire patriotism. We admire loyalty to ourselves.