RUN ON DEC 10

This Day in History: December 10, 1948

British journalist G.K. Chesterton once wittily pointed out, “My country, right or wrong” is tantamount to saying, “My mother, drunk or sober”.

Critical thinking is a skill we must not turn off when evaluating the actions of our government. It was Israel’s prophets, who denounced the nation when it was sinking in self-destructive behavior, who loved Israel the most. Similarly, Americans who love their country must, of necessity, want the country to live up to its own ideals and must be disgusted when it doesn’t.

For quite some time, America has been ignoring its own ideals in a number of crucially important areas. This becomes painfully obvious when perusing the Universal Human Rights Declaration, which was published by the United Nations 70 years ago today, December 10, 1948. The Declaration spells out 30 articles of basic human rights that all nations ought to seek to protect for their citizens.

For example, Article 12 says, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

The Patriot Act, implemented during the early 2000s’ “War on Terror”, unjustifiably violated people’s privacy. The same can be said of standard TSA procedures at airports throughout America today. “Arbitrary interference” with people’s family and home is what characterizes the routine, Monday through Friday, operations of government agencies such as the Department of Human Services. In regularly leveling absurd and unfounded accusations against parents, with the aim being to take children into custody and make money by adopting them out, DHS by their very existence makes parents suffer attacks upon their “honor and reputation”.

State-sanctioned violations of the United Nation’s 1948 Human Rights Declaration are so routine as to hardly be newsworthy anymore. We must think critically. Patriotism doesn’t mean deference to authority that suspends the need to evaluate the moral decisions being made by those in authority. Whatever it means, it doesn’t mean mindless support of your country, right or wrong.

A healthy dose of cynicism towards the government is a good thing, and it’s certainly not an "anti-American" mindset. The founding fathers certainly had an innate distrust of government in their bones. Hence the various branches of government and the "balance of powers".

Murder doesn't cease to be murder just because it is sanctioned by the government. Kidnapping doesn't cease to be kidnapping just because it is carried out by government bureaucrats at DHS. Torture doesn't cease to be torture just because corrupt government agents try to re-brand it as "enhanced interrogation". God holds governments to the same standards he holds anyone else to; if anything, he holds them to a higher standard because more is at stake. The mistake made by the waitress at the local café could result in a botched lunch order; mistakes made by a government could result in countless innocent bloodshed and mass devastation.

Owning up to America's glaring shortcomings isn't an "unpatriotic" thing to do. It is an act of love towards America to want her misdeeds to be known. If they are not known, they cannot be repented of, and if they cannot be repented of, they cannot be truly gotten rid of, which means America can't grow and improve as a nation. Patriotism doesn't mean looking at the country naively through rose-colored glasses. It means being honest. As Mark Twain said, "Patriotism means supporting your country all the time and supporting your government when it deserves it."