Jingoism sells and the peddlers profit

Most Americans are exposed to jingoism on a routine basis, but many cannot define the term. Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary: Jingoism is the feelings and beliefs of people who think that their country is always right and who are in favor of aggressive acts against other countries. While it is good to be proud of our country and support those who defend it, jingoism is as ugly in meaning as it sounds.

We are a people of imperfections, yet our forefathers were able to craft a government construct that is the envy of many. Our government construct lives up to and supports our ideals and democracy. The problem has always been we have imperfect people who lead the country and their biases and conflicts of interest cannot help from being exposed. Even though leaders try to hide their biases, with so much money influencing elections and decisions, their opinions will flip back and forth depending on who they’re talking with. *

However, many politicians, funders and pundits like to play the jingoism card to garner support and gain public sentiment on doing something that usually needs much due diligence. The reason is jingoism is sells. And, the peddlers of this naïve “we are the champions” mentality know this. It makes the peddlers richer or promotes a cause that will win votes. Jingoism is intended to influence people with simple concepts, when the issues are more complex. A few examples may help:

  • After 9/11, the White House portrayed anyone who differed with their plan to invade Iraq as unpatriotic. Although I voted for President Bush, this offended me. The band “The Dixie Chicks” were vilified for daring to speak out against invading Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. Yet, they were representing what is best about our country, the right to speak up against our leaders. By the way, looking backwards with 20/20 hindsight, they were right to question the invasion.
  • We have many politicians beating on their chests to use more ground troops to fight ISIL. ISIL wants this as they can make it about “an us against the west fight.” Yet, this has to be a coalition effort where we support Muslim countries fighting these terrorists. One of the challenges for Americans getting involved is this is an extremely complex situation. Our troops are valiant warriors, but they have thanked others for speaking up against sending them to fight unwinnable fights. In fact, they would use a common military phrase, saying fighting in countries with so many factions is a “clusterf**k.”
  • The commercials that play on our competitive nature are back saying we are number one in the production of natural gas and soon to be oil. The caring and earnest actress notes how safe hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is. This is to combat the mounting evidence to the contrary. Our energy future must involve the growing renewable energy industry more than it is now. Yet, these commercials and similar ones tout our number one status like it is a football game. This is one game which we don’t necessarily want to win, so we need to think about the best path forward.

I will leave it at these three examples, but there are many more. We are a great country, but we are not perfect and it is more than OK to speak about where we have dropped the ball and where we could do better. This year will be the 50th anniversaries of some very ugly events in our country around denying blacks the right to vote, so we should never forget this history to avoid it from happening again. We must question things and protest when things are out of sort.

Yet, the folks playing these jingoistic cards want to gain by creating and playing on our fears. The issues are more complex than portrayed. Jingoism sells and the peddlers tend to profit. We need to listen, but ask many more questions and hold people to answers. This is the patriotic thing to do. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

* Note: Please check out this excellent post by Roseylinn about Jonathan Swift who saw the lack of truth-telling in politicians  over four hundreds years ago. https://roseylinn.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/jonathan-swift/

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Jingoism sells and the peddlers profit

  1. A pretty good rule of thumb is that we should lend credence to a claim in inverse proportion to its emotional appeal. When people start waving flags brace yourself because the s##t is about to fly!

  2. Note to Readers: Speaking of those events that occurred 50 years ago, but were occurring throughout the Jim Crow era, if you have not seen “Selma,” I would encourage you to do so. The beatings, killings and denial of the right to vote came to head in this town in Alabama and led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I would also ask you to watch the documentary “Freedom Summer” about the events in Mississippi the summer before preceding the Civil Rights Act. These are examples of America at its worst and also at its finest. The worst being what they were fighting against (bigotry, hatred, intolerance) and the best being the many people of all faiths and colors who came to lend a hand and protest. Here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXsc-1Wur2w

  3. Thanks for the link to the quote I posted. The definition of Jingoism appears to be close to the definition of Fundamentalism: “A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.”

    Here is a 2006 Jimmy Carter quote about the Bush Administration that fits, ” And so this administration, for instance, has a policy of just refusing to talk to someone who is in strong disagreement with them — which is also a radical departure from past history.” He went on a bit later to say, “Unfortunately, after Sept. 11, there was an outburst in America of intense suffering and patriotism, and the Bush administration was very shrewd and effective in painting anyone who disagreed with the policies as unpatriotic or even traitorous. For three years, I’d say, the major news media in our country were complicit in this subservience to the Bush administration out of fear that they would be accused of being disloyal.”

    • Thanks for the Jimmy Carter quote. I agree with the complicit news media comment you make. At the time, my colleagues and I would question ourselves, “when did it become unpatriotic to disagree with our leaders?”

      I need to find the author of the book on this subject, but he noted we need to learn lessons from our failures – because we overreacted to 9/11, we underreacted to Syria.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s