Perhaps the simplest definition of patriotism is “love of one’s country.” But there are empirical and moral-religious difficulties with this definition. Both “love” and “country” are deeply ambiguous. With or without a miserable childhood, associations with a home place are likely to endure for life. The smell of creosoted piles and salt water can still reduce me to a swirl of nostalgia about my port-city birthplace: Norfolk, Virginia. But then the leap from affection for birthplace to affection for the “rocks and rills, the woods and templed hills” of land bounded by the Atlantic and Pacific coasts is quite another stretch of geographical patriotism.1 Finally, beyond both oceans are all the other places on this planet where humans live. Is there such a thing as global patriotism? For that matter, is there a love for America, an immigrant nation, uncomplicated by first generation nostalgia for the “old country”?
KeywordsMoral Imagination Personal Correspondence Facing Terrorism American Troop American Power
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