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George Lipsitz and Patriotism

George Lipsitz writes about the development of the idea of patriotism and how it was changed or used in the 1970s and 1980s by political and other groups in America with reference to the ongoing debates concerning such issues as the North American Free Trade Agreement, immigration policies, and the role of U.S. troops in overseas conflicts. He links patriotism with the prevailing image of national identity or with some ideal of national identity held out by one group or another. Lipsitz reaches back to an essay on the 1915 D.W. Griffith film for an image of the family in jeopardy to explain the way patriotism is often used--"Griffith's film fashioned a new narrative of national unity and obligation based upon connections between patriotism and patriarchal protection" (Lipsitz 252). This is the way Lipsitz says neoconservative politics has articulated patriotism since the 1970s. It is clear that patriotism has been defined and redefined by neoconservatives over the past two decades in terms of specific national symbols so that accepting and protecting those symbols is proof of something deeper that we call patriotism. Among these symbols are the American flag and the pledge of allegiance, and how both are trotted out as proof of something important in the American character always involves defining those who disagree as the non-patriotic or not-quite-patriotic-enough Other.

Much of this patriotism emerges in imagery used by different political leaders, such as that used by ronald Reagan in the example of ceremonies in 1984 commemorating the 40th anniversary of World War II. Such imagery is a case of appealing to private interests as motivation for public obligation, using the private family as an image and a rationale for public service. Patriotism serves a purpose for political leaders, such as Ronald Reagan, by creating an image that can be projected to the voters, an image of "reverent patriotism and confident nationalism...

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George Lipsitz and Patriotism. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:01, June 02, 2020, from