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Knee-jerk patriotism is no laughing matter

Adlai Stevenson
Adlai Stevenson

“What do I mean by patriotism in the context of our times? … a sense of national responsibility … a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”    – Adlai Stevenson


Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)

Senator Tom Cotton sure is a whipper-snapper. Only two months on the job, and he got 47 U.S. senators to sign a letter to Iranian mullahs warning them against negotiating a nuclear-arms deal with President Obama.

Were the act not so appalling, it would be laughable. In fact, The Daily Beast reveals that some Republican aides actually considered the letter as a “lighthearted” and “cheeky” reminder to Iran and the public that Congress has the prerogative to negate such a deal. Said one GOP aide, “The administration has no sense of humor when it comes to…these negotiations.”

And therein lies the problem. Republicans in Congress are on a joyride, recklessly mowing down our country without a care in the world. Fueled by their hatred for President Obama, they show total disrespect for the American people and the nation we stand for. They toy with threats of legal action, impeachment, and government shutdown as if dangling keys in front of a baby. They put up roadblocks to confirming cabinet and judicial appointments and dicker with funding for, of all things, Homeland Security. They put the brakes on everything pertaining to the Affordable Care Act, immigration policy, infrastructure overhaul, jobs creation, education, and climate change. And when they’re not obstructing progress, they’re screwing us in the back seat with efforts to oppress women, workers, gays, minorities, and the poor.

This is not the American way. It is not what our pioneers blazed trails to build or what our patriots have gone into battle to defend. “True” Americans don’t go behind their president’s back and break with more than two centuries of diplomatic protocol just to prove a point—especially one that could lead to more war and death.

The American way is to resolve our nation’s political disagreements through civil discourse, negotiation, and compromise. And we have laws, mores, and philosophical standards to guide our behavior both at home and abroad. Those are the virtues on which we have built our national legacy and our international reputation. Those are the reasons we’ve always been able to stand proud as a people.

But with one irrational “stroke of the pen,” Republicans managed to undermine our stature in the world. For in his scathing reply to the senators, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, dismissed their letter as propaganda and then schooled them on international law.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

“The authors,” said Zarif, “may not fully understand that in international law, governments…are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.”

And there you have it. Thanks to their high-school-aged prank, Republicans just gave Zarif and Iran the last laugh. Not exactly
the act of patriots.

LindaK View All

A lifelong communicator, I'm pretty sure I came out of the womb talking. But with no siblings to chat and play with, I learned to express myself in writing. My subsequent birth as a politics junkie came while I watched my father, a career Marine, sob uncontrollably over Kennedy's assassination. Intuitively, I knew the world would never be the same, and I should pay attention. So I did.

Now, some 50 years later, I find myself dumbfounded by the trajectory of American politics and the prevalence of ignorance, bigotry, hate, and violence. I started Two Cents of Sense, hoping to help change that trajectory and to promote progressives' conversation, knowledge sharing, and actions.


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