Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Shadowland: "Spectator Patriotism"

Wars of Hate
America's conflicts are fought mostly by people who have come from the powerless classes.

Updated: 5:35 p.m. ET Oct. 11, 2005

Oct. 11, 2005 - On or about Dec. 30, 2002, which was a day after we’d had dinner in New York and a year to the day before he died of a heart attack, John Gregory Dunne put a floppy disk in an envelope and dropped it off at the Manhattan apartment where I was staying. As happens, I misplaced it in my travels after that, and only last weekend did I find it and read the digital newspaper clippings he’d pulled together, which he’d talked about with so much excitement at our dinner.
John was interested in patriotism. He was fascinated by the real substance of it, which he saw as diametrically opposed to what he called “the spectator patriotism” exploited by the Bush administration as it went looking for wars. There was something (it took a while for John to put his finger on it) in the fact that several people he knew had children on active duty: historian Doris Kearns had a son, John himself had a nephew, I had a son. We had people we loved in uniform doing what they saw, and we understood, imperfectly perhaps, as their duty to defend the values and the dreams that are the United States of America. But why were there so few from this circle of acquaintances if the cause was so great?...

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