Bob and Steve, here. Veterans Day is right around the corner. Ahhh, Veterans Day. A day for unbridled patriotism.
Oops. The P-word. We probably should have just tapped the backspace button and rid ourselves of the offending word, but instead here we are forging brashly ahead.
Patriotism has become a divisive issue in our country. Or course, just about everything has become a divisive issue these days. Don’t believe us? Consider Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, which announced it was pulling down a memorial plaque to George Washington, one of its founding members, saying he and another famous parishioner, Robert E. Lee, have become so controversial that they are chasing away would-be parishioners. A plaque. To our country’s first president! Even the media coverage is divisive– playing up or down the church’s actions, depending on their audience.
Soon, it seems that every American institution, achievement and tradition will be a bone of contention, a matter that demands we choose sides and prepare for pitched battle. Lunar Landing – great leap forward for mankind or round one of man’s sullying the surface of the moon. Presidential Turkey Pardon – light hearted Thanksgiving tradition or crony justice for the top turkey 1%. Groundhog Day – high precision climatological forecasting or heartless exploitation of groundhogs.
We want to get to the bottom of this issue starting with patriotism, so of course we turn to science (ooooo, sciiiiiience). Here we’ll employ the science of Etymology, which is the study of Etyms, which are tiny particles of matter that form the building blocks of most of the really dumb things that people are prone to say when making statements in the media. There are also particles that are the building blocks of intelligent things that people say in the media, but they quickly decay into more-common Etyms once released to the media.
Employing the science (ooooo, sciiiience) of etymology – Patriotism, from the root Patriot, is derived from the Middle French Patriote which harks back to the Latin Patriota. Patriota is a combination of the words patronizing and riot, or at least that’s how it’s interpreted by people who find that most words derive from words meaning things like patronizing and riot.
This explains a lot. Let’s take a look…
The former First Lady lecturing people on who they should and shouldn’t vote for – patronizing. Hissy fits over invited university speakers with opposing views – riot. Kneeling during the national anthem – patronizing. Angry mobs pulling down statues – riot.
Some of these examples warrant greater scrutiny. Take the kneeling phenomena. We at Orthogonal Catholic are firm believers that kneeling is the proper position during certain parts of the Mass and when proposing marriage, but never during the national anthem. Of course it may all be a big misunderstanding. It could be that there have been wildly coincidental occurrences of the highly paid athletes all losing their contact lenses at the same time leading to frantic searches in the AstroTurf. Equally likely is a wave of sudden awareness that their shoelaces aren’t properly tied and they’re bending over to determinedly go through the painstaking steps of forming perfect bunny ears and double knots. But somehow, we doubt that.
Veterans Day also gets us thinking about monuments. Thank heavens that monuments at least haven’t become divisive. Oh– nevermind. We think it’s splendid that so many monuments are suddenly under attack by a small number of perpetually offended people. It’s democracy in action, right? Perhaps we can replace monuments and plaques of figures like Columbus, Washington and Lincoln, with uniquely gifted humanitarians like Mao, Chavez and Castro – now there’s a celebration of democracy.
But seriously now, the Orthogonal Catholic wants to thank all of the veterans for their service to our great nation. We salute you, we stand for our flag and national anthem, and we respect our national history – warts and all, because the great accomplishments of the “all” far outweigh the “warts”.