I always dread Memorial Day and the Fourth of July somewhat, mainly because I live in a small rural, agriculture-based Midwestern town (I hope that’s a sufficient description to make my point) and always end up hearing tripe about how America is a Christian nation, with all the arguments that followed. Our pastor was on vacation, so the message given by a lay member was basically the obligatory history lesson – Did you know that John Jay advised early U.S. citizens to “select and prefer Christians for their rulers”? Did you know that Patrick Henry said, “America was not founded by religionist but by Christians. It was not founded upon religions but upon the gospel of Jesus Christ”? And so forth. The other claim that I found rather peculiar was the insinuation, never quite made explicit, that the Great Awakening was one of (if not the primary) the movements that influenced the creation of the U.S., which struck me as rather odd given some of the obvious Enlightenment ideals sprinkled in our early documents (it doesn’t take much to see Thomas Jefferson’s co-option of Locke’s phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of property”).
But enough of my gripes. Bill Vallicella over at Maverick Philosopher has scrounged up an old entry entitled Patriotism and Jingoism that expresses much of my own frustration with this time of year in my little area of the world. Everyone should be familiar with the terms Vallicella explicates in this entry.