America has been fortunate to escape the continental European pattern of patriotic sentiment, in which local and particular loyalties are viewed as an impediment to devotion to the nation and must therefore be subdued at nearly any cost. Helping people in their community live with what this country has asked them to do makes a pretty good one.
Patriotism is a natural consequence of political membership or citizenship, and it is not clear where—other than membership itself—the duties of patriotism originate or what justifies them other than that membership, for patriotism is not voluntarily assumed as general political obligations are presumed to be. To deny or renounce patriotism or to act contrary to what its proponents deem appropriate is to be disloyal.
This distinction could be very useful as a basis for further research on ‘nationalism' and could provide insight into new aspects of the problem. Throughout, emotions play a much larger role than reason or thinking generally, and the strongest emotion evoked by patriotism is the pleasure of belonging to a cooperative social community where everyone is concerned with the fate of others.
In a February American Prospect article, Harvard's Robert Putnam, prominent chronicler of growing American alienation and declining social capital, reports that Americans are now Bowling Together"—or at least that we say we are in this together'd like to do so. A December 2001 Pew Research Center poll found that 78 percent of Americans now say religion's influence in society is growing, up from 37 percent who said so a few months prior to the attacks.
Throughout, I adopt the American practice of using "nationalism" to refer to THEIR patriotism and the more positive and upbeat term "patriotism" to speak about OUR nationalism. I am against any nationalism, even in the guise of mere patriotism. In addition, a new national organization, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), emerged after the Spanish-American War.