What exactly does it mean to be a patriot? – American Patriot Series
Specialists say it’s hard to specify
For numerous, being considered a patriot is as American as it gets.
Of the millions of words in the English language, the word “patriot” has long instilled a sense of pride in Americans. By definition, it indicates “one who enjoys and supports his or her nation,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. One expert informed CNN calling someone a “patriot” brings with it a greater level of pride and respect, putting an individual on par with the founders of this country who are seen as the original patriots. American Patriot Series.
It’s a word that’s expected to bring marriage and delight, but throughout history, it’s also divided and left out people. American Patriot Series.
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In modern-day times, conspiracy theorists and extremists – consisting of some members of the groups who participated in the Capitol riots on January 6 – have actually latched on to the word “patriot” as a method to describe individuals who are purely American and (generally) White. Those who are not patriotic are against the US and everything it stands for, making them the opponent. American Patriot Series.
” It’s a rhetorical game with sometimes life and death consequences,” said Michael Edison Hayden, senior investigative press reporter and representative for the Southern Hardship Law Center (SPLC), an Alabama-based non-profit that tracks hate groups and their activities.
At the same time, the word is still utilized in popular culture to show the heroes of America, who were by the way combating against individuals who they deemed weren’t American. An advanced search on IMDb finds a minimum of 94 popular movie and TV show titles that relate to “patriot” or “patriotism.”.
So what makes “patriots” such a unifying, yet divisive word at the same time? Here’s a look at the history of it and its context. American Patriot Series.
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Patriot is stemmed from a French word
Like many words, patriot does not have English origins.
It’s stemmed from the Greek word “patrios,” which indicates “of one’s dad.” Patriot went into the English lexicon through the French word “patriote,” meaning “fellow compatriot” or “compatriot,” according to Merriam-Webster.
There’s never ever been any arguments about patriot’s literal meaning, but it’s context – usually political – is what has actually altered gradually, according to Kristen Syrett, associate professor of linguistics at Rutgers University/New Brunswick. American Patriot Series.
During the 17th century, a patriot in Europe was somebody who enjoyed their country and agreed with the recognized government and/or religion, Merriam Webster’s essay on the word states.
The word then changed in meaning and undertone as infighting in Europe resulted in the development of brand-new countries, like America.
” This word had kind of switched from a fan of recognized government to somebody who is against an established government,” stated Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster. American Patriot Series.
Throughout the American Revolution, patriot had a favorable undertone in America, but an unfavorable one in England, Sokolowski stated. It’s because of this that the founding fathers are seen as the embodiment of patriotism.
” It kind of made them religious figures,” Sokolowski said.
The unabridged definition of patriot in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary also says it is someone who belongs to a resistance group. That definition has actually not been upgraded in at least thirty years, Sokolowski said. American Patriot Series.
In the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the oldest in the world, an entry of patriot was modified in 2005 to state:.
” An opponent of presumed intervention by federal government in the affairs of individuals, esp. with respect to gun and tax laws. Frequently in the names of conservative libertarian political and militia groups.”.
A representative for Oxford’s Languages team told CNN in an email the meaning became part of a regular series of updates in 2005.
” The meaning in question is part of wide variety of nuanced uses of the word ‘patriot’ recorded in the (Oxford English Dictionary) and changes were made based upon evidence of how the word is used in daily life,” the declaration read.
The addition of conservative groups “traces the instructions the language is going,” Sokolowski said. American Patriot Series.
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Hate groups utilize ‘patriot’ for propaganda
Patriot in nativist, nationalistic and hate speech goes back to at least the mid-1800s to the Know Nothing Celebration, according to Sam Jackson, an assistant professor at the University at Albany who studies patriotism and violence in reactionary groups.
” That movement was organized around understanding that external influences – like non-White Europeans and others – were a threat to American values,” Jackson stated. “By the 1850s, we’re seeing language of patriotism and symbols being utilized in political ways and to mark individuals as ‘one of us and among them.'”.
The “us vs. them” mindset of patriotism would continue into the new century and morph into an idea that patriotism is American and anything not American is bad.
” If I state somebody is a true patriot, I have a clear idea of what that implies and what it suggests to not be a patriot,” said Syrett, the Rutgers professor. “This is a word that is really conditioned by what our set of values is and what we believe we’re fighting for.”.
The values of being a patriot for those who had nativist and nationalist ideologies meant that America preceded and foremost. Anyone versus that specific set of values was seen as a threat, even if that danger was the United States federal government.
The “America initially” conditions set the tone for the late 1980s and 90s when conspiracy theorists begin forming what is referred to as the Patriot Movement, an anti-government motion with White supremacist leanings, according to the SPLC. This movement culminated in the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19, 1995.
” The word patriot is frequently exploited by individuals that want to take advantage of this concept of a love for nation,” said Hayden, the SPLC senior investigative press reporter. “There is absolutely nothing incorrect with wanting to do great for your country, but when that passion is corrupted … that is taking good objectives and damaging them for the purpose of doing harm.”.
Some people who stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 called themselves patriots. American Patriot Series.
Former President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka have actually likewise utilized the word when referring to fans.
Ivanka Trump attended to the rioters as “American Patriots” in tweet from January 6 that she later erased.
Trump also called the rioters “terrific patriots” in a tweet on January 6. In July 2019, Trump defended participants of his Greenville, North Carolina, rally – where members of the crowd chanted “send her back” about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar – calling them “extraordinary patriots.”.
According to Jackson, the University at Albany professor, “When you say someone is a patriot, you’re stating there’s some goodness in them. It validates them.”. American Patriot Series.
Popular culture utilizes patriot to highlight America.
In popular culture, patriot can bring forth lots of images.
For some it could be the founding fathers or the generation around the American Transformation, like in the 2000 movie “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson. Others might consider United States soldiers fighting for flexibility, like those seen in 1998’s “Conserving Private Ryan.”.
Then there are those films where the characters embody America going against an adversarial force that represents a danger to American worths, much like 1985’s “Rocky IV” or the “Captain America” storyline in the Marvel Movies of the 2010s. American Patriot Series.
Being a patriot is “a word that attends to identity,” Sokolowski, of Merriam-Webster, said.
” Identity is a tremendously individual and political part of language,” he stated. “When it concerns identity, you’re getting to something that touches people deeply.”.
Syrett stated these movies and television programs depicting patriotism are a reflection of the times and reveal there is an audience for such content.
” Popular culture not only motivates a change in word meaning however it also capitalizes on a belief that exists on the wider public,” she said.
But there are likewise popular culture arguments around what makes up a patriot. American Patriot Series.
There are some, for example, who would call Colin Kaepernick a patriot. The former NFL star stimulated controversy after he beinged in protest during the nationwide anthem in 2016 for a pre-season video game, saying he would not honor a tune nor “reveal pride in a flag for a nation that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kaepernick’s demonstration was part of a continuing national argument about law enforcement’s unequal treatment of Black individuals.
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Still, others think that in taking a knee, Kaepernick disrespected America.
In the exact same vein, Syrett and Sokolowski stated there are some who would state the rioters at the US Capitol were patriots, while others may have seen them as terrorists. American Patriot Series.
Syrett said the discrepancy over who or what is a patriot is a fight of linguistics that has actually been fought given that the country’s starting – when it wasn’t even agreed upon on what it implied to be American.