You know, when exactly did patriotism become such a hot-button issue around here? Well, I guess that's a dumb question as written; it always has been. It's obviously been pretty important since the existence of the modern concept of nation-states, but here and now it seems even more so than usual. Even during the infamous McCarthy trials, at least then the alleged traitors were being tied to a concrete, threatening enemy. But now?
Google "patriotism", and the first hit ties it explicitly into terrorism, the current war and flag-burning.* The second valid hit oozes a mood of defensiveness, quotes Ben Franklin and Martin Luther King Jr., and pleads with people to stand up for their civil rights. A Daily Kos diary is in the top 10 sites.
And the first site talking about patriotism to a country besides America is the twentieth. And that site is talking about what is wrong with it.
Right-wing pundits question the patriotism of liberals left and right. (Er, no pun intended.) It's ad hominem rather than relevant, and almost never based on facts. But it's hard to see why it matters quite so much. I mean, I'm sorry to sound like my mother, but when someone insults you - so what? Especially if it's a content-free insult. Defensiveness is needed, to judge by how many people out there agree with the conservative pundits, but really, who cares if someone says you don't love your country? More to the point, who cares if you don't love your country? Does it affect your fitness to do your job? Is there no state of mind possible in between "love" and "hate"? Tendency to treason or something ridiculous like that - do people go around killing everyone they don't love?
See, this might say something about my interpersonal skills. Sometimes I have a sense of what is undiplomatic and stupid to say, and even then I say it. :)
* All this applies to mid-July when I wrote the bulk of this post. There have been some changes to the Google rankings since then, or course.