Article Comment 

Letter to the Editor: Of patriotism and 'fat cats'




Just as cooks like to combine seemingly incompatible flavors into tasty and agreeable dishes, I enjoy making apparently opposite ideas into productive or provocative thought.  


Take for example two recent OPINIONS which appeared in The Dispatch, the first being "Is EMCC back in the Country Club mix?" (July 3) and the second being "The better angels of our nature" (July 4).  


The earlier OPINION states that one board member of the EMCC (East Mississippi Community College) said there was opposition to "bailing out the fat cats." In The Dispatch's view, spite perhaps was a gratifying element for those EMCC board members who preferred to let the Columbus Country Club fall into ruin in order to get even with "the privileged few who, for years, lorded it over their less affluent neighbors." But as The Dispatch explained, that wouldn't work because the "fat cats" could still "sneer at the great unwashed ... from the verandahs of their great estates." In conclusion, the newspaper's OPINION is that the "anti-elitist groundswell is probably overstated" even though it would be nice for all Columbus residents to have access to property which was "once the exclusive domain of those you know-whats." I am not making up these comments; they were printed in The Dispatch, the newspaper devoted to bringing people together.  


The July 4 OPINION, "The better angels of our nature," declares that "any school child will tell you that [The Declaration of Independence] was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776." Wanna bet on the schoolchildren? But we are informed that no idea "has been more badly abused" than "the concept of patriotism." The Dispatch believes that "Patriotism has been corrupted and co-opted, distorted and exaggerated, commercialized and, most grievously of all, politicized." I continued reading the piece hoping to learn The Dispatch's full definition of patriotism. Sad to say, I was out of luck. Instead, we were treated to a sermon about how a very poorly identified love of one's country has been corrupted. We were told that today the idea of patriotism "seems to be according (sic) no reverence at all." By whom? Who was it who said "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country"?  


The newspaper concludes, in a whiny, scolding way, that scoundrels wrap themselves "in a flag," but that we Americans should "respect each other's love of our country." Naturally Lincoln must be quoted in order to appeal to "the better angels of our nature." "We are not enemies, but friends," he urged.  


Now, where were we? Are the "fat cats" to be our enemies or our friends? Are we to be divided by self-righteous demagogues into "the great unwashed" and "the privileged few"? Tell me about that America! How will it work?  


By the way, I am not now nor have I ever been a member of a Country Club. However, I am a card carrying member of Sam's Club.  


Ben C. Toledano 





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