Within this book, Omar Swartz discusses the New Patriotism that has risen in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States. Assuming that any society is only as good as the practices of its citizens, he discusses patriotism as a problem when it obscures this fundamental moral sentiment. Patriotism makes it difficult for our society to understand what we represent as a nation, making it difficult for us to live up to our own stated values of justice, tolerance, and freedom.
Given the on-going struggle for social justice – the continuing gravity and ugliness of the United States’ military and quasi-military activities abroad, and the increasingly successful effort among conservatives and the religious right to suppress dissents in the United States, Swartz considers it politically and morally necessary to reject quietism and the alienation that leads to political ineffectiveness. Here, he engages the twin phenomena of cruelty and greed and the moral myopia that often follows. Rather than accept these undesirable traits as ‘givens’ with which our society, or which any society, has to ‘put up with’ as part of human nature, these essays challenge us to see them instead as choices that we make about how to structure our society and our lives. The essays contained within this volume engage the principle that no necessary gap exists between the professional identity of critics, their moral beliefs, and their subjective commitments.