True Patriotism.


After doing some research on President Jefferson some time ago, I came across various websites with Jefferson quotes. All the ones on the top of the search are all echos of the Left. They all quote only one particular Jefferson quote: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” There are shirts, buttons, and bumper stickers galore. It is the proof that all from the Left can question anything the Bush administration does. After all, if President Jefferson said it, it's as good as being in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Look at the Jefferson "Wall of Separation" quote and it's usage. It holds up in courts.

Now we find out the truth. According to the Jefferson Library site, he never said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” He also never said, "When the government fears the people, there is liberty; When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." Boomshagalaga! Jefferson's Library states:

"There are a number of quotes that we do not find in Thomas Jefferson's correspondence or other writings; in such cases, Jefferson should not be cited as the source. Among the most common of these spurious Jefferson quotes are: 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' "

It was all over the press after Senator Kerry used the quote and said it was from Jefferson. I think Tim Blair from Australia noticed it first. Mark Stein also noticed it. Craig from RapidRecon had it as well. So did the New York Sun and the Chicago Sun Times. It is well used by the Left as attacks against President Bush. Mark Stein notes some:

America’s hardboiled newsmen can’t get enough of the Thomas Jefferbunk. The Berkshire Eagle used it as the headline for last year’s Fourth of July editorial. Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press thundered: “We need to stop slicing this country in half, and saying those who support this act or this politician are ‘good’ Americans, and the rest are not. Sometimes ‘dissent is the highest form of patriotism.’ I didn’t make that up. Thomas Jefferson did."

Er, no. You made up that he made it up. But former Georgia state Rep. Mike Snow uses it, and Miranda Yaver of Berkeley wore it on a button to the big anti-war demo in Washington last year, and Ted Kennedy deployed it as the stirring finale to his anti-Bush speech:

"It is not unpatriotic to tell the truth to the American people about the war in Iraq. In this grave moment of our country, to use the words of Thomas Jefferson, ‘Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.’

Jim Lindgren at Volokh notes that Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw shows the quote probably did not come from Howard Zinn as some had thought. Zinn did indeed use it in an interview with You know Zinn? The one who said,

"When people refuse to obey, then democracy comes alive."


“We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.”

To that I remember the great quote of John Stewart Mill:

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

Volokh finds the misquoted quote to most likely be from "Dorothy Hewitt Hutchinson, a dissenter and strict pacifist who opposed World War II as immoral, but who made a point of ignoring dissent when it was directed toward herself. To her critics and those who dissented from her views, Hutchinson's response was not to 'budge one inch.'" Her exact words from a Nov. 11, 1984 Philadelphia Inquirer obit are from an interview from 1965,

"Dissent from public policy can be the highest form of patriotism. I don't think democracy can survive without it, even though you may be crucified by it at times."

Nadine Strosser, President of the ACLU, is one of the 1st pre 9/11 users of the quote. She used it several times on CNN and FOX in the 90s. In a June 2, 1991 Boston Globe interview she complains about comments made by President Bush 1:

"I think that the ACLU really got a bum rap, in particular from George Bush, during the last presidential campaign.[I] t is an organization that is not ideological, that is not partisan, that doesn't have a liberal or conservative agenda, but a neutral civil-liberties agenda. But even more, I think there was a suggestion that it's somehow unpatriotic not only to be an ACLU member; Bush went even further and suggested there's something inherently unpatriotic about free speech. That we're in favor of flag-burning, and therefore must be anti-American. And I do think that what Thomas Jefferson said is true, 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.'"

But it wasn't President Jefferson. So now the weight of the Left's call to arms is gone. Gone is the idea that the strength to use dissent was quoted as Patriotism from the original group of dissenters who formed our great country. How painful that must be for those poor fellas. Ouchies. One might respond, "Well, it's still true even if Jefferson didn't say it." Indeed. But you can't say, "Let dissension be the highest form of Patriotism as it was quoted to be by the Founding Fathers." Not much weight without that, is there?

Craig at rapid recon also notes that Mark Stein,

[Stein] is less than congenial toward a crowd that would embrace an open call for anti-Americanism. Not that presenting one’s point of view and trying to persuade others to accept that point of view is bad, but attacking America without offering alternatives or a better way to get there (wherever “there” may be) is just whining. Where’s your plan? And could it possibly be that you actually stand for nothing? Convince us otherwise and that would restore some honor to politics.

What does it mean when so many senior Democrats take refuge in an obvious bit of hooey? Thomas Jefferson would never have said anything half so witless. There is no virtue in dissent per se. When John F. Kennedy said, “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty” — and, believe it or not, that’s a real quote, though it’s hard to imagine any Massachusetts Democrat saying such a thing today — I could have yelled out, “Hey, screw you, loser.” It would have been “dissent,” but it wouldn’t have been patriotic, and it’s certainly not a useful contribution to the debate, any more than that of the University of North Carolina students at Chapel Hill who recently scrawled on the doors of the ROTC armory “F—- OFF!” and “WE WON’T FIGHT YOUR WARS!”

A real Jefferson quote is “Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. education and free discussion are the antidotes of both.” Please give a speech where you discuss a plan, and avoid any attacks on the other guy. I expect that you will find this impossible since your party can only agree on one thing - “Bush is bad, mmkay.”

Yikes! That is painful. So Dissent is NOT the highest form of Patriotism. Oh well. I suppose the Left could change over and start using the Susan B Anthony quote, “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” Oh wait. That involves Christianity, religion, and the influential founding Colonists. We can't touch that one. Maybe if we change the "God" to "Allah". That might be acceptable..

I do like this President Kennedy quote that is from the speech he was supposed to give in Dallas, TX on 11-22-1963, the day he was killed. You can find the entire speech at the JFK library.

"There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility."

Dissidence, opposition, fault-finding, perceiving gloom, and "seeking influence without responsibility." Hmmm. Sounds familiar. Maybe the Left should quote that one.;-)

The Armiger Cromwell Center has more insight into what Patriotism means in today's society.

Were those that signed our Declaration of Independence patriots? Today we would say they were. However, this is because their conduct gave birth to our country. They were loyal to an unborn nation. But they were not loyal to their country - which was England. From the English point of view they certainly were not patriots. This illustrates the fact that patriotism depends on where loyalty is placed. Today those loyal to the United States would see patriotism differently than those loyal to self-interests, a political party, an ideology, or the United Nations. And to defend self-interest in the name of patriotism is indeed the last refuge of a scoundrel.

I did try to dissent a dissenter at He claimed his site was all about "all views", but would never print my letter in the Letters section. He finally got back to me after I emailed him the same thing for 9 months before he replied. He called me a few names but would still not print a letter that had an opinion different than his own. He had the misquote from Jefferson as well. The whole thing I have documented here. I make the exact argument as the Armiger Cromwell Center. Who is the patriot in the Civil War? During the 1990s one could easily say that Newt Gingrich was a Patriot (on the Left's version of the word). How about with the Texas situation with Mexico? Or the slaughter of thousands of Indians in our country in the 19th and 20th centuries? How about the takeover in Hawaii? Many of these questions are answered differently by different people depending on how one was brought up (family values), where you lived, what ethnicity you family is, and what age one is (what era were you when these events took place in your family).

Finally he sent me an email with the heading "True Patriotism." There was a link to this shorty here at thebattleforamerica. The shorty is actually from here. Here's a transcript. It's all about a few people crying about the Bush administration without naming it or him directly. The people are a sad, sad, lot. Almost as bad a bunch of losers as the folks who posted at Those uneducated dweebs posted pictures of themselves holding cards with apologies written on them to other countries. "We're sorry President Bush won in 2004." Boohoo. Woah is me. Uneducated buffoons could have done the same thing in 1996. "We're sorry Clinton got back in and he's letting us be raped by Enron, Adelphia, Bell South, Tyco, and WorldCom." "We're sorry you're retirement is gone." "We're sorry there's no affordable electricity in California." Etc. But any way... Back to the shorty that is "True Patriotism." A few quotes from it:

"Our country that's been stolen away from us. Captured by those who traffic in fear, and hatred, and bigotry, and poison. We're down the rabbit hole and there is no end in sight. I know you all feel the same sentiments. The rage against the unanswerable abyss, the terror of what lies ahead, the confusion of what this nation has become."

Ok. Don't speak for me. We don't all feel the same sentiments. Oh wait. You speak for all those who would actually watch this propaganda and believe it. The movie only gets worse.

I will not attempt to glide over the monumental disaster that was this election. There is no silver lining. There is no redemption. The illusion of hope in this last year has been mercilessly stripped away. The monster we face is now unleashed, and free to wreak havoc and spill the blood of innocents. We are in a dark place. Perhaps the darkest place. Unable to even conceive of the idea of light.

ROFL! The 2004 election was only a disaster for 48.3% of Americans. And that is the voting public. So now we're talking about 48% of 50% of America. That's 59,028,111 people out of the total 295,734,134 of Americans. Isn't that like 20%? Ooooo. Yikes! And out of those there are many who are just voting Liberals who went on with their lives after voting. Not like the anti-Bush, Anarchists from the Left who have nothing better to do then frequent the Sorry and Battle sites. "Spilling the blood of innocents" is laughable. Since when are these people Pacifists? Seemed ok to do the same in Somalia, Croatia, etc. in the 1990s. Or maybe dropping the bomb on 250,000 innocents in Japan. Or the innocents in Dresden. But what the Democrats do is none of our business. We're talking about the Bush administration only when we talk generically. But now we're in the darkest place ever. Wow! I am very uninformed! I was unaware.

But we have been in such midnight moments before. We have been in the pits of Viet Nam and the hanging trees of Jim Crowe. We have despaired on the cotton fields of Mississippi and the breadlines of the depression. We've been beaten down by crooked cops, pushed around by factory bosses, terrorized by the Klan and the Fascists and the Nazis. And neonazis, and the fat cats, and robber barons, and the fraud politicians and wicked masters. But we have never surrendered. We have never weakened or wavered.

Well I won't blame the Johnson administration for the "pits or Viet Nam." We can though, of course. And now they are comparing the Bush administration (generically of course) to the Nazis, Fascists, KKK, slave owners, and crooked big business. They obviously don't know the real difference between the these groups socially and politically. And why care? They are doing all the work and getting none of the credit.

They shout out their pledges of allegiance but we do the dirty work of democracy. They claim to represent the real America, but we are the keepers of the tree of Liberty.

How poetic and not true. What exactly is the "Dirty work of democracy" anyway? Sounds good though.

President Abraham Lincoln had words for chronic complainers like this. People who thought they had to rise up and fight against the majority in the "Battle for America." From Lincoln's first inaugural speech,

“One party to a contract may violate it—break it, so to speak; but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?
A majority, held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it, does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible; the rule of a minority, as permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left…”

That says it all. It lays down the law from the Constitution itself. The majority is the only true sovereign in the US government. It requires a majority to lawfully rescind (repeal, remove, or to make void) current governmental conditions. And you ignore that and gather together the minority to reject those conditions, you end up with anarchy and despotism.
Free speech? Go for it. Even the hated KKK has that. But what these yo-yos are calling for is not Patriotism at all. It's Anarchy and despotism. Read 'em and weep.