At Wednesday night’s Boston Bruins game, the crowd of 17,500 came for more than hockey. They sang our national anthem—all of them—loud, proud and clear, drowning out the featured singer. Drive around Boston this week and you’ll see flags displayed on houses and businesses while the image of Samuel Adams is being shared on social media by Millennials who, up to now, had thought he was only a beer.
Bostonians and Americans are saddened and angered, but they are also defiant, determined and, dare I say, patriotic. Everywhere you turn, the media punditry is noting our national resilience in this moment of shared mourning. That makes us Americans, they say. That makes us exceptional.
They are correct, of course. We are a distinct, unique breed born of unified purpose versus ancient birthrights. Yet our public displays of patriotism won’t last; not in today’s climate. Despite the temporary reprieve, liberal elites will soon resume casting American Exceptionalism as a stale myth built on the backs of the poor and powerless.
In the meantime, the rest of us can come out of hiding and show our pride, hands over our hearts, tearing up to a chorus of “God Bless America.” This makes the hardliners queasy because they can’t square the fact that the American ethos of fighting tyranny is exactly what is at work right now. For them, it’s a quandary. How can patriotism in times of national tragedy fit into a narrative that we are little more than selfish xenophobes?
Fortunately, other than the leftists who are rooting for the Boston terrorists to be right-wing extremists, most of us just want justice: Islamic, neo-Nazi, anarchist, communist—we don’t care. We just want these murderous cowards caught and punished. Period.
By now you’ve probably seen the photos: Eight-year-old victim Martin Richard’s doleful smile as he holds a hand-drawn sign saying “PEACE.” Jeff Bauman, his face as grey as the shirt he had on, being wheeled to safety while exposed arteries and bone tissue hang in shreds on his bloody leg stumps.
First, we were horrified and heartbroken; now we are madder than hell. No apologies necessary. This is patriotism, pure and simple.