Politics 124 Spring 2005



Love of country is among the most powerful political emotions in the modern world. In the eyes of many, patriotism is among the noblest of human motives, requiring as it does self-sacrifice and the transcendence of base self-interest. In the opinion of others, patriotism is to be feared because it invites national and ethnic parochialism and promotes unthinking loyalty to military aggrandizement. In this course we will explore these conflicting views of patriotism, and ask whether it is possible to reconcile these two faces of patriotism by distinguishing between ethnic nationalism and civic patriotism.

The course is divided into three parts. First, we will consider the relationship between patriotism, citizenship, and service in the United States. Among the questions we will consider is whether we should bring back the military draft, or, failing that, whether there should be some sort of mandatory national service for all young people. In the second section of the course we will focus on arguments about patriotism, nationalism, and cosmopolitanism. We will be particularly interested in the question of whether attachment to humanity should come before attachment to country. In the final section of the course, we will examine the role of the United States flag in defining the scope of political loyalty and dissent, focusing particular attention on the legal questions surrounding flag desecration. We will also explore the history and function of the Pledge of Allegiance since its creation in 1892.

Students will be evaluated on the basis of class participation (35%) and three papers; the first of these papers will be worth 15%, the second paper 25%, and the final paper 25%. The class participation grade includes not only participation in class discussion but also various short response papers, in-class writing, and preparation of written questions, all of which are assignments designed to promote class discussion. The course is discussion based and thus it is vitally important that you do the reading for each class session. Students who miss a class, whether excused or unexcused, must write a 600 word paper analyzing the reading that was assigned for the day they miss. Your participation grade in the course will be lowered by 1/3 for every short paper you do not turn in within a week of your return to class. More than two unexcused absences will result in a full grade deduction from your final course grade; each additional unexcused absence will result in an additional deduction of one full grade from your final grade. Persistent lateness or failure to prepare adequately for class discussions can also result in deductions from the final grade.

Three required texts are available for purchase at the Willamette Bookstore. Other articles and chapters will mostly be available on electronic reserve at the Hatfield Library. Court cases are available electronically through LexisNexis. Some readings will be distributed in class. The books to be purchased are:

E.J. Dionne Jr, Kayla Meltzer Drogosz, and Robert E. Litan, eds. United We Serve: National Service and the Future of Citizenship (Brookings 2003)

Robert Justin Goldstein, ed. Desecrating the American Flag (Syracuse University Press, 1996)

Martha Nussbaum, For Love of Country? (Beacon Press, 2002)

1-1 (Jan 18) Introduction


(weeks 1-4)

1.2 (Jan 20) Did September 11 change us?

Dionne, United We Serve, 13-42, 90-93

2.1 (Jan 25) The Idea of National Service

Dionne, United We Serve, 45-86, 94-132

2.2 (Jan. 27) Bring Back the Draft?

Dionne, United We Serve, 133-53

3.1 (Feb 1) Service and Citizenship

Dionne, United We Serve, 166-205, 245-77

3.2 (Feb. 3) Serving God and Country

Dionne, United We Serve, 209-41

4.1 (Feb. 8) Peer Response

4.2 (Feb. 10) Paper #1 Due


(weeks 5-9)

5.1 (Feb 15) The Case Against Patriotism

Leo Tolstoy, "Patriotism or Peace: Letter to Manson (1896) and Patriotism and Government" (1900), in Leo Tolstoy, War-Patriotism-Peace, ed. Scott Nearing (Vanguard Press, 1927), 65-96

Emma Goldman, "Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty," available on-line at


5.2 (Feb. 17) Arguing About Patriotism

John Schaar, "The Case for Covenanted Patriotism," in Igor Primoratz, ed., Patriotism (Humanity Books, 2002), 233-57

6.1 (Feb. 22) Is Patriotism Like Racism?

Stephen Nathanson, "In Defense of Moderate Patriotism," in Igor Primoratz, ed., Patriotism (Humanity Books, 2002), 87-104

Paul Gomberg, "Patriotism is Like Racism," in Igor Primoratz, ed., Patriotism (Humanity Books, 2002), 105-112

Stephen Nathanson, "Is Patriotism Like Racism?" in Igor Primoratz, ed., Patriotism (Humanity Books, 2002), 113-19

6.2 (Feb. 24) Patriotism versus Cosmopolitanism

Martha Nussbaum, For Love of Country?, 3-44, 53-60

7.1 (March 1) Patriotism versus Cosmopolitanism II

Martha Nussbaum, For Love of Country?, 61-127

7.2 (March 3) Patriotism versus Cosmopolitanism III

Martha Nussbaum, For Love of Country?, 131-44, ix-xiv

8-1 (March 8) Peer Response

8-2 (March 10) Can a Good Reporter be a Good Patriot?

"Journalism and Patriotism," Newshour with Jim Lehrer, November 6, 2001, transcript at:


9.1 (March 15) Paper #2 Due

9.2 No class (March 17)

Spring Break: March 22, 24


(weeks 10-15)

Flag Desecration

10-1 (March 29) Texas v. Johnson: Is Flag Burning Constitutional

Goldstein, Desecrating the American Flag, 138-54, 158-79

10-2 (March 30) The Flag as Art and as Decoration

Steven C. Dubin, "Rally Round the Flag," in Arresting Images: Impolitic Art and Uncivil Actions (Routledge, 1992), 102-24

Goldstein, Desecrating the American Flag, 155-58

11-1 (April 5) Should We Amend the Constitution to Prohibit Flag Burning?

Goldstein, Desecrating the American Flag, 180-88, 195-98, 233-40, 256-66, 285-324

Pledging Allegiance to the Flag

11-2 (April 7) Why we Pledge Allegiance: The History

Cecelia O'Leary, To Die For: The Paradox of American Patriotism (Princeton University Press, 1999), 150-93.

12-1 (April 12) Dissenting from the Pledge

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) 319 U.S. 624

12-2 (April 14) More Protest of the Pledge

Russo v. Central School District (1972) 469 F.2d 623

Circle Sch. v. Phillips (2003) 270 F. Supp. 2d 616

13-1 (April 19) A Nation Under God?

Newdow v. U.S. Congress (2002) 292 F.3d 597

13-2 (April 21) Still A Nation Under God

Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael Newdow (2004) 124 S. Ct. 2301

14-1 (April 26) Peer Response

14-2 (April 28) The Star Spangled Banner and other patriotic songs

15-1 (May 3) Paper #3 Due
Willamette University

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