Patriotism Owes No Apology

( A look at the term’s origin and it’s on-going meaning in America)

Steven Galanis
5 min readNov 5, 2020

Few words in the English language capture the concept of homeland allegiance so powerfully as the word "patriot" . The term is of Greek origin and it contains the root word "patros" which in Greek means father. Both the greek word for countryman, πατριώτη (patrioti), and the greek word for country, πατρίδa (patritha) are rooted in this familial term. A basic understanding of the the term patriot is of paramount importance in understanding the mindset of the American settlers who resurrected the term in the late 18th century.

In terms of language, race and ethnicity, the colonial leaders who would lead the American rebellion, and their overseas authorities were essentially alike. With generational succession on American soil, however, there were graves signifying those who had come before. None of them were English graves. The settlements that had been founded by their forbearers had been left to them, and they in turn would leave their land to their progeny. They had developed a pathos for this land on the other side of the ocean, and it could not suffice to leave the matter of a lasting posterity for their heirs to the British Crown.

Yet, how simultaneously strange and insufferable the word patriot must have been to the Loyalists, who had deep seated ideas of allegiance of their own! The British Commonwealth was expansive, and those of Anglo Saxon heritage had a bountiful share in it. Sure, the settlers had faced hardships, but the Crown had invested. Why break the alliance?

Good thing Patrick Henry was mainly preaching to the choir, because on the streets of many colonial towns, a passionate appeal for liberty coming from a man with land and a law practice would have been met, somewhere, with a loud cry to "shut up"! The equally rebellious rhetoric of Thomas Paine must of had plenty of eyes rolling before landing on the ground where the feet of horses and men could trample upon.

The founding fathers were consummate propagandists, but was their cause to break from the Crown anything other than treason? Were they driven by anything other than self serving motives? Moreover, what greater claim to piety had these men over the servants of the Crown?

The answer to the last question seems to be none. Benjamin Franklin was an atheist, and a whole entourage were Deists, most notably Jefferson.

The answer to the first question. It was treason.

What redeems the founding fathers is the virtue of courage that I read in their actions. There is truth in the old adage that princes have more to lose than paupers. None as I recall, seem to have had a close brush with death at the hands of the redcoats, but had their side been forced to surrender, they would have forfeited much by way of property and reputation, even if their lives had been spared.

I'm lately convinced there was more to the American Revolution than tea parties, tax relief, and independence; that these men actually recognized the potential of their homeland better than did their British masters.

Had the Crown recognized the true potential of this land, the intensity of the struggle probably would have been a bit more epic (who knows?). Still, it took roughly 10 years to win the fight for self rule, and in the intervening period between the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the Constitution, American soldiers died. When America acquired sovereignty, the nation building began. The struggles that followed afterwards, including the War Between the States, are well documented, as is the country's storied success.

Todays propagandists, like yesterday's patriots, are also experts at verbal tear gas tossing out phrases like "white nationalism", "white supremacy", "white privelege", and so forth. As they quickly dismiss the various seasons of penitence in our country's past, it becomes evident they care not so much about the fruits of repentance as they do the seeds of division.

With Constitutional requirements in governance now absent everywhere, including the electoral process, it is clear to most thinking Americans, today, that the propagandists dealing in these phrases are forces opposed to the idea of nationhood.

To these modern day propagandists, nationhood, is an obstacle to a world governed by a universal set of principles as laid out by the United Nations.

And they demand adherence to these principles with such ferocity, while overlooking all the deficiencies that doom them; one such being the simple lack of a populist element.

Populist pressure will always exert influence to carve out something smaller out of something bigger. The United States was founded during the zenith of an empire whose territorial holdings spanned the entire globe. In the aftermath of WWII, populist pressure on that empire from the eastern hemisphere led to the birth of two sovereign nations on the Indian subcontinent. In recent times, a quilt of sovereign states was carved out of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Cold War.

Nationhood and sovereignty have always been necessary for the defense of a people and their homeland. The modern state of Israel is a stark example of this fact, but fairness demands that Israel not be treated as an exceptional circumstance.

It will take more than a corn crop on the moon, for men to lose sight of their parochial interests, and perhaps even more than an exodus of Jews from Israel. The scientists and the U.N. have work to do, and it would be wise for their most ardent supporters to drop the condescending rhetoric, while their chosen masters grope for success.

We may for kindness sake call these soulless drones globalists, or socialists, but by all means, any consideration of them as patriots must be ruled out. Only the latter believe in the concept of a nation built on a populist set of principles and a citizenry bound by a zeal and affection for a homeland contained within national borders.



Steven Galanis

journalism grad, literature buff, sports nut, and D. C. suburbanite