“Questioning Patriotism” or not?

One of my favorite NRO writers, Jonah Goldberg, weighs in on the “They can’t question my patriotism!” crowd:

*snip*Another phantasm of the liberal imagination is that they’re having their patriotism “questioned” at every turn by those nasty conservatives. I’m of two minds about this omnipresent assertion. On the one hand, I kind of want to say, “So what if we are questioning their patriotism?” After all, I can think of quite a few people with highly questionable devotion to the United States of America and its traditions. And there’s no doubt for anyone who watches C-SPAN or the Democratic debates that there are plenty of liberals out there who are far more passionate about beating Bush than about beating al Qaeda. And, besides, conservatives have their humanity and decency questioned by liberals every day. We’re told that if we don’t agree with this or that policy it must be because we hate blacks, or the poor, or gays, or women — etc., etc. Why is that any less despicable — or more appropriate — than questioning those liberals who instinctually assume that anyone who attacks us has a good reason and that anything we do in response is some kind of overreaction? Frankly, I think that if you believe — or even suggest — that the U.S. “deserved” 9/11, or that the French have better ideas about how to run America than the Republicans, then maybe you’re not all that patriotic after all. *snip*

Most of the complaints fall into the “it’s-not-fair-to-criticize-me-when-I’m-attacking-you” department. Remember how former-Representative Cynthia McKinney (D., DingbatLand) said any criticism of her amounted to an attack on her right to free speech? Or how, just last week, Ted Kennedy flipped out and said that President Bush “hatched” this war in Texas for political reasons? President Bush called Kennedy’s unproven assertions “uncivil.” Representative John Conyers responded, “The White House should immediately apologize to Senator Kennedy for calling his legitimate criticism of the rush to war ‘uncivil.'” And the week before, when John Ashcroft finally responded to the hysterical wails and lamentations of his critics, the Washington Post denounced his “tantrum” — even though it agreed with the substance of his points — saying, “The attorney general of the United States has no business jeering at those who, rightly or wrongly, disagree with his policies or disfavor a particular law.” *snip*

This “questioning patriotism” outrage is something I think deserves more discussion. After all, Goldberg is right to ask the question (paraphrasing): “is criticizing your criticism of the president really questioning your patriotism?”

The answer? No.