Patriotism lives with
civic involvement


Hawaii joins the rest of the nation in celebrating Independence Day.

NEARLY 10 months after recoiling in horror and then beaming in patriotism, Hawaii celebrates the nation's birthday much the same as it has for years. The flags that adorned houses and car antennas in the days after Sept. 11 grew tattered and were taken down, many of them not to be replaced, but our sense of patriotism remains alive and well.

However, patriotism cannot be measured by the number of flags being flown when the nation is under attack. Neither is it a reflection of public contentment when the country enjoys peace and prosperity. About the time of last year's Fourth of July, Hawaii was coming off a record year in tourism, with more visitors, longer visits and higher hotel room rates in 2000 than in any previous year. Barely two months later, the outlook had turned grim, with Americans fearful of flying and Japanese reluctant to vacation in a grieving nation. Patriotism exists in good times and bad.

A recent national survey by the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and the Gallup Poll found that the outpouring of nonpartisan cooperation, donations, volunteerism and civic pride following the terrorist attacks did not alter many people's views about public affairs. About two-thirds of those polled indicated that they expect the conduct of candidates and the news media to be about the same or worse in this year's elections as in past years.

Only 40 percent of those surveyed in the Harwood Institute/Gallup poll indicated that civic pride and civic involvement must be a part of patriotism. However, 88 percent agreed that "for politics to improve, people like me need to get involved."

Involvement does not mean flag-waving or blind acceptance of the government's policies, even those fashioned to conduct war. During the weeks following the terrorist attack, Hawaii's members of Congress appropriately united with their colleagues in adhering to a brief patriotic protocol. Those days are past, and policies of the Bush administration should be subject to close examination and finding of fault where any exists.

When the Justice Department takes measures that threaten constitutional freedoms, resistance should be expected and not branded as unpatriotic. When intelligence agencies or security forces are discovered to have failed in their missions, they should undergo public scrutiny, because they are part of our democracy. Likewise, legislators who neglect or abuse their roles should be taken to task.

The Harwood Institute points to a statement made by Adlai Stevenson a half-century ago: "What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility ... a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."


Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
Assistant Editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor 529-4762;

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4790;
John Flanagan, Contributing Editor 294-3533;

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by
Oahu Publications at 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.
Periodicals postage paid at Honolulu, Hawaii. Postmaster: Send address changes to
Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

E-mail to Editorial Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin