What is patriotism? I'm writing this the July 4th holiday. If you believe some people in the media and the government, you would get the impression that anything that disagrees with them and their politicial position, you're being unpatriotic and not supporting the troops or are betraying our national security. That view was expressed by many, including our President, over the international funds surrveillence program and the New York Times exposing the program.

I personally agree with the Times to inform the public and the view also expressed by many that any smart terrorist organization would already know about it and have ways around it. And while members of the Bush Administration, including the President himself, have talked about and other newspapers have reported this program, they weren't threatened with legal action by the Justice Department. So why single out the Times?

We are a country that prizes an informed public and the right to free speech. It's not a question of patriotism, we're all patriotic, and many of us have served on active duty or in a war zone as a member of the National Guard or Reserve forces. We know what it's not about supporting the troops, it's about the view of our national policy. And everyone has the right to express their view.

So why are they selling an unpatriotic idea of freedom? Has it occurred to people that they're not really selling patriotism, but selling fear? If you fear terrorism, whatever that is, and you fear anyone who express unpatriotic views, then you'll give up your rights to be safe. Do you realize it's a sham? They realize if you'll "trust" them, then you'll understand they're "protecting" your rights while fighting terrorism.

Do you realize terrorism has been around as long as man created war and oppression? Which is as long as man has been on earth. Nothing new here. And in the last decade there have been many acts of terrorism by terrorist organizations and by nations, both in the name of freedom. What's not to understand here? And we've had acts of terrorism before September 11th. What do you call Oklahoma City? No one called for extreme political measures for fighting terrorism then.

What's my point? Patriotism is about celebrating freedom, as defined in the Constitution, and no government should take that away, or any politician who tries to restrict our freedoms or pretend their patriotism is the only patriotism. We need to challenge anyone who tries to restrict our freedoms, especially in the name of national security. Our integrity in the world is based on the value we place in our people and the freedom we grant ourselves, and fight anyone who tries to restrict it.

It's not about wrapping yourself in the flag and declaring your views patriotic, it's about everyone's freedoms and rights.

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