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United States: Essays 1952-1992 - "Patriotism" (1991) Summary & Analysis

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"Patriotism" (1991) Summary and Analysis

What does the politically incorrect term patriotism mean in today's America with its various warring tribes and a lack of consensus even on what it means to be an American? Vidal asks the question in this short but pointed essay. First of all, the term patriotism derives from the Latin word pater, meaning father; so where is the respect for mother, or, in Latin, mater? Vidal recalls a recent family reunion where he visited with fifth cousin Jimmy Carter and cousin Al Gore, former senator and vice president. Feeling instantly at home, Vidal reflects that tribe has become more important than nation.

In the absence of an agreed-upon national compact, America's many tribes and groups are "unfurling their standards and casting ever wider the webs of kinship for mutual support and defense against the state that...

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This section contains 216 words
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Buy the United States: Essays 1952-1992 Study Guide
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