Thursday, September 24, 2020

Patriotism is in the eye of the beholder

Jul 28. 2015
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Re: "Violations of the principles of Thai society are not a matter of opinion", Letters, July 27.
In seeking to refute Eric Bahrt’s contention that patriotism is a matter of opinion, JC Wilcox invokes what he defines as the pillars of the Thai state, and then goes on to make references to democracy and civilisation. However, as history has shown (and not just in Thailand), patriotism has not always been linked with democracy or with what might be defined as “civilisation”. 
The Oxford English dictionary defines patriotism as “the love of, or zealous devotion to one’s country”. That definition gives plenty scope for a multitude of opinions, good and bad.
Mr Wilcox rightly decries the killing of innocent people on the streets as being incompatible with patriotism (or what might be defined as “good” patriotism). I am sure that he has in mind not only the tragic deaths that occurred during the PDRC demonstrations prior to the 2014 coup, but also the equally tragic killing of an even greater number of innocent people on the streets during previous demonstrations, in 1973, 1976, 1992 and 2010. Yet those who took part in those demonstrations were considered by some to be unpatriotic, in the same way as those who now challenge the NCPO are sometimes accused of being unpatriotic.
One of Thailand’s most outstanding citizens, the late Dr Puey Ungpakorn, selflessly devoted his life to the betterment of his country and its people, and thus could be described as a patriot. Yet he lived out his life in exile. No, Mr Wilcox, patriotism isn’t a matter of facts, or what you claim to be facts, but of widely disparate opinions.
Robin Grant

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