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Summary: If any nation seems to be the embodiment of patriotism, it’s America. That’s what this brief sets you up for.
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About "Patriotism (OPP)"
If any nation seems to be the embodiment of patriotism, it’s America. With our flag-waving, gun-toting, Fourth-of-July celebrating populace, it seems almost impossible to counteract such an idea. That’s what this brief sets you up for. The basic arguments of this brief include:
- Circular reasoning
- Patriotism isn’t good for all nations
- Patriotism is based on coincidence (and thus has no meaningful value)
- Patriotism harms morality (buildup)
Keep reading this prologue, and you’ll get some idea at how these arguments can be run.
First off, let’s be honest, patriotism has a very strong appeal with judges and students alike, and going head-on against it probably isn’t the best idea. Your best bet is to gradually build up to your killer arguments against it. It’s important to read your judge here, too, because if they get lost then you’ve spent all that time for nothing.
Alright, on to the arguments. The first argument, circular reasoning, should be pretty obvious; anyone can see that Patriotism and Nationalism are VERY similar. The best argument your opponent could come up with is probably that there are similar but that there are a few fundamental differences between the two (And yes, there is research to back that up). You can respond in one of two ways. First, you can argue that the two terms are completely interchangeable and there is no difference between them. Second, you can concede that there are a few differences between nationalism and patriotism, but that they are so inconsequential that they might as well be the same thing. Either way works.
The second argument discussed in this brief is how patriotism isn’t good for all nations. Your opponent will want to show only the good side of patriotism. Get them to show the bad side. Is it REALLY a good thing for North Korean citizens to be patriotic towards their regime? Patriotism doesn’t look quite so good in that light.
The third argument is the idea that patriotism is coincidental based on birth. Get your opponent to admit that patriotism is generally related to place of birth (Generally, guys. Don’t let them nix you by saying nothing is absolute). From there, show the judge how patriotism is based purely on coincidence – you just happened to be born in that country. There are no moral, legal, or other obligations. It’s just pure luck.
The final argument is that patriotism harms morality. This one takes time, and you have to run multiple arguments, but if you do it right you’ll be able to say that patriotism actually harms the citizens. First, show how patriotism devalues morality. Next, show how it leads to violence. At that point, you can make the connection between patriotism harming its own citizens. Fun, right?
Good luck, and happy debating!
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Taylor Belyeu is a high school senior entering her seventh year of speech and debate. She has competed in both styles of debate, as well as Apologetics, Impromptu, Extemp, Persuasive and Informative speaking, and has qualified to the Regional level in all categories. She has also qualified to nationals three years in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and two years in Apologetics.