I’ll bet if you go to your kitchen and look at the calendar by your fridge, in tiny letters at the bottom of today’s date it says “Patriot Day.” If not, don’t worry — the official title for today’s remembrance only began in 2002, the year after the terrorist attack that changed almost everything about the way our nation conducts itself. The word “patriot” means different things to different people, and we won’t pretend to speak for them all here. But we know it when we see it, and we know the opposite of it, as well.
Patriotism is what we see when we watched Americans coming together in grief and solidarity, helping each other in the aftermath of the attack. The opposite of it is what we saw when former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani politically invoked the attacks so much that Vice President Joe Biden once remarked that all Giuliani needed “to make a sentence is a noun, a verb, and 9/11.” Patriotism was on the face of our last President, holding a soup ladle in a national day of service in 2011. The opposite is what you call it when Rush Limbaugh attacked him and said he was “visiting the beneficiaries of his policies.”
Patriotism, in the words of Clarence Darrow, “hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
What it does not do is tout itself as superior. We see nothing but that from Donald Trump. When Trump lied on national television — one of more than a thousand times he’s done so since his election — and said that he heard Muslims “cheering” the fall of the towers, perhaps what he was actually doing was projecting a little bit of his own guilt onto adherents of a religion he doesn’t and has no desire to understand.
Maybe, just maybe, Donald Trump felt a tiny bit bad for saying the worst thing anyone in America said on that fateful day in 2001:
“40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest-and then, when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second-tallest. And now it’s the tallest.”
What’s at 40 Wall Street? The 71-story Trump Building.
Listen here, if you can.
Featured image via John Moore/Getty Images