SUPPORTER OR FACTIOUS DISTURBER? In 2000, Mel Gibson starred in a movie titled The Patriot. Released only a few months before 9/11, Gibson’s character of Benjamin Martin is portrayed as an individual who is tortured by his violent past in the service of the British crown and therefore hesitant to embrace the grow- ing American colonial disaffection with Great Britain, Parliament, and King George III. In an early scene of the movie, a soldier/friend of Martin muses out loud about Martin’s hesitancy to embrace the “cause” of revolution against the British Empire. His comment to Martin is, “I took you to be a patriot.” Martin’s reply is that he does believe in the cause of the American colonies but not to the extent of the lives that it will cost to take on the most powerful country in the world. The list of characteristics that constitute a patriot probably seems straightforward to most Americans. Patriots are people who love their country and are willing to sacrifice themselves to a higher cause. That “cause” is whatever is in the best interests of the country and its people. In the case of The Patriot, Benjamin Martin fights as an American mili- tiaman during the Revolutionary War. He fights unconventionally, often ambushing British soldiers from the confines of swamps, wheat fields, or densely covered forests. For the “cause” of independence, he sacrifices his home, two sons, and the easy life of a gentrified farmer he had enjoyed before the war. The love of country, however, spurs him to CHAPTER 1 What Is a Patriot?
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