2 Allegiance to Liberty action. He is throughout the course of the movie, as many Americans would agree, a true “patriot,” driven by an unswerving love of country. Yet to the British who are his opponents, Benjamin Martin is not a patriot. Indeed, in his conduct of warfare against the British, Benjamin Martin does not abide by the “civilized” code of war. His targeting of of- ficers, his unconventional tactics, and his unorthodox methods of attack earn him the scorn and the derision of his British counterparts. He could rightly be called a “guerilla” or perhaps even a “terrorist.” How, then, is Benjamin Martin held up by one side as a patriot (hence the name of the movie) and by the other as a terrorist? The answer lies in the conflicted nature of what a patriot is and what he/she portends to represent. The term “patriot” originates in ancient Greece. Its root is found in patriotes (fellow countrymen) and patros (father).1 By the 17th century, a patriot was defined as a “loyal and disinterested supporter of one’s country.”2 Though the “loyal” label here seems appropriate, the “disin- terested” labels seems somewhat contradictory. By modern standards, patriots are not disinterested in the welfare of their country but are, at times, hypervigilant about their country’s causes and survival. Yet in the early history of the American Republic, patriots were known more for their passive rather than active support of country. Bernard Bailyn (1965) points out that in the early history of the American experience, “formulas were suggested, tests outlined, by which true patriots [empha- sis added] could be distinguished from conspiratorial dissenters.”3 Bailyn continues: Patriots never seek office they have it thrust upon them. . . They do not seek office because they do not need office independent in wealth and opinion, they cannot be bought or meanly influenced. They are—palpably, transparently—lovers of virtue. . . . [t]he good magistrate “thinks it a great part of his duty, by precept and ex- ample, to educate the youth in a love of virtue and truth.” The good magistrate seeks union and harmony in the public he is never found stirring dissension [emphasis added].4 Bailyn notes that Benjamin Franklin, over the course of 14 elections for which he could have stood for political office, noted, “I never did, directly or indirectly, solicit any man’s vote.”5 Yet one who might rightly be called an antipatriot or “demagogue,” “fancies he is not made for the people but the people for him that he does not govern for them but for himself that the people live
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