Be Careful Where You Draw Those Red Lines, Daniel

[I]f there is a red line that must separates patriots from traitors it is whether or not one collaborates with an invader. It really makes no difference why the invader is there.

That’s from Daniel Larison’s latest on patriotism.

I’m pretty sure he’s wrong, because that would make Konrad Adenauer a traitor. Adenauer was first installed in office after World War II by the American occupiers; he chaired the convention that wrote the Federal Republic’s constitution, a convention that was organized by the occupying powers; and he served as the first chancellor of that Republic and, as such, was the man most responsible for formal acceptance of the division of the country, the loss of substantial territory in the east, and the long-term presence of the occupying army. If “it really makes no difference why the invader is there” then Adenauer was a traitor of the first order.

But Adenauer not only acted out of profound love for his country; he was instrumental in saving his country. Either Adenauer was a patriot or, if Adenauer was a traitor, then we have to say that sometimes treason is virtuous and patriotism is evil.

I like bringing these sorts of abstract distinctions back to cases because it’s easier to see an absurdity in a specific case than in an abstract principle.

(By the way, I’m really enjoying this back-and-forth.)