Kateb’s response to me raises a number of questions. Let me comment on a few.
(1) Kateb notes that constitutional patriotism involves devotion to a particular political order because it is one’s own and “not only” because it is legitimate. That’s true, but what’s wrong with it? My son happens to be a fine young man; I cherish him for his warm, caring heart, among many other virtues. I also cherish him above other children because he is my own. Am I committing a moral mistake? I would be if my love for my son led me to regard other children with indifference — for example, if I voted against local property taxes because he is no longer of school age. But it is perfectly possible to love one’s own without becoming morally narrow.
(2) Kateb observes, rightly, that people “often” sacrifice themselves for illusions, not for high constitutional principles. Agreed; but that formulation points to a larger truth-namely, that patriots don’t always act that way. That is all that my position requires.
(3) Kateb merely affirms what I deny, that patriotism entails “my country, right or wrong.” Patriotism means, rather, caring enough about your country to try to correct it when it goes astray. When that is not possible, one must make a difficult choice. A number of non-Jewish German patriots left their country in the 1930s because they could not stand what Hitler was doing to their Jewish fellow-citizens.
(4) “Whatever is worth killing for is worth dying for.” Again, agreed. Does it follow that a political community must be morally unblemished to be worth killing or dying for? The United States was a deeply flawed nation when it went to war, not only against the country that had attacked it, but also against Nazi Germany. I suppose we could have stayed out of that fight if Hitler had let us (he didn’t). The servicemen at Normandy harbored no dulce et decorum est illusions; they fought against pure evil in the name of a partial good. They were neither wrong nor deceived to do so, or so I believe.