During the mid-century Red Scare, J. Edgar Hoover’s agents zeroed in countless groups that called themselves “patriots.” The FBI’s controversial director considered many of them mere fronts for activities that were anything but patriotic — at least not in support of America. Sometimes he was right, but more often he wasn’t.
Last spring, news broke that the Internal Revenue Service had paid special attention to groups that used “patriot” in their title and sought tax-exempt status to support their causes. The scope of that scandalous attention has yet to be determined; it remains a cause celebre among those who would lay it on the doorstep of the Oval Office. Democrats on Capitol Hill so far have scrambled rather successfully to curtail the damage caused by the IRS, though the violation took place on their party’s watch.
Webster defines a patriot as one who “loves and loyally or zealously supports his own country.”