Henry Steele Commager
"Who Is Loyal To America", 1947
If our democracy is to flourish it must have criticism, if our government is to function it must have dissent. Only totalitarian governments insist upon conformity and they-as we know-do so at their peril...American's have a stake in nonconformity, for they know that the American genius is nonconformist.
It is easier to say what loyalty is not than to say what it is. It is not conformity. It is not passive acquiescence in the status quo...It is a tradition, an ideal, and a principle...It is a realization that America was born of revolt, flourished on dissent, became great through experimentation...
From the beginning Americans have known that there were new worlds to conquers, new truths to be discovered. Every effort to confine Americanism to a single pattern, to constrain it to a single formula, is disloyalty to everything that is valid in Americanism.
"Passport to Liberty" edited by Jan Sammer