I think that your last post was as much an emotional outburst as the cheers and shouts being made by the "patriots" you excoriate. ("...you folks wring your hands about mystics of the left refusing to salute the flag. Talk about cognitive impairment." Excuse me! I am one of those 'hand-wringers'.)
Bill opened by saying, "First of all, I don’t know why the National Anthem is played at sporting events. A football game is not a political event like an inauguration. Yet playing the National Anthem at sporting events is now commonplace and has, in turn, injected politics into them." He did NOT make a claim that playing the national anthem at sporting events signifies respect for the Constitution and its limits on government power - that connection is a straw man you put together.
I'm quite certain that the mystics of the left AND the mindless worshipers of American military power both fail to understand that any symbol representing our unique nation, is a symbol that stands for the first nation to ever institute government for the sole purpose of protecting individual rights. And my concern has never been a blind worship of military power, of the flag, or our nation right or wrong, but always about the attack being launched against reason, individualism and liberty - read what those who are "taking a knee" and their supporters are espousing.
There are the religious right, the hawks of the national-security right, the left, the populists, and political nuts of nearly every flavor imaginably. And each of them assign their own meanings to the symbols of our nation because they have their own ideological view of the nation. There are some truly awful, and hugely stupid political beliefs out there. Some are hateful of what is good in our nation and some love what is, or was, wrong about our nation. And that is all emotional bullshit - not reasoning.
We must see that intersection between the ideas of a limited government fighting to protect individual rights and the historical events and heroic actions that actually created and implemented the constitution. If we value individualism, liberty and reason then we want to feel a pride in what was, and what is, good in our nation. If we don't, then we have lost real, concrete expressions of what we should hold as a poltical ideals.
Just as there is purpose in art - making concrete those values we could otherwise only experience as abstractions and thereby giving us emotional fuel - so a love of what is, and what was, good in our nation empowers us to fight against what threatens those values. There are things that we SHOULD feel patriotic about. The left wants to kill all heroic impulses, all connection to any expression of liberty. The right are divided between those that are defending a past they don't understand, and those who worship naked force and destruction. They are both wrong.
"We are becoming a hard core authoritarian state, and not slowly..." That is very true.
But to fail to see that progressives, with their political correctness, are acting as the modern-day, leading edge of Marxist thought and are the greatest threat to reason, to individualism, and to liberty that civilization has ever faced, is just plain short-sighted. Look at the support given to a "Democratic Socialist" running for president on the platform of redistribution and complete disdain for any concept of property. Look at the universities where free speech is under attack. Look at the unelected, regulatory state. Look at the progressive judges that violate the law to support their ideology. The rule of law is disappearing under unrelenting attack... and you are accusing contributors to RoR of leading with their feelings because they won't acknowledge your concerns about the facts of past wars?
I'm pretty sure that we all understand how authoritarianism can and has been advanced by arousing patriotic fervor.... I doubt that there is a nation on earth where patriotic emotions haven't been manipulated by politicians. Rand saw the parallels between Nazi Germany and US politics. But that doesn't mean that all nations are equally good or equally bad. And feeling patriotism for this nation as compared to a great many other nations seems to be an obvious response from its citizens. Despite our growing trend towards despotism, we still rank heads and shoulders above most other nations.
The hyped-up patriotism of the right (and of the populists) and the hyped up hatred for our country from the far left are equally emotional and beside the point.
If we can't find a deep emotional attachment to what does make our nation's history different from any other on the planet, we have lost the psychological substance of valuing what gave America the freedom that you rightly point out is being lost. The flag and the anthem are symbols. I don't give a damn if the left hates them or the right misunderstands them. I know what they REALLY stand for.