English 1302/ Period 4
3 April 2012
Critical Analysis of “Can Patriotism Be Compassionate?” by Martha Nussbaum
Martha Nussbaum in her essay, “Can Patriotism Be Compassionate?” (2001), asserts that America has become a cold and selfish nation that has no interest in the well being of others around the world. Nussbaum supports this assertion with examples of the war in Iraq and other crises’ around the world. Her purpose is to change the way Americans think about, not only other nations and countries, but also the people of other Nations in general. She establishes a type of aggression towards her audience, who are most likely working middle and upper class Americans. Nussbaum’s methods of persuasion are impressive and convincing but her argument and solution have no real benefit behind it.
Nussbaum’s essay starts off with the general feelings of Americans after the events that occurred on September 11, 2001. With sympathetic feelings towards first responders, soldiers, families who lost loved ones, and “New York firefighters, that gay rugby player who helped bring down the fourth plane” (Nussbaum 784). But she goes on to describe that the hearts of the Americans are selfish and that they do not care about the innocent civilians of Afghanistan that have fallen victim from this conflict. She goes on to say that as Americans “our imaginations remain oriented to the local; indeed, this orientation is implicit in the unusual level of our alarm” (Nussbaum 1). Meaning that Americans only bother and care about themselves and live in a privileged land while the rest of the world goes on and still suffers. Nussbaum doesn’t angle this argument the right way. She should continue with more sympathy towards Americans and not Githens 2
ridicule them for the rest of the essay. Also, she should have created a sort of equality feeling with the people in other parts of the world instead of forcing it upon the reader....