Dr. Lee Cheek, EGSC’s Dean of Social Sciences, was a key figure in a recent national conference on “Liberty and Patriotism in America and the World,” which took place at The Brice Hotel, Savannah, Georgia, February 19-22. Dr. Joseph Fornieri, Professor of Political Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Director, Center for Statesmanship, Law, and Liberty (CSLL), organized the colloquium and invited Dr. Cheek to participate because “he is a nationally-respected scholar on the diffusion of political power, and he challenges many commonly accepted notions of patriotism in his published works.”
The national academic meeting was funded by Liberty Fund, a private, non-profit educational foundation headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, has as its primary mission the serious “study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.” Each year Liberty Fund sponsors more than 100 conferences in the United States and in foreign countries. Dr. Cheek has lead and assisted with these gatherings for a quarter century
In six sessions over two days, participants delved into the following topics: “Patriotism and Identity in the American Context”; “Washington and Republican Patriotism in Joseph Addison’s Cato”; Lincoln’s Patriotism and the Meaning of the Union”; “Roosevelt, Coolidge, and Kennedy”; “Civic Nationalism and Patriotism”; and “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism.” Participants examined the differences between patriotism and nationalism, American exceptionalism and American triumphalism, and civic republicanism and liberalism. Cheek convened the discussion by asking participants to contemplate the meaning of “public orthodoxy,” a term drawn from the Greek word politeia, which defines that “matrix of convictions, usually enshrined in custom and folkways,’ often articulated formally and solemnly in charter and constitution, occasionally summed up in the creed of a church or the testament of a philosopher, that make a society The Thing it is and that divides it from other societies as, in human thought, one thing is always divided from another.” If such a public orthodoxy exists, how should it be nurtured and defended and what are the implications posed by a public orthodoxy for the limits of tolerance and for the openness of a liberal society.
The notion of public orthodoxy draws on the writings of thinkers as diverse as Edmund Burke, T. S. Eliot. Leo Strauss, and Willmoore Kendall. In the final session, participants addressed the meaning of a civic education, whether such a thing as a citizen of the world exists and whether a cosmopolitan or multicultural education actually advances its stated goals to make the world a better place or fosters dangerous illusions by thinking a moral community can be advanced without first securing what Burke referred to as the little platoons: family, community, and private associations.