Recently, three men (one of whom is a Dominican Friar) broke into the Waihopai spy base in New Zealand – supposedly a top security facility, and deflated one of the enormous balloon-like covers of a satellite dish.

Setting aside the embarrassing fact of how apparently easy this was, the men themselves, now granted bail, have described their deeds as comparable to those of our war heroes. From a recent news story:

He [Mr Murnane – one of the accused] revealed that the three men had all been wearing poppies on Wednesday morning last week when they set about deflating one of the two balloons surrounding the satellite dishes.

“The people who died (as Anzac soldiers) died against tyranny. We wore red poppies when we did the job and we were proud of that, it is the same tradition,” Murnane said.

The same tradition – those who went to war for New Zealand, and those who damage Government owned spy bases. It’s certainly not impossible. Patriotism is not, after all, a love of the state. It’s a love of one’s country, and it’s quite conceivable that one could fight for one’s country and destroy spy bases in the same country out of love for that country – a love which may very well engender contempt for the state, if that state is not acting in the best interests of the country.

I’m not saying that I agree with what these folk did. I wouldn’t do it. But even if these guys are off their rockers, this relatively small event should get a few of us to look again at the issue of whether or not patriotism might sometimes put you at loggerheads (and even in the firing line) of those who govern the country towards which your patriotism is directed.