Author/columnist Ralph Peters (at the NY Post, via RCP) takes on the bumper-stickerization of America, particularly the "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" gang. The quote is often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, who never said any such thing.
"Parrot-talk on policy infects both ends of the political spectrum. Extremists like things neat and simple. But, these days, tape-loop talk has reached epidemic proportions on the left. Rational debate? Ain't going to find it at that MoveOn fund-raiser. Worst of all, the most enduringly popular slogans tend to be either dishonest, misattributed - or just plain dumb.
We've all heard humorless America-haters promote themselves by announcing, As Thomas Jefferson said, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." The first problem with that self-righteous bull is that Jefferson never said it. On the contrary, he warned of the dangers of political dissension carried to extremes.
The earliest traceable provenance of the slogan goes back to an obscure 1960s lefty who just made it up (long before activist-historian Howard Zinn commandeered it)."
In short, dissent can be patriotic, but spirited public debate should be based on facts, and not on some mushy 'feelings' and as Peters puts it, dissent should emphatically NOT be a fashion statement.
Could not agree more.