of the Pharisees
by Daniel K. H. Cortese
Yes, I must confess that I don't have an American flag bumper
sticker on my car, or draped on the side of my apartment covering
three-fourths of my neighbor's patio. I don't own a glossy
bejeweled lapel pin of the American flag, nor a make-shift
red-white-and-blue ribbon attached to any articles of my clothing.
Heck, I don't even have a pair of patriotic Tommy Hilfiger
Jeans - not that I don't appreciate the fashion-ability of
the red-white-and-blue colors, but mostly because I can't
get the jeans to quite fit right, since they are made for
bodies that don't naturally exist without the assistance of
an eating disorder.
No, this native New Yorker-turned-Texan has opted on the
subtle display of patriotism in light of the attacks on his
homeland: the two-inch-by-one-inch that proudly professes
to the viewer the two most patriotic words ever uttered by
an American - "I Voted."
I walked into the early voting places all last week - grocery
stores sponsor them here in Texas. In the parking lot, as
far as the eyes could see were American flags-painted on the
sides of automobiles, streaming down the antenna as if it
were a miniature flag pole. Even bumper stickers on the cars
would express the driver's absolute pride to be an American.
And, all three times I entered the grocery store after viewing
the overt displays of patriotism; there was not a soul at
the voting booth.
Turnout was so low during early voting - only 1% of voters
indeed voted early that week. Stores cannot stock enough patriotic
paraphernalia because of the demand, but when patriotism demands
effort, it seems voters are always doing something else more
important that filling out a ballot and exercising our patriotic
right and duty. Maybe no one voted in any significant number
because voting is anonymous and the neighbors wouldn't know
one is patriotic and therefore unimpressed?
This morning at the voting booth I was the first and only
person to arrive who was not employed at the Elementary school
where the polling place was located. And even then, I was
only the ninth person to vote in an election that focuses
on amendments to the Texas constitution.
Where are the thousands of countless others - the Pharisees
of modern America who speak of their patriotism by nearly
unanimously rallying behind a President whose legitimacy they
questioned in near-majority numbers less than two months ago?
Where are the millions of Americans who silenced any criticism
of American policies by accusing critics of being unpatriotic?
The self-proclaimed "patriots" aren't in the polling places,
that is for sure.
But I'll tell you one thing - the recent critics like me
who are accused of being unpatriotic are the ones in the voting
booths - we are the ones who challenge the system by actually
voting. We didn't buy our flags to look cool - we got our
"I Voted" sticker for free. And that is a lapel sticker that
is worth more than the paper it was printed on - because it
has actions behind that meaning.
You feel patriotic? Stop forwarding guises-of-patriotism
messages (except this one) and actually do something! Put
your patriotism where your mouth is!
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