My Flag Too!
March 6, 2003
There has been an upsurge in nationalistic censure the likes
of which has not been seen since the days of Joseph McCarthy,
as this country tumbles, stumbles and bumbles towards war.
Despite the fact the that our nation is deeply divided over
the issue, the hawks - particularly the ideologues on the
right - spit and scream vitriolic sentiments towards those
who simply seek more time, more facts, more support and more
options before starting a deadly process which cannot be reversed
once set in motion. They are harpies, not hawks.
Those who question another man's patriotism are admittedly
putting their own patriotism in the spotlight; those who seek
to set a standard had better be prepared to live up to it.
The epithet "Un-American" is frequently used. I do not understand
this criticism. By virtue of being born or naturalized to
this country, one is American, regardless of opinion
or political ideology. By virtue of living in a free (a popular
word these days) democracy (also popular), we are taught that
we, as Americans, are granted certain inalienable rights.
These rights are supplemented and defined by a core framework
of American ideals called the Constitution, the first amendment
of which addresses the vitality of free speech, thought and
expression in a free and democratic American society.
To intimidate, threaten, or slander Americans for expressing
their opinion on perhaps the single most important issue of
the day is the very essence of "Un-American." While those
who stand opposed to the war do not agree with this action,
there are no calls to silence or censor those who do support
it. Generally speaking, the anti-war side is wise enough to
understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion,
and that the merits of one's arguments should be enough to
persuade reasonable people that the position is logical. In
contrast, those who support this war typically engage in other
methods to achieve their agenda. In and of itself, this is
a blow to their credibility and ability to communicate effectively.
After the devastating events of September 11th, our nation
responded with a tremendous surge in goodwill, sympathy, and
patriotism. I was on the phone to Red Cross, who told me that
they had received so many calls, they literally could not
take my blood! I bought a nice Old Glory sticker, and slapped
her on my back windshield. Most of my neighbors did the same.
In the time that has passed the sticker has faded, but my
patriotism has not. But my views about others' patriotism
I saw a lot of other faded stickers. I saw a lot of tattered
window flags. I came to realize that being a true patriot
is not as easy as it appears. Slapping that sticker on my
car took all but two seconds. Is that all that is required
of me? Chanting "U-S-A" at a sports event - is that
the measure of patriotism?
I am reminded of a quote by Samuel Johnson - “Patriotism
is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” I saw a host of commercials
using American symbolism to promote a given product. And perhaps,
most cynically, I witnessed an administration that decided
to use this event, and this upsurge in patriotism, to advance
their political agenda.
Only recently have the Democrats begun to find a voice. Throughout
the first year after 9/11, they united and displayed their
patriotism and gave virtual carte blanche to this administration.
One can only wonder if Republicans would have been as gracious
had Al Gore been in Bush's position. Their behavior throughout
this whole episode is the only answer I need. Their behavior
during Clinton's terms affirms this. How odd that at other
times of conflict - Desert Fox, Somalia and Kosovo, there
was no patriotic outpouring of support for an elected President,
or troops in the field. How odd that the man who poses such
a termendous threat now, Saddam Hussein, did not pose such
a grave threat then - even though Bill Clinton is today being
blamed for not doing enough! Perhaps our uber-patriot friends
need to look in the rear-view mirror.
The hypocrisy exhibited would be comedic if it were about
any other issue besides war. The foreign "diplomacy" we see
today further underscores the conclusion that the pro-war
ideologues care nothing for freedom, democracy or patriotism.
Amongst the few key allies we have recruited for this incursion,
their peoples have voiced strong opposition to their respective
nation's policy on this issue. And this administration trivializes
This administration also derides other nation's who have
listened to their people and have not succumbed to this madness.
Yes, we sure set a great standard for democracy! But, we should
not be surprised, as this same administration has also managed
to squander the tremendous goodwill and affection generated
throughout the international community after the events of
Just recently, the democratic Turkish parliament, according
to the sovereign rules of its Constitution, and in accordance
with the will of its people, chose to decline to offer itself
as a springboard for American forces into Iraq. And what does
the great No-Recount Administration ask for? A recount; actually
a revote! Truly democracy in action. This is made more laughable
by the fact that Turkey shares a border with Iraq, and is
thus much more at risk from Hussein than America is.
It is clear now that true patriotism involves standing up
for one's ideals in the hopes of bettering this great nation.
It is easy to go along with the crowd. No sacrifice is made.
But standing up for a conviction that is unpopular is difficult.
Putting one's reputation on the line, risking alienation from
co-workers, friends and neighbors, being slandered and called
names, even being physically intimidated, these are no small
sacrifices. Our nation has a proud heritage of dissent, from
the actions employed by our Forefathers to give birth to this
nation, to the Dream of Dr. King.
I am tired of seeing our flag, our Constitution, and our
legacy being hijacked. Those men of past battles who sacrificed
life and limb did not make distinctions in whose liberty they
defended. Now those of us who seek to avoid the loss of further
life and limb of our servicemen, are being told that we do
not support our troops! As much of a stink conservatives raise
about two words in the Pledge, "Under God", they seem to have
a hard time remembering the words that close the Pledge -
"With liberty and justice FOR ALL".