Democratic Underground

Patriotism of the Pharisees
November 13, 2001
by Daniel K. H. Cortese

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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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