August 10, 2004


Patriotism redefined (Renée Loth, August 10, 2004, Boston Globe)

AFTER THE Sept. 11 attacks, I put a small American flag in my front window. Some of my most liberal friends were appalled. The flag conjured up visions of jingoistic, Fox-watching rednecks, they said. Displaying it tagged me as a guns, guts, and God kind of gal, a vengeful Rambo in heels. At the very least, it meant that I was for bombing the daylights out of Afghanistan.

No, I protested. The flag is merely a symbol. It can celebrate any aspect of America we choose: freedom of speech, community, separation of church and state. Or just solidarity with the fallen. What better time to take back the flag, I said -- to make it stand for more progressive values?

After a while, it seemed my hoped-for shared custody of the flag wasn't going to take. Like liberals who proclaim their superior eco-politics by slapping recycle stickers on their low-emission cars, the flag just seemed to be a permanent fixture of the Hummer and pickup truck crowd.

The struggle to control the symbols of patriotism reappeared at the Democratic National Convention, awash in a sea of military metaphors. John Kerry criticized people who "wrap themselves in the flag" but question the patriotism of anyone who protests the status quo. "That is not a challenge to patriotism," he said. "It is the heart and soul of patriotism." It was one of the best applause lines he stepped on all night.

So Democrats showed they too could produce full-throated chauvinism. I don't know how it looked on TV, but to me it seemed artificial, as contrived as the multicultural coalitions the Republicans trot out at their conventions every four years to show they're the party of inclusion.

The unseemly tug of war over the flag is just another sorry example of how polarized we have become in this nation. We need a new definition of patriotism to cut across the partisan divide.

Got that? Patriotism needs to be redefined because the Left doesn't believe in it but doesn't want to be called unpatriotic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2004 9:15 AM

Let's not get carried away here folks. On the cover of Kerry's hard to find book, the flag is pictured upside down.

Posted by: John at August 10, 2004 9:49 AM

The Democrats could actually be a real threat if they got wise and kicked the America-haters out of their party. However, they won't, because if they did they wouldn't get financial support from the 4th generation Rockefeller/Hunt/Heinz/Kennedy/etc trustafarians.

Something that blew my mind the other day was the news that Teresa's sons are supporting the Kerry ticket. I then rationalized that Teresa might cut them out of the will if they don't support the human tree.

Posted by: Leonidas at August 10, 2004 10:10 AM

Nice to know that the Democrats' flag waving and speeches rung as false to true believers as it did to the rest of us. What they were shoveling was recognizable by people both left and right.

Posted by: BC Monkey at August 10, 2004 10:15 AM

"... to make it stand for more progressive values?"

Eyes, prepare to glaze over.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at August 10, 2004 11:02 AM

Rang totally false. These were the same people who 30 years ago would have called Kerry's brothers-in-arms baby killers and meant it.

Posted by: Rick T. at August 10, 2004 11:47 AM

Quotation of the month. Should be in one of GWB's ads:

"Democratic elites do not want the people to know what they really think. On that ground, they fear they will lose."

Michael Novak, NRO, 7/30.

Posted by: genecis at August 10, 2004 2:37 PM