Recently, a CNN reporter noticed that Senator (and Presidential hopeful) Barack Obama does not wear the seemingly obligatory flag lapel pin seen on most politicians these days. Here is what he said in explanation:
"I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest,” the Democratic presidential candidate told the reporter Tuesday in Iowa City, Iowa. “Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great. Hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism."
Obama touched upon the exchange again Wednesday at a speech in Independence, Iowa.
"I haven't worn that pin in probably a very long time. I wore it right after 9/11. But after a while, you start noticing people wearing the lapel pin but not acting very patriotic,” he said. “My attitude is that I'm less concerned with what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those ones who serve."
After September 11th, 2001 it became important to people to prove how PATRIOTIC they were. Fly the flag, wear red, white and blue, write country songs about "God Bless America!", put "Proud to be an American" stickers your pick-up, boycott the Dixie Chicks for expressing their personal opinion about the President. But does loving America mean the exclusion of those not just like us or those who don't share our views? Does patriotism mean fear and loathing of all Muslims? Does patriotism mean it's acceptabale to bash Mexicans, gays, Jews? That's just completely UN-American. We're the Great American Melting Pot! I learned that in 2nd grade. Every single American (except the Native Americans of course) is descendant from immegrants. And that's why it baffles me that patriotism has taken this ugly turn; it's just way too close to White Supremacy to me. And that is exactly why I actually have an aversion to the American flag. I've never flown one and I doubt I ever will. So when I saw Barack Obama's quote this morning, I went "Yeah!!" Of course, it's only a matter of time before the Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters of the world start shouting "He's unpatriotic!! He's probably a Muslim lover!! He's no American! Send him back to Africa where he belongs!!" And you know what? Those people just prove his point EXACTLY. It's not what's on your lapel (or bumper or sweatshirt or flagpole), it's what's in your HEART.