Friday, October 5, 2007

what IS patriotism?

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.


jpogue said...


Here I go.

I have flown the American flag for MANY years. Not just since 9/11. I have always been a proud American and believed in diversification. That's what makes our country great. I consider myself to be basically a Democrat - however, I ususally vote for what the person says he believes in or will do, not the party. Just turns out that it's usually a Democrat that believes the way I do!

I wish more people would fly the flag. It's such a beautiful symbol of our country and what it stands for. It's our history.

I have to admit I became even more patriotic when Jake jointed the military. I am SO proud of what he's doing. He had every oportunity to opt out - in fact, he was kicked out because of his knee. But he believed he needed to finish a job he had started so the firt thing he did when he came home was to join the National Guard. I couldn't be prouder. He's my hero - and dad before him.

I'll fly my flag forever. I want all of our military members to know that even though I may not agree with the war, I believe in our country and support them in their duties.

And I don't care what language you speak - learn to say the Pledge of Allegiance in ENGLISH!

jpogue said...

You're just SEETHING aren't you!!!!

Oh yea, and I LOVE Barack Obama - he's my man!!!

kate said...

Hell no, I'm not seething! You stated your point very eloquently and I love and respect you.

Yes, you are a bit more conservative than I am (hell, everyone's more conservative than I am) but you have a loving, kind heart and you accept people of all colors. And I totally get that you are proud of your son (I'm proud of him too!) and that, for you, flying the flag is a symbol of that.

So you fly your American flag, and I'll fly my freak flag and we'll continue to love and respect each other. Right? :)

As for learning the Pledge of Allegience in English, it may surprise you to know that I agree with you. Just as, if I went to live in Spain, I'd learn their pledge (or national song or whatever) in Spanish. In addition to becoming fluent enough to order in restaurants, speak on the phone and have conversations with the locals. To me, that's a sign of respect for the country in which you are living.

Linda, aka "Lala" said...

Not much left for me to say. You BOTH said it perfectly. But then again, it's not like me to be unable to come up with something to add!

Kate, I so entirely agree with everything you said in your blog. You go girl!

But like Jodi, I do think the flag is a symbol of our history. And I look at it the way they did in the late 1700's and early 1800's. It's our symbol of freedom (as a country of our own) from a country that treated us unfairly. And it continues to be a symbol of freedom and strength from any OTHER country or group that may threaten us. "United we stand, devided we fall." Yes, we all have our differences, but allow us our differences, and we'll stick together when we're needed. Like snowflakes we are fragil and vulnerable alone, but together we can create an avalache of effectivness.

I agree with both of you that the pledge should be said in English, just as the Japanese song should be sung in Japanese, etc. I agree that whatever country you're living in, you should learn their language, for safty, for clarity, and simply as a matter of respect for that country.

I am very proud to be American, a part of the great melting pot. I am proud of our military men and women, our law enforcement officers, our firemen, ambulance drivers, school teachers, scientists, researches, biologists, geologists, ecologists, farmers, ranchers, builders, fabricators, Moms and Dads and everybody else that puts in a good days effort to keep us going.

Long live the United States of America.

jpogue said...

So what are we going to do if Hilary is our Democratic nominee???? I don't like her!

kate said...

Well, I think it probaby WILL be Hillary and I'm ok with that. I don't love everything about her, but I do think she's a strong person who speaks her mind and will, to the best of her abilities, do what she says she's going to. She's not as authentic as Barack, but she has the experience that he lacks. It's time for BIG changes in the white house and I think Hillary can do it, whether you like her personally or not.

Personally, I'd love to see a Hillary/Barack ticket.