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The Public Display of Patriotism Test

| 70 Comments | 4 TrackBacks
In conversations with Tom Holsinger, he and I hit on a test that smokes out American haters of all stripes as well as Americans who lack patriotism. It is really simple: “How does a person react to a public display of American patriotism?”
I am not talking about people getting ticked off at the commercial speech of used car salesman wearing American flag lapel pins under a 150-foot flagpole with a mega-sized old glory flown 24-hours a day in all weather. Nor the inappropriate patriotic displays like those of people who have tattered rags that were American flags on their cars, which should be disposed of per the flag lore in any Boy Scout handbook. No I am talking about the revulsion against vulgar displays of defiant and simple minded patriotism found in Toby Keith’s song ''COURTESY OF THE RED, WHITE & BLUE (THE ANGRY AMERICAN)'' (See here, here, here, here, here and most especially this act of self-parody from the UK Guardian), or shmaltzy 1940’s patriotic themed movies, or more recent films like Mel Gibson’s WE WERE SOLDIERS, or President Bush’s “Top Gun” landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. You can smoke out who is what by how they react to public displays of patriotism (PDP). Those who feel “threatened” or “oppressed” by "simple minded and vulgar" displays of real American patriotism are America haters. People who feel that way are against the very concept of America and American liberty. Most activist Democrats are in this group and they have a positively "vampire-to-garlic reaction" concerning PDP's. They are also, in the main, Transnational Progressives. There is also a class based “value cluster” associated with this America-hate that this statement by Dixie Chick lead singer Natalie Maines on Toby’s song makes clear: bq. "Don't get me started," Maines told the Los Angeles Daily News. "I hate it. It's ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant. It targets an entire culture - and not just the bad people who did bad things. You've got to have some tact. Anybody can write, 'We'll put a boot in your ass.' But a lot of people agree with it. The kinds of songs I prefer on the subject are like Bruce Springsteen's new songs." (Two personal asides, first, will someone please wack Ms. Maines with a clue by four? We are out to destroy totalitarian cultures world wide because tyranny anywhere is a threat to Americans everywhere. Totalitarian tyranny's export terrorism to maintain domestic control. Only by expanding the boundaries of freedom with America be safe. Second, I didn't see any of Bruce's songs from that album as "patriotic." If you want a less vulgar but mega-patriotic tune, try Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American.") Next, those who are made uniformly uncomfortable by other folks PDP aren’t patriotic. This unfortunately includes a significant fraction of Liberal Democrats, but not the majority. Third are those who feel nothing and ignore PDPs save on suitable occasions, like July 4th, when a fair portion engage in PDP's themselves. The last group is those who react positively to public displays of patriotism at any time. These people are flag waving patriots. And they are very, very, very negative in their reaction to anti-patriotism as well. Blind partisanship also plays a role in informing people's patriotism of the above four groups. There were a large number of anti-Military/anti-Patriotic Democrats that had "Inauguration Day Patriotic Conversions" when President Clinton was sworn in in 1992. Fly overs by military fighter jets were no longer symbols of "Reagan-Bush Republican Oppression" but were now tools of "Rightious Democrats." There is also a faction of the Republican party that uses the American flag as a tribal totem not unlike the Irish using Orange and Green banners. These Republicans feel like they are eating a seven course meal of ashes when they see a Democratic President successfully using PDPs. Of course, not all Democratic activists are anti-American. As I was writing this post, I sent it off a draft to my e-mail "list of usual suspects" and got this back from Bob Harmon, Head of the Marin County, CA ACLU:
I can tell you that as a Democratic Party official, and as an ACLU activist, I see no problem with displays of the flag. I wear enamel flag pins on my suit any time I'm at a convention, and no one has said boo. I have US flag pins, US flag/California flag pins, and one that combines the US and California flags with the official seal of the Governor of California. (That last was a give-away at the last two conventions). I've balked, however, at US flag neckties. Those, too, are sold in merchant's curio stalls at those conventions. Make of that what you will. I believe the post-9/11 impulse to wave the flag is a good one. It's better to hang out flags than people, if you get my drift. However, the flag I display at annual meetings of my ACLU Chapter, which I chair, is a 3x5' "Don't Tread on Me." I told the crowd that the modern translation is "Kiss my Ashcroft."
I think the proof of the pudding in this theory will be the reaction to the Republican's September 2004 Presidential Convention in New York City. It is going to be crass, shmaltzy, politically vulgar and oh so in your face partisan-patriotic that the leftie America-haters are going to go insane. I know I am going to get some popcorn to channel surf the cable news coverage of the convention just to see how much the newsies on the inside agree with the Anti-War protestors on the outside. The verbal confrontations between Republican activists and anti-war protestors outside the convention is going to be as much fun as a WWF pre-performance shouting match. UPDATES: · Stryker comments · Donald Sensing comments

4 TrackBacks

Tracked: July 30, 2003 2:19 AM
Excerpt: Hopefully the display of doctrinal impurity won't cause any of your tiny little minds to explode, but someone else whose...
Tracked: July 30, 2003 2:31 PM
Excerpt: Donald Sensing has some interesting thoughts on the flag waving debate seen on Winds of Change and Sgt Stryker. My sentiments line up pretty closely...
Tracked: July 30, 2003 10:46 PM
Public Displays of Patriotism from Master of None
Excerpt: Donald Sensing discusses two essays about Public Displays of Patriotism (PDPs); the first by Trent Telenko, and a response by Sgt. Stryker. Trent disparages those who feel "oppressed" by PDPs, and then Stryker takes him to task, writing that many...
Tracked: November 14, 2004 6:03 PM
Phentermine from Marina Gruber
Excerpt: Hi, I think you are right - and I like your site... keep up your great work... Marina, Berlin


Sheesh. Could you have set the bar any lower? This test is tooo obvious. You need something far more sophisticated to allow those who really hate America to continue pretending that they don't.

I'm not exactly sure what that would be, but you could start with something like "rabid, knee-jerk dissent AND flag burning = expression of free speech and love of county." Or something like that. You don't want to be unnecessarily divisive during this time of war...and force those who hate America to actually admit it, do you? It’s your patriotic duty…

I have this image of a Democratic activist, in full nun, whacking knuckles with a ruler for the offense of holding flags.

Most of us ignore PDP's, some are uncomfortable at seeing them, some love it and some get an urge to whack the knuckles of those engaging in such behavior.

I guess I'm anti-American, because I am repulsed and annoyed by stupid Nashville-style cornball country hyperpatriotism.

I live in a town that is big on the flag. Every parking meter has a socket for a flagpole, and every national holiday, they have borough employees riding in the back of little yellow Toyota pickups, putting out the flags. Hell, I even know where they store the flags, rolled on their poles in a couple barrels in the garage down the hill from me. I have my own flag I hang in my window for those holidays, indoors in case there's a rainstorm while I'm not there to bring it in. I've got nothing against reasonable, quiet, flag-waving patriotism.

I do have a problem with the jackass the next valley over, who thought it would be patriotic to post along the highway a big mural of a cartoon eagle swinging around the severed head of stereotyped Arab, suitably editorialized with a load of stupid, jingoistic, racist crap. I do have a problem with loud and pushy "patriots".

I can't abide demonstrators. I don't care if it's black ski masks, absurdist puppets, and anti-globalism, or red-white-and-blue clothing, chants of "USA! USA! USA!" and jingoism, it's undignified, crass, and obnoxious.


Isn't your argument (if that's what it is) sort of self-defeating? If you set out to prove that flag waving can be tawdry and vacuous, you've sure convinced me.

Seriously, is this satire? "Smoking out" America haters? My judgments concerning the relative artistic merits of Lee Greenwood and Bruce Springsteen may lead to a scarlet "U" for "Unpatriotic"?

I wore an American flag lapel pin for several months after 9/11. Tiny little thing, much like the one Pres. Bush wears. I was uncomfortable for a few minutes, being unaccustomed to PDPs, but it quickly became normal to me.

Here's an interesting datapoint, though: when I wandered around the real world, here in San Diego, I saw a great many American flags and patriotic décor. This was late 2001. But at a computer trade show I attended at that time: nothing. A few thousand attendees, and I was the only person I saw wearing an American flag pin.

I should note here that, like I said, this was a SMALL pin, and it was my ONLY display of patriotism at the show. It was the only political speech I made at that show, I was there as a computer trade journalist covering a trade show, as I have done hundreds of times, and my behavior and conversation was entirely focused on that -- along with the usual ration of gossip and smalltalk ("Oooooooo, Cinnabon!")

I think that one's reaction to PDP's (great abbreviation, by the way!) is partially a function of geography.

I live in Los Angeles, and I love PDP's. I have an American flag sticker on my car. I wear one of those Old Navy American flag T-shirts on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

One of the reasons why I display the flag is becuase I live in a very liberal area. My choice to engage in PDP's makes me feel morally superior to my neighbors who don't engage in them. I also take a sort of sadistic pleasure in displaying my flag, knowing that so many of my neighbors will be offended by it.

But I can see myself taking precisely the opposite position if I lived in the Deep South. We spent a week in the Ozarks one summer when I was a kid, and I distinctly remember all the survivalists and white supremacists riding around in their camoflaged station wagons (this was in the days before SUV's). These guys were big on the American flag. They were all members of groups with names like the "American Patriot Regiment" and stuff. They all flew American flags, or at least the ones who weren't flying Rebel flags did.

I haven't been to the Ozarks lately, but I'm sure that it is a veritable sea of flags. The white supremacists and survivalists (I guess they are called "millitia" today) probably have more flags than anyone.

In such an environment, I can see being offended by PDP's. Sometimes people use the flag as a symbol of white trash bigotry instead of a symbol of patriotism. If I lived there, I probably would still fly the flag, but I'd be careful not to overdo it.

Well, I don't know about the Ozarks. Up here in the northern Alleghenies, the Klan, militia, and cracker pride boys prefer the CBF. I've yet to see a vehicle with both a CBF front plate and any variant on the American flag motif.

The PDHP (public displays of hyper patriotism) folks were out in force at the Fourth this year. Sitting along the verge of the highway, waiting for the big fireworks show - there they were, blaring Keith and that "Proud to be an American" tune out of the back of their minivans, while their kids set off bottle rockets in the narrow little strips of verge between the clustered cars. I was waiting for one of them to set a car on fire, or blow a hand off like one of my Ohio relatives did when he was a kid. Good fireworks show, though. Made up for the bad country music with a decent helping of Dvorak & Copland.

preferring Bruce Springsteen to Toby Keith = UnAmerican. How can you love your country if half your postings are hysterical denunciations of large numbers of your fellow Americans?

Let me repeat my earlier question. Suppose the Democratic candidate wins the election. Will
you be a loyal opposition, or not? Were you part of the loyal opposition during the Clinton years?

Well, let me take a guess, Roublen; I doubt Trent was out rioting in Seattle and elsewhere during the Clinton years, denouncing America, like the "patriotic fellow Americans" you are defending were then and have just shifted to anti-Bush hysteria now.

I guess it's just become an empty platitude now, but the oath that office holders in America take an oath to "obey and defend the constitution
of the United States against all enemies both foreign and domestic

I know that "questioning someone's patriotism" just because tons of people tend to believe that anyone with an unapologetic love of this country, who's not ashamed of it, is to be sneered at as some sort of jingoist is one of the unbreakable taboos, but there is a "Patriotism Gap".

Their are problems with Trent's test, as with any quick-rule-of-thumb; for example, as already happens sometimes, it's all too easy for people to pull off a Maskirovka and assert that they're the real patriots &tc &tc, blah blah blah - it's just that they despise the country's founding (by "slaveowning plutocrats") and history (defined by them solely in terms of "exploitation, opression, and imperial expansion"), way of life (the evils of capitalism and imperial exploitation, our unique role in destroying the environment), the source of all the world's problems (if Kim Jong il opresses his people, it's because we force him to. On the one hand countries are poor because we trade with them, on the other hand countries - like Cuba & North Korea - are poor because we refuse to), &tc. &tc. ad infinatum ad nausium.

But you point the accusing finger of blame at people who object to those among us whose views of the country, it's people (too many unsophisticated rednecks who don't know that liberation lies along the Socialist path) and want to preserve what we see as valuable in this country from those, including those at home, who assault it. But I'd love it if you showed me some links to places where you condemned expressions of that attitude among the Left, and their naked hostility to Americans who don't share their views, as strongly and as frequently as you're condeming Trent's. That would be enlightening.

A few months ago our local market had a sale on small US Flags with the car window clip. They were cheap so I picked up a few, and offered them to friends. (to save them a trip)

One interesting response from a Leftish friend:
"No thanks, I wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea."

After a bit of thought, I had to agree: I wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea about them either.

"Joe Schmoe" - great comment.

And Roublen, hate to bust anyone's bubble but there are a LOT of conservatives who prefer Bruce Springsteen to Toby Keith.

Remember, this is the man who drove the stake through disco's heart. We really cannot thank him enough.

Though I have to admit, watching "Born In the USA" become a patriotic anthem down in the USA was (a) Very surreal; (b) Very funny in an irony-tinged sort of way; and © Proof positive that the Moral Majority types can take music right off their list, because nobody actually listens to song lyrics.

Beyond that... it's not a perfect test, Trent, but as a rule of thumb it's a pretty good one.

I also find it interesting to watch the shift happening within the Right, as they begin to target this particular weakness within their opposition more and more forthrightly (A.L.'s "abusive parents who say they love their kids" metaphor nails the Anti-American Left perfectly). I'd say this is a trend gathering force.

ive always felt deeply patriotic, pro american, and pro freedom. that includes appreciating the flag (everything aside, its a cute design - who couldnt like it?), but it also includes having always felt that flag burning can be intensly patriotic. flag burning does not have to be anti american (of course it can be - rachel corrie types spring to mind). to go out there, on the steps of the capitol for example, and to set fire to the flag of the nation you love to show and remind your fellow americans that what the flag represents includes the ability to set fire to that flag, and even moreso that our freedom and our nation are not consumed by the fire - just as in our national anthem our flag was not destroyed by the battle (just beaten up a bunch and still standing), is something that i find to be very inspirational. besides, i like fire, its nice and warm and colorful. lots of fight in it, just like us.

maybe its a cultural thing, having grown up in ny mostly, surrunded by jewish culture... what with the burning bush that is not consumed by the fire and all.

oh that could so be taken the wrong way by violent anti-war bush-haters.

there is probably some of a buddhist influence of appreciating the impermanance of things, and the jeffersonian influence of being every vigilant of our freedom. when a flag is burned by someone who is genuine in their passion for freedom and for our nation, there is something sharp and lasting about watching as fire reminds us that our flag, our nation, our freedom, and our lives are not invulnerable. those that want to forbid the practice are really just afraid of a life where anything is unknown or not pinned down safely. doesnt strike me as much of any appreciation of freedom or america on their part. i guess i just think our country is much stronger than they do.

Ditto on what Balagan said.

It is for those reasons, and some others, that immediately after September 11th 2001, the excessive flag display made me more than a little bit uncomfortable.

I was in New York City and was immediately hearing reports of Middle Eastern city-dwellers being beaten up, proposals for national identity cards and people being charged with felonies for just being in the village. I looked around at the people, the atmosphere... no one was sane. Everyone was in a daze or with some crazed look in their eyes. I looked around at the flags that went up immediately and I thought about how much my freedom and my country mean to me... I thought about what would happen to me if I burned a flag in this environment. Not that I would have, but it is a freedom that I treasure. It made me shudder.

I was also confused. I didn't quite understand what the connection was between the attacks and the American flag. We were attacked in New York. What does New York have to do with America?

I have, since then, relaxed to the PDP's I find in the city and elsewhere. It is more comforting than the rabid anti-Americanism that I'm surrounded by at school. But there are still plenty of patriotic reasons to feel a little less than perfectly comfortable with certain expressions of "patriotism." The more ignorant of the citizenry of this country have a long history of declaring anything that they don't like as "unpatriotic" (Including things like... oh, say, Judaism, which has at times been associated with communism) and thus, flag-waving displays of patriotism can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

And after the shit that I get put through at school for loving my country, I will not stand for being called unpatriotic.

One more point, which wasn't sufficiently clear in my last comment. It's important to distinguish matters of aesthetic taste from matters of patriotism.

Which is why songs are a terrible indicator to use for something like this. I do have a reaction when I hear Toby Keith's song, and it IS "vampire to garlic". Has nothing to do with America, I just think it sucks as a song. Not a big Toby Keith fan, either.

On the other hand, when city councils actually ban the display of their country's flag, or someone wants to put a flag in every classroom and people object - that's a pretty good indicator of a hostile mentality.

Balagan - I would say that burning an American flag is most definitely anti-American. I can't see any other way of interpreting the action.

Still, flag-burning is also Constitutionally-protected speech, unless you take a view of the First Amendment that's so narrow that even a strict constructionist would find it too restrictive.

GRS - I was not in New York immediately after Sept. 11, but I would say that looking a little insane, in a daze or crazed is perfectly appropriate given what New Yorkers went through. I was 3,000 miles away and I was rather dazed that day, because my family and many of my friends are in New York and I was afraid for them. My brother was in his office in midtown and he was afraid for his life all day. That kind of fear leaves psychological scars, especially when you drop a plane in Queens a few weeks later. (Remember that? Turned out to be a simple accident, nothing to do with terrorism, but that's not how it looked at the time.)

Moreover, while there were threats against Moslems and Arabs, and there may have been some violence (although I don't remember any), there was also a great deal of outreach to the Moslem community. I do recall at least one mosque being vandalized, and Christian and Jewish leaders making public statements denouncing the acts.

That kind of decency in the face of a national attack is unprecedented as far as I know. Even during World War II -- a/k/a "The Good War" -- we interned Japanese-Americans in prison camps for no crime other than being Japanese-American.

If the situation were reversed, and crazy Americans attacked an Arab country, is there any doubt what the reaction of the Arab street would be?

if as a jewish granchild of holocaust survivors who has a deep personal connection to the significance and lethality of antisemitism i decide at some point to fight against european "hate" censorship laws by knowingingly and intentionally wearing a swastica on a small chain around my neck to show that it is the same kind of supression of speech and expression that is enbodied by those hatespeech laws that the nazis were equally guilty of -- or in other words to show that the european laws pay lip service to symbols of freedom while forgetting freedom itself... would that be antisemitic of me?

the same hold for burning an american flag.... if an intensly proamerican person like myself who is as passionate about freedom as about life felt it appropriate to burn an american flag not only because it is allowed under the constitution but rather because i felt personally that it could be a good, proamerican, powerfully symbolic action in support of my country, my flag, and the freedom that gives them life... where for example i was taking that act out of the hands of those who are antiamerican and thereby depriving them of one more thing they can for now lay singular claim to... how exactly can you suggest that my action would be anti american.

to me it isnt about a right to dissent. it is about a mainstream embrace of freedom and of country. fire is not a bad thing. our flag is not a bad thing. the act of burning the flag can show that we are stronger than the actions taken against us. that even when our symbols are destroyed, their essense, our freedom, our nation, and our fight still rises from the ashes.

i am not fool enough to think that 99% of those who would support flag burning think of it as i do. i am not fool enough to think that spoiled little america haters like rachel corrie and her idolizers think of our flag or the act of burning it in the way that i do. but your statement was not about what most people feel or think... it was about whether it was possible to burn the flag as an act of honest patriotism at all. i am living proof that it is possible to support flag burning for reasons that couldnt be any further away from antiamerican.

Mitch, you completely miss my point.

I'm not talking about politics here. I'm not talking about "well, this act of aggression was balanced by this act of outreach and it was actually really good overall..." No, I'm talking about being there and seeing what I saw and hearing what I heard and being afraid. I'm not saying that being dazed and crazed after an event like what happened on September 11th is inappropriate. I'm saying that it was scary. I'm saying that I saw too much potential in it for things like violence as patriotic expression. And that was what I was hearing about at the time... on September 11th, 12th, 13th... Everything was uncertain. There was a strange quiet which one felt could go either way... I saw overwhealming expressions of love and brotherhood in the face of shock and mourning, and I saw people snapping. I saw a huge threat to the very freedoms that we were so vehemently vocal about protecting in certain expressions of "patriotism" occurring at the time. Middle Eastern immigrant shop owners and cab drivers hung American flags out of fear. They knew that if they didn't immediately hang the stars and stripes they were likely to be targeted for harrassment or beatings. They also hung them because they had been attacked on September 11th as well. The point, though, is that in that atmosphere, they felt that they had to prove their patriotism in order to avoid violence, something which undermines the freedom of all Americans.

Yes, I remember the plane in Queens. It was two days after my 20th birthday. You don't forget planes falling out of the sky in your home town two days after your birthday, almost hoping that it was terrorism... I didn't want to believe that our airspace regulation was still that fucked up, especially after what we'd been through two months previously.

As for your assertions about flag burning, you are simply wrong. The American flag stands for freedom. One of those freedoms is freedom of expression. The freedom to burn the flag that stands for your freedom is a freedom that the flag stands for. In that sense, excercising the right to destroy the symbol of your freedom is one of the highest forms of celebration of and reverence for our freedom, our nation, and the flag which represents us. Even when the flag is gone, our freedom remains intact, and we have the ashes to prove it.

As Bill Maher put it:

"Put a flag on your car. It's LITERALLY the least you can do."

Your "test that smokes out American haters of all stripes as well as Americans who lack patriotism" is one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard.

Is that how you would have stopped the 9-11 hijackers? Hang a flag in the airport and arrest everybody who fails to salute? (Heck, a similar trick worked in The Great Escape.)

Or does your term "American haters" includes people who don't consider themselves America haters. Then what is an "American hater"? Is anybody who disagrees with anything the government does? Anybody who disagrees with Bush? Anybody who disagree with you?

I think that Sargent Stryker nailed my response. His reply somehow reminded me of Major __ de had an 'Office Space' tagline. A twofer!


It sure sounds like you are the totalitarian thinker.

Balagan, you can decide for yourself that burning a flag means anything you want it to mean. If somehow you think setting fire to, and destroying, the primary American symbol is some kind of positive thing, well you're free to think anything you want.

But when you engage in a symbolic act, theoretically the purpose is to communicate some kind of meaning to those who witness it. And to communicate to them, you have to take into consideration what THEY think a particular symbolic act means. Destroying something with fire is not exactly an act with an ambiguous meaning to the great majority of people.

Maybe when you burn that flag on the steps of the capitol, you're saying "I love America". But don't surprised if someone comes up and kicks you in the ass and then says "that's my way of saying America loves you too."

GRS - MarkJ nails it. Burning an American flag is an anti-American act. The flag is the symbol of our country, and burning that flag is an expression of contempt for the entire country.

Similarly, the phrase "United States of America" is a symbol of the country known as the United States of America, and if you speak the words, "I hate the United States of America," I will assume that you, um, hate the United States of America.

And I'm sorry but none of this is subject to opinion where you can say "this is what burning the American flag means to me." Burning an American flag will be interpreted the same way by so many people that its meaning is simply a matter of fact. You may MEAN to say that you are burning this flag because you love America, but the overwhelming majority of people will hear you say that you hate America.

But still, as I said, you have a right to do that if you want to. Free speech is protected in this country, even offensive speech. And nobody has a right to kick you in the butt for burning a flag, because that would be assualt -- although if you wish to express contempt for America, I have a right to express contempt for you.

And you're right -- I did miss your point about the situation in New York, and you're right that it was a scary time for the weeks after Sept. 11, not just fear over terrorism but fear about what the terrorist attack might do to our country. And Arabs living in America were right to fear for their lives.

But still, the worst fears of that period did not come to pass, and that's something we, as Americans, can be proud of.

And until Sept. 11 I was one of those liberals who took offense at public displays of patriotism. I intentionally did NOT say the pledge of allegiance all through high school, when we said it in homeroom each morning. (I think I started that much earlier than high school.)

But since Sept. 11 I've borrowed an attitude from Teresa Nielsen Hayden: I will not let right-wing morons co-opt the symbol of MY country.

This is where we have a fundamental difference of philosophy. Mitch.

You see the pledge of allegience as an expression of respect for America whereas I see it as compelling allegience which is, by its very nature, unamerican. I have no problem with public displays of patriotism, I have a problem with false patriotism. I have a problem with mistaking a symbol for that which the symbol stands for. A flag is a piece of cloth. How is hanging or waving a piece of cloth more patriotic than celebrating the freedoms for which the cloth stands by excercising those freedoms? When the symbol becomes more important than that for which it stands, you have a problem.

It doesn't matter what you think of my expression, and you know that. It is a subtle concept, the celebration of America by means of the destruction of its national symbol. It is hard for many to grasp, but there are those who do. If after having had it explained to you you still don't understand, that is your problem, and as you readily acknowledge, you can't do anything about it. Meanwhile, those who do understand will gather in the warmth of the flame and celebrate freedom, taking back this form of patriotic expression from the anti-American flag burners.

I pledge allegiance to the People
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic
For which We stand
One nation, undivided
With Liberty and Justice for all

At least, that's how I would have liked it.

Sure, that flag looks reeeeeal purty on your Chevy, but how have you helped your countrymen today?

Joe Schmoe does a great job of totally undercutting this argument. Why does he display the flag? To feel morally superior and to piss off liberals. I don't know what this has to do with love of country, but I have a feeling the answer is "absolutely nothing." Obviously, the strawman flag-hating liberal caricature in the article has at least one reason to feel uncomfortable about PDPs.

Yep. I don't know what real patriotism is if it's not the sense of a common bond, even if sometimes a begrudging one, between yourself and most of the people who, alongside yourself, comprise your nation--and I use the term "nation" very deliberately. I have no allegiance to "state" beyond the extent that the "state" continues to serve my "nation".

In other words, mad props to my crew.

GRS - I understand precisely what you are trying to say in burning the flag, and I also know that -- by burning the flag -- you are simply not expressing it.

It is as though you were to call me on the phone, shout obscenities, and then hang up abruptly. You might THINK you're just calling to say you like me, but that's not the way any reasonable person is going to take it.

In what way was does the pledge of allegiance compel allegience? In all my years of refusing to say the Pledge, I was never hassled for it, not once in any way.

Neil - Who is this Joe Shmoe who is hypothetically wearing the flag not to ACTUALLY display his patriotic impulses, but rather to piss off liberals? I know someone earlier in the thread said he was doing that, but I don't see any evidence that he represents any significant number of people.

This entire thread is causing me to despair of the Left even more than I have been, that Leftists can be so unaware of a simple thing like what flag-burning means, and why people display the flag.

Mitch, in response to your comment that the Left is "unaware of a simple thing like what flag-burning means":

The Left believes that nothing is simple, and every expression means the different things to different people.

Thus, a person on the Left can say "even if flag-burning = America-hating to 99.9% of the time, I can burn a flag as a symbol of America-loving"

To the Right, of course, this is utter bull-chips. The Right believes that some things ARE simple, and there can be objective meaning and truth.


That's too post-modern for me and, dare I say, simple. The part of the Left that might believe that is not the part I would necessarily want to be associated with (and relativist thinking is not the exclusive province of the Left).

Some on the Left have concluded that some things ARE in fact fairly straightforward: Christopher Hitchens comes to mind and (since yesterday) Norman Geras.

Usually, 0.1% of the time isn't good enough, unless you want to abandon the entire principle that some things are self-evidently worth defending (like maybe flag-burning?).

How dare you imply that I am a leftist Mitch? Lets please not resort to name calling.

mitch, those same grandparents of mine that survived the holocaust also survived the soviet communists. ive been opposed to communism and the left my entire life with every cell in my being. i used to think i was a liberal until i finally gave up on holding out hope that all those other people who called themselves liberal actually gave a damn about freedom or any other basic human values (my fault for actually thinking they meant what they said they believed in). the idea that you think i am a leftist is worth at least a good laugh or two. im sorry to dissapoint you but it might be you who doesnt understand something here. do not confuse the value of simple objective truth with knowing what it is when you see it.

about the pledge... you may never have been compelled to recite it, but countless students in this nation are. just do a basic search and see what you find. dont assume its all the fabrication of left-liberal moral relativist boogeymen that you apparently see everywhere.

Who said anything about moral relativism?

I love it the way the Right has resurrected the specter of Communism over the past year as a club with which to beat liberals. Next year they'll be calling us Jacobites.

You'll have to excuse me -- I see some left-liberal moral relativists under my bed now, and I need to eliminate them to purify the moral fiber of the dust bunnies.

I was with you until you mentioned Greenwood's "Proud to Be An American," which has got to be the most artistically tone-deaf "patriotic" song of the 20th century. Ignore the words, and it sounds like something out of a 1930s Munich beer hall. And what's with all those dumbfarks who stand up every time it's played? A real patriot only stands for "The Star Spangled Banner," his service song ("Wild Blue Yonder" here), and his alma mater ("The Eyes of Texas," y'all). Everything else is just crap.

Mr. Wagner is clearly unfamiliar with the concept of "taking back" a form of expression from one's enemy. Being "queer" myself, I have a special appreciation for this idea.

Not content with murdering her, Zionists continue to smear and defame Rachel Corrie. Here's a true test of patriotism: if you put Israel First, you're not a patriotic American. Patriots put America First. It's that simple.

Thus, a person on the Left can say "even if flag-burning = America-hating to 99.9% of the time, I can burn a flag as a symbol of America-loving"

Just remember: when I hit you, it just means I love you.

"Just remember: when I hit you, it just means I love you."

right because when a flag is burned its just like setting you on fire isnt it?

guess that means we cant make flags in the sand at the beach, because the ocean would wash it away -- thats just like drowning a person isnt it?

guess we cant make american flag birthday cakes because slicing into it and eating it is just like cannibalism isnt it?

and we all know when you chop my limbs off and serve them as bar-b-que on the 4th of july, you really mean you love me.

im so sorry that such a simple concept of reclaiming a symbolic act from antiamerican idiots is so incomprehensible to so many people.

symbolic expression and violence are not the same thing. violence is pretty damn objective. the of symbolism inherently depends on the people who give meaning to it. if you want to sit around cave-wall watching instead of actually living your freedom be my guest.

Balagan, the First Amendment guarantees the right of any pus-brained maggot to burn the flag. I took an oath to defend the Constitution, so that means I defend the right of the aforesaid pus-brained maggot.
Now. Suppose you burn the flag. You think it means you love America.
But what do others think when they see the act?
They think you're a bleeping bleep-bleep.
So your act is nothing but an ostentious act of self-indulgence, and possibly a deliberate provocation which enables you to think of yourself as a martyr.

Burning a flag is a destructive act. Claiming it is a sign of love or positivity is well ... ill. Ill in the way hitting a woman and claiming it is an indication of 'love' is.

I double dare Balagan to reclaim the swastika from the forces of negativity.

why is burning a flag a destructive act? flags are symbolic. in this case it symbolizes freedom. is our freedom destroyed when a flag is burned?

i think this has more to do with how people think of freedom as some sort of negatively defined right, where we put up with all sorts of stuff we dont like because it allows us to do the things we do like. i think thats a horrible reason to support freedom or to love this nation. there are much much better positively defined reasons to support raw freedom and to love this nation beyond only defending your own self interest. this has nothing to do with how people react to the act of a burning flag. it has to do with respecting honestly what that flag is all about and what the men and women who have died for what it represents fought for. my reasons for supporting the option to burn a flag arent about preserving the right to hate this nation (personally i think that right is overated). my reasons for supporting the option to burn a flag are entirely about the symbolic benefit of being able to protest against those who get so caught up in the permanence of cloth that they forget the actual freedom at its heart.

ive given examples of how the meaning of symbolic actions like these are determined by the people who do them. i realize though that i am wasting my time talking about it with many of the people responding. feel free to continue thinking whatever you want about this.

about the swastika, i wasnt talking about reclaiming it. i was talking about how in nations like hungary - where my grandparents survived both the holocaust (after being in auschwitz and dachau) and the soviets - it is currently illegal to display any nazi or soviet icons and symbolism. i was talking about how in much of europe the concern is more about shielding the populace from any challenging expression than it is about giving a damn about the growth of freedom that would ensure nazis and communists would never see the light of day again. ive been talking about the emotion within the most distilled act of simple symbolic protest i could think of for someone who is as vehemently opposed to everything the nazi swastica represented as myself.

to be truly strong is to be fully open and vulnerable to all things and still remain standing. there is power in that. there is freedom. i mentioned this because it relates to my feelings about the burning of an american flag... where even when we burn the flag, we are still here. just as even as those towers came down on sept 11th (and i happened to be downtown on that day) we are still here. our freedom, our nation, our lives are still here. even in ashes we will rise.

i dont know why it is so hard to see how it would be possible for a group of people to come together to burn an american flag as the symbolic distillation of all of these things, in reverence to america, and in opposition to those who would get their kicks from burning an american flag out of hatred of our country.

honestly i feel sorry for those that would let the haters of america define their emotions and reactions for them. it is not very different from letting the murderers of daniel pearl define for us what it is to be jewish.

Balagan, I've got to believe that you're being cute.

If I take a picture of your wife, Photoshop it onto a nude picture of Angelyne (L.A. reference for everyone), and put it on the web, there's no harm done, right?

And you'd be angry, right?

Because regardless of my intent was to insult your wife...maybe it is only to demonstrate my chops with Photoshop or my (entirely symbolic!!) fondeness for Angelyne, it is nontheless insulting to her and indirectly to you.

Regardless of how I structure my argument, covering you house in shit is still covering your house in shit.

Burning (or tearing or otherwise violently desecrating) national symbols may be otherwise symbolic and have all kinds of alternative interpretations; but in reality, it has a very clear essential meaning.


i dont have a wife. but if i did and photoshopped her head onto the body of say... angelina jolie.. and posted it online for everyone to see id be fine with that. but then maybe thats because i grew up in a different media enviroment where i dont expect to have control of what wonderfully fun things people do with photoshop. :)

the house analogy doesnt work though. maybe if it was a picture of a house. also, not many people think favorably of shit... entire cultures have grown around thinking very highly of fire.


I was only kidding. Well, partly kidding.

The real reason why I started flying a flag on my car is because on September 11, while driving to work on the freeway, the guy in the pickup in front of me had a tied a full-size American flag (the kind you hang from your house) to the tool box in the bed. It felt great to see it, and I really appreciated the symbolism. As soon as I could find one of those car flags, I bought it in order to show my support for my country. In the wake of the attacks, I felt a need to display patriotic symbols. I still feel it; so long as our guys are fighting and dying in the war on terrorism, I display a flag to show that I remember them and apprecaite what they are doing.

That is the main reason why I fly the flag. However, I will admit that I also get a cheap thrill out of PDP's.

This began slowly. Shortly after September 11, I assumed that everyone would be flying a flag. At first, not everyone did, but I assumed that this was due to the fact that there was literally a shortage of flags. It took a week or two for those car flags to become readily available. I had to wait several months to find a license plate holder with a flag motif.

But then I began to realize that even though flags were cheap and readily available, not everyone was flying one. Why not? I wondered. You should know that I live in an extremely liberal area. My conclusion was that people who weren't flying flags had refused to do so becuase PDP's made them uncomfortable. I do feel morally superior to these people, and I enjoy displaying my flag while driving through my town. I hope it makes them uncomfortable, the anti-American lefty bastards. In your face!

I have also noticed that you see a lot more flags on pickup trucks and Chevy Impalas, vehicles favored by working people, than on Mercedes Benzes and Volkswagen Jettas, vehicles favored by the upper middle class. I find this very disturbing. We live in Jetta country, and driving through the streets of our town with my flag on display also gives me an opportunity to get back at my uppity limousine liberal neighbors. As someone who was born and raised in Impala country, I have to admit that this feels good.

I will admit that the latter two motivations aren't the most noble. But they do reflect how I feel. My main motivation is patriotism, but if I can feel morally superior, and get back at my obnoxious yuppie neighbors at the same time, that seems like a nice added bonus to me.

GRS/Balagan - Oho, you're pulling a switcheroo on me! Now you're claiming that what you MEANT to say is that, when you burn a flag you're reclaiming a symbol from the forces of negativity.

That's a completely different matter. Now, can you explain to me what point you'd be making by burning the flag that you couldn't make by displaying it respectfully?

If I lived in Europe, I like to think I would write stern letters of protest to newspapers about their anti-swastika laws, rather than go around WEARING a swastika. People would see me and think I am an Nazi. I don't want people to think I'm a Nazi.

Now, you can say that burning the flag is ACTUALLY a display of patriotism. You can also say that taking a crap on the rug is actually artistic expression, but I'm still gonna make you clean it up.

Balagan, your statement that "honestly," you "feel sorry" for those of us who don't get your point demonstrates your real point. You're not talking about (hypothetically or actually) burning the flag to demonstrate your love of America, you're talking about burning your flag to demonstrate how much smarter you are than the rest of us.

You say the flag is just a piece of cloth? You're kidding?! Why has no one told me of this before? Still, as human beings we infuse objects with meaning. An original Shakespeare folio is just a bunch of crappy old vellum and ink, and yet we recognize some value to it aside from its value as a physical object.

Interestingly enough, remember the Christ Piss display that got people up in arms in New York a couple of years ago? A New York museum showed a photo display which included a photo that the artist claimed to be of a crucifix suspended in a container of urine. There was much handwringing in the newspapers.

Recently, I saw a report from someone who saw the actual photo with his own eyes -- he said if it hadn't been called Christ Piss probably there would be no furor about it at all. It was just a photo of a crucifix on a transparent yellow field; where's the harm in that?

i didnt say i wanted to burn the first american flag or some other original. i didnt say i wanted to burn a flag inside a flamable building (like taking a crap on your rug). i didnt say it had anything to do with being smarter than anyone else. what it seems like to me is that you are the one who has that need.

i am saying that it is possible to engage in the act of thoughtful considerate meditative flag burning in recognition of the intense symbolism that accompanies that flag and out of respect for what it represents. out of observance for the nature of rebirth, or how our nation rises to its challenges just as if rising up from ashes, or how even in the face of fire turning the physical embodiement of our flag into ashes, the spirit of our flag remains as strong as ever.

it is also possible to burn the flag for horrible reasons.

the comments of many here have been all about saying that no its not possible for flag burning to mean anything other than what they choose it to mean... and why? because, well, id have to be stupid to think it was possible.

it seems like people are looking to hear whatever they expect to hear, first calling me and grs leftists (which was worth a good laugh in itself), later all sorts of other leaps. why isnt it possible that i simply have a different view of what flag burning can mean?

to clarify what im saying further: fire good. flag good. why not fire + flag good?

besides, what better way to undermine the antiamerican flag burners than to show how flag burning can be proamerican? havent you ever played tug of war or taken martial arts? is the concept of using an opponents own momentum against them really that foreign?

honestly ive gotten really tired of this topic though. im not about to go and burn a flag. i just didnt understand why everyones thoughts were so set in their interpretation of this. figured there would be a little more openess here to considering ways of looking at this other than the usual binary dynamic. oh well.

Conclusion: one could argue that the harder, but truer test for smoking out the America haters is identifying those who object to PDFBs.



In this country, if I show you the sole of my foot, you might be confused.

In an Arab country, you might respond by... I dunno, smacking me upside the head.

With most people, if you run up to them and yell BELGIUM! They would look at you strangely.

If the person happens to be a Douglas Adams fan, they would understand the literary reference to the most vulgar word in the galaxy and would laugh, or maybe... I dunno, playfully smack you upside the head.

No, the meanings of expressions are not absolute. This is a simple fact. The meanings of expressions are fluid. They change. Words that are socially unacceptable today may have been perfectly fine 100 years ago and vice versa. If I flash you in the street, you might be offended or feel threatened and call the police. If I am your lover, or a stripper however, and I do a striptease for you, your reaction might be different.

People keep comparing the act of burning the American flag to acts of assault or destruction of personal property. If you can't see the falseness of those analogies, you must be pretty dumb. Yes, I remember the crucifix in urine. I thought it was very thought provoking. I remember the painting of the Virgin Mary at the Brooklyn museum just blocks from my home which incorporated elephant dung and photos of female genitals and other fertility symbols which our then mayor couldn't look past his own narrow cultural understanding of. I was thinking then of the mayor "What a freaking idiot." I'm tempted to think the same of you.

The first thought provoked by the crucifix in urine was "I hope my taxes are not paying for this".

For some strange, and commie, pink, looney, leftist reason, I feel compelled to had a comment.

You know, when my flag is tattered or soiled, I'm supposed to burn it as an act of respect and purification. Now, does that mean one of you nazi, fascist, intolerant, gun loving wackos will shoot my brains out if you see me doing it?

Just wondering?

Personally, I don't care if you burn the American flag or wear a swastika on your clothes or urinate on religious objects, but I do believe doing so is a symbol of hatred.

People keep comparing the act of burning the American flag to acts of assault or destruction of personal property. If you can't see the falseness of those analogies, you must be pretty dumb.

OK. I'm dumb. Cool. Then, how about burning crosses? No matter how much it disgusts me I think people should be able to burn crosses and flags; however, I don't feel threatened by such acts. And can either act ever be divorced from the threat of violence or the destruction of personal property? I think the Supreme Court answered this question about crosses recently and said no. Maybe in other cultures burning crosses are good things. The problem is that we don't live there. We live here.

Given the intense and often violent anti-Americanism around the world at the moment, what's to stop burning an American flag from being classified as hate speech? I don't believe in banning speech because people don't like it, but what happens when burning a flag is used as intimidation and hatred? Perhaps the Left's own political correctness will bite it in the ass.

Now, does that mean one of you nazi, fascist, intolerant, gun loving wackos will shoot my brains out if you see me doing it?

Is this a joke?

I remember the painting of the Virgin Mary at the Brooklyn museum just blocks from my home which incorporated elephant dung and photos of female genitals and other fertility symbols which our then mayor couldn't look past his own narrow cultural understanding of.

And in the Middle East it is acceptable to throw acid on a woman's face and murder your daughter if she "dishonors" you. I guess I just can't look past my own cultural understanding to accept this. The painter who created that controversial image was fully within his rights and those who loathed and despised that painting were fully within their rights. Freedom of speech for you but not for me!

What do you think?


Why is it so difficult to draw a conceptual line between free expression and assault or murder? Free expression is an inalienable right. Assault and murder are attacks on the inalienable rights of another, and therefore, not protected as free expression. Try to wrap your head around that for a minute. Try reeeeeal hard.

grs -

This is sophomoric at best.

Expression has content; as much as you may argue that things only mean whay you say they mean, you and your audience are deeply embedded in a social context, and it's only in the imaginings of the MLA that it's otherwise.

The expressions cited were, in fact, intended to shock (I was around when the first wave of flag-burnings became an issue) and arouse reaction. For you to claim that you may freely express yourself, and that I must 'interpret' your expression and own my own interpretation of it is frankly silly. You'll then propose Fish, and I'll counter with Stoppard's great play 'Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth'.

Morally, transgression only carries weight when it is done at the express risk of something - whether an ass-kicking or another form of social opprobrium. If you want to be daringly transgressive and have it mean something, you have to be willing to accept the audience's reaction. Here I'll suggest Marcuse and 'Repressive Tolerance'.



What is sophomoric? My assertion that non-violent expression is a separate issue from assault? My rejection of essentialism with regard to forms of expression? My deeply-rooted iconoclastic values?

you and your audience are deeply embedded in a social context

True. Are you saying that these values are necessarily static?

For you to claim that you may freely express yourself, and that I must 'interpret' your expression and own my own interpretation of it is frankly silly

Yes, it is silly. That's why I never said any such thing. You don't have to interpret anything in any such way. You just can't tell me what I do and do not mean, and you cannot tell me that no one else would or could ever possibly agree with me. If I choose to burn an American flag, having already explained to you the rationale and intention behind the symbolic act (which is perfectly rational and logical, whether you happen to like it or not), you may absolutely still stand there shouting "I don't care what you say, it still doesn't mean what you say it means!" But meanwhile, the culture may shift around you, more people may gather in with an understanding of my intention and with an appreciation for iconoclastic value of the act. My circle will grow and yours will shrink. Eventually, you will be the one at whom people yell "I don't care what you say! The symbol is not more important that the freedom itself!" Haven't you ever read Thomas Kuhn? Don't you know anything about paradigm shifts?

Of course expression has content. It also has context. It does not follow from the fact that these two things are not static and are infinitely challengable and changable that the expression is contentless or inherently meaningless, merely that it is fluid. The flag, being a symbol, has no essential meaning on its own save that which which we imbue it. It follows, therefore, that the burning of the flag could mean any number of things to any number of people. The American flag stands first and foremost for freedom. It stands for freedom. It is a symbol, not to be mistaken for the thing itself. And the burning of the flag, in a certain context, is an elevation of that freedom. It is a reminder that freedom does not reside in a piece of cloth, that no amount of flag waving or lip service can replace that which is most fundamental to our national values... the inalienable rights of every individual. Can the interpretation of symbols be dictated or legislated? How close to thought police do we want to get here? How close to idolatry? You can interpret anything in any way you like, so long as you recognize that the same is true for everyone else... for myself, for Balagan...

Incidentally, why aren't you glad that Balagan and I are actively seeking to transform a symbolic action of hateful anti-Americanism into one of reverence and love for our nation and its values? We've both expressed a profound love for America and the freedom that it stands for, we both support the military and the President in the current war against terrorism and terrorist states, we've demonstrated nothing but positive feelings toward the country of our birth. Why the antagonism over a piece of cloth?

My mother burned a lot of flags in the sixties and seventies to protest the Vietnam War. My brother burns American flags all the time. He is a Berkeley-based activist academic who is extremely involved in political organizing and doing things that he thinks are good for his country (and often are in an entirely unobjectionable way). My other brother is a Republican conservative who loves George Bush and is very big on PDPs. My sister has a flag on her SUV, except that it's upside down. My other sister has a flag on her minivan, but it's placed next to an Israeli flag: big supporter of Israel. I often buy flag themed tee-shirts and baseball caps for my kids to remind them that they are American and should be proud of it (they are half French and live in Paris). I don't think any one of us necessarily loves our country more than any other.

To equate the expressive content of flag-burning with hatred of America is the flip-side of the view that the expressive content of PDPs is necessarily support for U.S. government policy at a given moment. PDPs CAN have that meaning for some people - both for the displayer and the displayee - and that's one of the reason that others don't want to be associated with them. That does not necessarily signal hatred of America. Flag-burning CAN express hatred (more so in Teheran than in Berkeley, I think) and that's why some object to them.

But neither necessarily has those meanings. PDPs can be a mere expression of appreciation for American values, while not signifying blind allegiance to U.S. policies. Flag-burning can be simply (and often is) merely an expression of protest, without signifying hatred of America (which I think is close to Balagan's and grs' point). But I wouldn't want to impose any of the possible interpretations on anyone.

One of the reasons why I display the swastika is becuase I live in a very Jewish area. My choice to engage in PDP's makes me feel morally superior to my neighbors who don't engage in them. I also take a sort of sadistic pleasure in displaying my swastika, knowing that so many of my neighbors will be offended by it.

Just a quick aside, you can always tell a real soldier by the tear on the cheek when the pipers march past playing "The Campbells are coming." Patriotism is very much like courage, it manifests itself most when you stand alone,out numbered,and there is no one to mark your passing. Go to Arlington or any vetrans cemetery and you will see the markers of many such "patriots". They are scattered among the many who never faced that moment. This makes none of them less the "patriot", some are lucky,some are not, some just keep humping, even when the fight is done.

What is sophomoric? My assertion that non-violent expression is a separate issue from assault? My rejection of essentialism with regard to forms of expression? My deeply-rooted iconoclastic values?.

Your "deeply rooted iconoclastic values." Being iconoclastic for its own sake is kinda dumb and obnoxious. Also, while it might not be the case for you, it pretty strongly correlates with a sophomoric anti-Americanism intended to show ones superiority to anyone old-fashioned and corny enough to honestly love their country.

In case anyone in still reading this thread. . .
This oldie but goodie cartoon from Tom Tomorrow is still spot on:

Ah, but Ralph, how can you say whether or not the iconoclasm that I describe is "for its own sake" as you say? So far, very few people here have bothered to seriously consider the roots of what I am saying here. The iconoclasm that I describe clearly has a purpose, and that is to serve as a reminder of the transcendent value of the meanings of our symbols over the symbols themselves. This happens to be one of the most essential elements of my religion and culture. It is not some philosophical mumbo-jumbo I picked up in college. This non-essentialist attitude toward iconography and symbolism is what I grew up with.

As for your charges regarding some sort of superiority complex... I have not, at any point in this thread (I don't think) insulted or ridiculed or criticized anyone else for what we've been describing as "PDP's." The closest example that I can think of that you might cite is my discomfort with what happened in New York immediately after September 11th, which I've already pointed out was purely contextual and has since eased. I appreciate traditional displays of patriotism and, in fact, engage in them on my own. As for correlations between iconoclasm and anti-Americanism, on that we strongly disagree. And regardless, even you acknowledge that no such anti-Americanism actually resides in me.

Joe Schmoe wrote:

But then I began to realize that even though flags were cheap and readily available, not everyone was flying one. Why not? I wondered. You should know that I live in an extremely liberal area. My conclusion was that people who weren't flying flags had refused to do so becuase PDP's made them uncomfortable. I do feel morally superior to these people, and I enjoy displaying my flag while driving through my town. I hope it makes them uncomfortable, the anti-American lefty bastards. In your face!

I'd feel a little better about this whole thing if someone actually chose to ask those "extremely liberal" people instead of sitting around and just assuming whatever sort of negative things about their fellow Americans makes it easiest to "conclude" that they're unpatriotic, while reinforcing a self-glorifying self-delusion.

Sometimes I find myself doing the same thing -- reaching decisions about someone (usually an "obvious" right-winger) without talking to them. It's very easy, within my own skull, to construct "conclusions" about those with whom I disagree -- but they have little validity if they're not tied to the real world.

"How do you know that guy's unpatriotic?" "Well, I thought hard about it, and decided he must hate America!"

Such logic is irrefutable -- because it doesn't even attempt to make any sense.


As someone whose ancestors and cohorts fought in every war since the French-Indian fracas, I'll fly a flag (or not) when I goddamn well want to and not at someone else's behest. I haven't got anything to prove and I hate jingoism.

Could someone please explain to me, what is "America-hate"? I am confused. Does it mean splitting off the states, like the Confederacy? Or taking over Canada and Mexico, creating a super-state? Does it mean that we - and liberals especially - stand aside and let foreign nations attack? Like FDR - oops, I mean, like Truman - damn, lets say Kennedy, er, LBJ, er - man this is tough. How 'bout George W, and we'll just call him liberal. So, you mean, like liberal George Bush?

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