Tag Archives: patriotism

Party-pooping patriots: the Texas GOP

Party-pooper: n. A person who ruins a party by either stopping the fun or not participating in a certain activity

Patriot: n. One who loves, supports, and defends one’s country

The Texas Republican party is such a joke. Half of them love America so much that now the Democrats are in charge they want to take their marbles and go home.  Markos’ post was so priceless today that I give you the whole thing:

We now know that half of Texas’ Republicans want to secede from the United States.  So I have some questions for that crowd:

  • Are you flying an American flag? Because you don’t get to do that when you cry and take your ball home.
  • Do you have a bumper sticker that says, “These colors don’t run”? Because it sure looks like you’re running.
  • Do you still pretend that your party is the “Party of Lincoln”? If so, what part of Lincoln exactly, would that be?
  • Since you’ve spent the last eight years saying “America, love it or leave it”, is that an admission that you don’t love America? Because we liberals loved it and stayed, even when your idiot of a president was trashing the place.
  • Was your patriotism (My country, right or wrong) so skin-deep, that it depended 100 percent on the guy in the White House?
  • That $200 billion Texas got in defense contracts between 2000 and 2007? No more of that. No more Ft. Hood. No more NASA. No more federal largesse. You okay with that?
  • You do realize that the Cowboys will no longer be “America’s Team”, right? Though they’d dominate the two-team Texas Football League (TFL).
  • Patriotism based on hope, not fear

    Patriotism: n. love for or devotion to one’s country.

    I’ve never seen nor felt such an attack of patriotism as I did yesterday watching Obama’s Inaugural concert.  Al Rodgers over at DailyKos posted an amazing collection of photos from the event (warning – get out your hanky).

    On of my favorite moments was when the unrepentent dear old radical Pete Seeger sang (with Bruce Springsteen) all the subversive verses to “This Land is Your Land” and the entire crowd of 400,000 sang along with him (undoubtedly the biggest sing-along of his career!). At 89 Seeger  has gone from being blacklisted as a communist in the early ’50s to singing on Washington Mall – by invitation of the President-elect.  It’s a NEW day.

    seeger-springsteen

    This concert was perhaps the most thrilling and inspiring event I’ve ever watched.

    I’m still a total wreck from crying so much.

    So many inspiring words, such a diverse group of presenters, such aliveness in the music.   It felt like the people’s party. All of us. Black, white, rich, poor, old, young. And the look of pure happiness and pride, relief and hope on the faces of everyone in attendance confirmed my own feelings.

    Only a few more hours until America in finally in capable hands.

    Meanwhile, back to the topic of patriotism, a concept that has been so twisted by the Right. Robert Creamer writes about this today at HuffPo (It’s so good you should read the whole thing, but here’s the crux of it):

    It just doesn’t square with the right wing narrative. They painted Barack Obama as an unpatriotic, “terrorist sympathizing” candidate whose values are foreign to the American way of life. How could it be that his ascendance to the presidency should be the occasion for the new patriotic spirit sweeping America?

    … I think there are four reasons why:

    First and foremost, Obama and his call to service — to commitment — has touched our most fundamental self interest — our desire for meaning.  Obama understands that to have a real sense of significance, you have to have a commitment to something outside of yourself. You have to be willing to sacrifice. The right wing’s belief that if every one simply pursues their own individual interest the “invisible hand” will assure that the public interest is served doesn’t work in practice — a lesson delivered graphically by the 2008 crash of Wall Street. But more important, it doesn’t address our overwhelming need to live lives that mean something…

    Second, Obama — his campaign and his transition – have been unequivocal in their willingness to hold up and unapologetically celebrate the principles that lie at the heart of traditional progressive American values: unity not division; hope and optimism not fear and cynicism; tolerance not prejudice; that it’s the right thing to help your neighbor not just yourself; that we’re all in this together — not all in this alone. They have refused to allow the right wing to claim the symbols of America for their nationalistic, exclusionary vision of “patriotism”…

    Third, the new patriotism results from relief. Americans are relieved that they once again can be proud of the way their government acts in the world. Obama has pledged unequivocally to end torture, secret prisons, the practice of capturing people on the streets of foreign nations to “rendition” them (or disappear them) to other countries. He has pledged to end the Neo-Con doctrines of unilateralism and pre-emptive war. In other words he has pledge to return America to its standing as a moral leader in the world…

    Finally, the election of Obama makes us proud of ourselves. We are proud that we have elected the first African American president. We are proud that from the all-white “Norman Rockwell” communities of Iowa; to the roadside bar with “Rednecks for Obama” on the marquee; to the suburbs of Philadelphia — our fellow Americans have been willing to put centuries of prejudice behind them. And we are proud that we have reaffirmed America’s founding principle: that we are a society that truly believes that all human beings are created equal; that America truly is a society where every child, of whatever background, can aspire to be President of the United States — or anything else he or she wants to be.

    Pandemonium! Barack rocks the house

    Pandemonium: wild uproar and noise

    When Barack Obama stepped out to speak to the immense crowd (84,000!) gathered at Invesco Field, the uproar went on and on and on and on. [Update: Nielsen reports that more than 38 million people watched the speech on TV – and that doesn’t count the smart viewers who watched on PBS or C-Span. This is more than watched the pagaent that opened the Olympics, more than watched the final “American Idol”- gack]

    What a night this was for the Democrats and for Barack Obama.

    First of all, he is like a buddha – open heart, big smile, unflappable. How can you not be drawn in by the warmth he exudes so naturally? (Biden too. In fact I can’t recall a more appealing double bill than Obama-Biden.)

    Then there’s the matter of his intellect and vision.  WOW.  The speech was certainly one of the greatest I’ve ever heard.

    You can find the text online in many places, but here are my favorite excepts (emphases mine):

    Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach.

    These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

    America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

    Now, I don’t believe that Sen. McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn’t know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

    [That promise says] each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

    It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

    Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves — protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

    Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work.

    That’s the promise of America — the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.

    And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents; that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

    Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility — that’s the essence of America’s promise.

    The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America — they have served the United States of America.

    So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

    America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can’t just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose — our sense of higher purpose. And that’s what we have to restore.

    We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. [Preach it brother, preach it! This is ballsy talk!]

    Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This, too, is part of America’s promise — the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

    I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

    This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

    Instead, it is that American spirit — that American promise — that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

    That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours — a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot. …

    Amen.

    Patriotism as poppycock

    I drove across the country a few days after 9/11.  I saw enough flags and “God bless America” billboards, and heard enough patriotic poppycock to cure me of this hollow rhetoric forever.

    More on patriotism today – this from Bob Herbert at the NY Times:

    “…Anxiety seems more intense than the usual concern for a cyclical economic downturn. Something fundamental seems to have gone haywire. David Boren, a former U.S. senator who is now president of the University of Oklahoma, has written a short book that he called, “A Letter to America.”

    His sense of alarm in the opening paragraph could not have been clearer. “The country we love is in trouble,” he said. “In truth, we are in grave danger of declining as a nation. If we do not act quickly, that decline will become dramatic.”

    I couldn’t agree more. The symbols of patriotism — bumper stickers and those flags the size of baseball fields — have taken the place of the hard work and sacrifice required to keep a great nation great. [emphasis mine]

    He goes on to describe the Bush administration’s sanction of torture, our economic mess, airline woes, energy crisis etc etc etc…

    We can build spectacular new stadiums for football and baseball teams (the Yanks, the Mets, the Giants and the Jets are all getting ready to move into staggeringly expensive new homes) but we can’t rebuild New Orleans or reconstruct the World Trade Center site destroyed almost seven years ago.

    This year’s presidential election is the perfect opportunity to place the truth before the American public in the form of a realistic examination of the state of the nation, and an honest consideration of creative ideas for moving forward. Instead, we’re getting hour after hour and day after day of trivia: Who’s up? Who’s down? Who’s patriotic? Who’s not?  [yechhh]

    Mr. Boren believes that the combination of unrestrained partisanship and the corrosive influence of big money have all but paralyzed the political process. He worries about the neglect of the nation’s infrastructure, about the growing divide between the very wealthy and everyone else, and about “the catastrophic drop in the way the rest of the world views us.”

    The U.S., with its enormous economic and military power, is still better-positioned than any other country to set the standards for the 21st century. But that power and leadership potential were not granted by divine right and cannot be wasted indefinitely.

    Patriotism has its place. But waving a flag is never a good substitute for serious thought and rolling up one’s sleeves.

    Amen brother.

    Patriotism and the Pledge of Allegiance

    If you’re an American citizen, or went to public school here, or been a Scout, you have said the pledge of allegiance hundreds of times. Me too.

    Even though I am deeply committed to my native country, I do not like this pledge. Pledging allegiance to a flag (??) proves nothing about a person’s patriotism.

    My original Toastmasters club opened every meeting by saluting the flag, which I found particularly troublesome since members may not be American citizens (or believe in God, for that matter)  and what the heck does the pledge have to do with public speaking anyway???  I stood, but I didn’t speak or put my hand on my heart.

    My aversion comes partly from my own spiritual makeup. I’m resistant to reciting anybody else’s pledges or creedal statements – if I’m going to pledge my commitment to my country or to God, I want to use my own words.

    But my biggest problem comes from the way folks treat the pledge as a sacred text. Far from it! It resulted from a commercial advertising campaign.  (Hey, it’s America!)

    Here’s the history:

    In 1890 the owners of a popular children’s magazine, Youth’s Companion, were selling flags to schools as a premium to promote their magazine. They had sold 26,000 but after a year or two sales were flagging, so they asked Baptist minister Francis Bellamy to write a “Pledge” to accompany their flags, so schools had something to DO with the flags to help boost sales, which he did.

    The original pledge: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

    The magazine publishers then lobbied President Benjamin Harrison to proclaim October 21 of that year a general holiday to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America – envisioning (their) flags flying over every schoolhouse in the country, and schoolchildren gathering to recite this pledge. Harrison obliged.

    Pretty soon the pledge became a common way to start the school day. It was done with hand over heart then raised to the flag (heil Hitler style) till WWII, when it was deemed too Nazi-like, and since then we’ve kept our hand on our heart.

    In 1923 the words “to the flag of the United States of America” were added

    In 1954 “under God” was added. This was at height of anti-communist fervor during the Cold War – Senator McCarthy was equating atheists with godless communists – as if a change to the pledge would stamp out atheists.

    There have been objections to the pledge since Day One:

    • People thought it was wrong to indoctrinate school kids with a nationalist pledge, especially when most of them had no clue what the words meant. Indeed, I remember wondering for years about our “invisibility”. Ours is the only western country where many schoolchildren take a pledge of allegiance daily.
    • Some religions forbid praising any image (the flag) as idolatrous.
    • Some objected to the word “indivisible” because they support the right of states to secede from the union.
    • And some objected to the addition of the words “under God” as not separating church and state.

    My other problem with the flag salute is that it smacks of forced but empty patriotism.

    The very word “patriotic” is problematic these days.

    • “Patriotic” to the Bush administration has meant “Shut up and trust us. If you disagree with us, you’re un-American, unpatriotic, unChristian, and you’re supporting the terrorists.”
    • “Patriotic” to me is about deeds, not words. It means being an informed and active citizen who is unafraid to speak out, and who gets involved in making our country accountable to its lofty ideals.

    So… what do you think about the use of the pledge of allegiance? When is it appropriate? How do you feel when you say it? Talk to me.