month ago I was at a concert and saw a few people accosting a 15-year-old
for wearing an upside down flag patch. Slowly a crowd of around
20 people began to gather. Some wanted to tear the patch off. Others
wanted to beat him up. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the
group tried to convince him how great America was. Some people mentioned
that he came from an affluent family and he should be grateful for
the opportunity that they had. (Should he also be grateful that
the government confiscates 50 percent of their riches too?)
later learned his father was in the Navy, and he was asked why he
would disrespect the flag his dad could potentially die for. (Why
he'd love the flag that they acknowledge would be responsible for
his dad's death is beyond me, but that's beside the point.).
people tried to find out why he "hated" America, the discussion
devolved to the cliché, "Well if you hate America so much,
why don't you move to Cuba?" (a line I'm guilty of uttering on many
occasions). When he said he didn't want to live in Cuba, he was
asked, "Well, where do you want to live?" He responded, "Well, Canada
and England have socialized medicine." At this point everyone brought
up how he could work within our democratic system to fight for socialized
medicine, and still love America. I thought, "If that's how you
feel, keep the flag upside down."
with the Mayflower Compact, American patriotism has always been
built upon principles and ideas. The country has continually expanded
with more and more hypothetically sovereign states, and has people
from many diverse backgrounds, so it's hard to say that it's based
on blood and soil. The real American ideals are rooted in the principles
of freedom expressed in the Declaration of Independence, and ensured
in the Constitution.
somewhere between Franklin Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, our
concept of patriotism turned into a love of the federal government,
combined with apathy whenever our freedom and money have been taken
away. Many conservatives, especially neoconservatives, seem content
with any fellow citizen so long as he is relatively politically
incorrect, and claims to love America. For example, in June FrontPage
Magazine editor Richard Poe wrote an article about his renewed
faith in multiculturalism after seeing a performance by an all-black
vocal group called The Three Mo Tenors. This was because the audience,
which was composed mainly of leftists and minorities, gave a standing
ovation when the group sang "America the Beautiful."
their idea of a beautiful America probably includes affirmative
action, socialized medicine, gun control, reparations, and other
wonderfully patriotic ideas was beside the point. At the same time,
FrontPage was having a hissy fit over a lone black state rep in
Tennessee refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance, which
progressed to columns that advocated exiling anyone who refused
to say it.
her refusal to recite the pledge does not even indirectly affect
my rights or even those of her constituents. Issues like campaign
finance reform and the patients, bill of rights, two items that
at the time were both very likely to get passed and threatened to
directly eroded the freedom of all Americans, seemed to be ignored
by FrontPage just because their proponents don't burn flags or praise
every single public school student has to say the Pledge of Allegiance
every morning, yet a recent survey shows that the majority of them
thought that the Marxist credo: "From each according to their ability,
to each according to their need" is from the US Constitution. I'm
sure most of these students love America and feel patriotic, but
there's obviously little substance behind that patriotism if they
don't even have a basic understanding of our constitution. Yet I'm
sure most conservatives are more worried about the few who listen
to Rage Against the Machine and go to Free Mumia rallies.
personally enjoy FrontPage and don't want to beat upon them too
much, but they often epitomize the attitude that everything is fine
so long as you say you're a patriot. But what makes one a patriot?
Ralph Nader says he's a patriotic. Nation editor, Victor
Navasky, recently wrote an article claiming that most American
communist spies were patriotic. Even Rage Against the Machineís
Tom Morello says heís "enormously proud to be an American"
though not in the "tradition of slave-owning founding fathers."
not to say communists donít say theyíre patriotic in the "tradition
of slave-owning founding fathers." Lyndon Larouche who used
to claim inspiration from Marx and Lenin, now says his political
influences are Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton
without changing his core beliefs. He publishes a paper called The
New Federalist where he attacked Congress after they closed
a public hospital for "abandoning their constitutional commitment
to promote the general welfare."
course anyone who has bothered to read The "Old" Federalist knows
this is ridiculous, but it shows just how far someone can stray
from our constitutional principles not only in the name of patriotism,
but also in the name of our founders. If you refuse to create any
standards for patriotism other than a vague feeling of pride in
your country, or wanting what you think is best for your country,
it is hard to dispute that any of those people are patriots.
does all this have to do with the kid at the concert? By wearing
the upside-down flag he was making it easier for us to see what
true patriotism is. As opposed to veiling his leftist ideas as "being
consistent with our living constitution," "making America live up
to its true ideals," or "part of the ever evolving spirit of this
country", he promotes them as what they are: anti-American. If Richard
Gephardt, Ralph Nader, or even William Kristol were that honest,
we'd all be much better off.
Epstein [send him mail] is an
undergraduate at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg,
VA. He also runs a Barry
Goldwater tribute site.