Columns 2017

Where did all those patriots go?

Let’s take a stroll through nostalgia lane, back to the time when you had to wear an American flag lapel pin to be considered patriotic. God help the politicians who forgot to put one on because then they were accused of being Kenyan born Muslims who hated America. And if you refused to stand for the national anthem… well, you were just about as close to an ungrateful traitor as you could get without actually being one.

You remember those days, right? It was back when right wing conservatives screamed and tore their hair out if someone didn’t put their hand over their heart during the Pledge of Allegiance or didn’t incorporate a flag somewhere in their apparel. Fox News spent hours lamenting the lack of patriotism displayed by every liberal who dared to go out in the morning without wearing the flag.

Those were the good old days, back when the political right was so patriotic you could almost see Washington, Jefferson and Madison hovering over their heads as they solemnly swore their allegiance to America and their forever enmity to those who didn’t. Yep, it was a great time to be an American so long as you wore that tag visibly on your body.

Fast forward to the present. In a TV interview with Bill O’Reilly, the current person pretending to be president (CPPP) was asked about his relationship with Russia. He responded with admiration for its president. He did this while NOT wearing an American flag lapel pin. In fact, you couldn’t find the flag anywhere on him unless he was using it as his undies.

When O’Reilly pointed out that the current Russian leader was a ruthless individual who took out those he considered his enemies without hesitation (in other words, a murderer), our CPPP answered, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

I waited in vain for all those glorious patriots who wear the American flag on every piece of clothing they own to respond with anger and outrage. Our CPPP had just compared us unfavorably to a country whose dictator killed at will and ruled with not even a hint of democracy in his administration. But the silence that emanated from the right wing corner of our democracy was deafening. Apparently not wearing a lapel pin is tantamount to treason in their eyes. But equating America with Russia in the most negative sense possible is not.

Where were the screams from these so-called patriots for the CPPP’s impeachment on charges of treason? Or was their “patriotism” just a sleazy use of our beloved symbol to hide their real agenda – hate for anyone and anything that reeked of diversity.

I think every reasonable person in the world would like to see all countries getting along, but especially those countries that have the power to melt the earth with their nuclear weapons. So the idea of Russia and America getting along is, of itself, not a bad one. But the idea that we can forge a stronger friendship with a man who approved hacking our election, invading the Ukraine because it would have been a slow week otherwise, and assassinating his political enemies is, to put it mildly, fraught with problems. The fact that our CPPP admires this man as a strong leader is positively frightening, Is Putin the man we want our children to admire? Because the man crush CPPP clearly has on him would lead one to believe that he thinks so.

But it is apparently not frightening to those people who feel that wearing a lapel pin is the ultimate in patriotism and nothing else is needed to prove you are a true American. They blithely skip past the fact that our CPPP thinks we should imitate Russia as though it is some sort of beacon of democracy. If Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton had made those remarks, the right wing conservatives would already have the articles of impeachment drawn up.

So the only conclusion I can come to is that the right wing “patriotism” of the recent past was nothing more than a convenient cover for their real concern – getting someone into the White House who will do anything they want and sign any bill they pass. Apparently for some, patriotism is something that can be taken on and off as easily as a lapel pin. And it has just as much meaning to them.