My last post was a little strong (sorry), and engendered a strong response from someone who thought I was speaking ill of the American flag. Let me be a bit less obtuse. The post was about flag pins, not The Flag. I love the American flag. It is a great symbol of our country, which I also love.
You're right, Anonymous (more on that in a separate post), I don't love the war. But that post actually wasn't about the war at all. It was meant to be a clear reference to what I thought was a ridiculous attack launched at Barack Obama for not wearing an American flag lapel pin.
See, I think symbols are important, but symbolism is just that: symbolism. It isn't patriotism. Flying the flag, or sticking it on your car, or pinning it to your lapel doesn't make you a great American. Just like wearing a cross necklace doesn't make you a faithful Christian. Those symbols can represent your patriotism and faith, but they shouldn't be mistaken for patriotism and faith.
Which is the point Barack Obama made when a reporter asked him why he's no longer wears a flag lapel pin. He gave what I thought was a thoughtful and reasoned response:
"You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin," Obama said. "Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq War, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest.
"Instead," he said, "I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism."
Here's the whole article from the ABC News site: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=3690000
Fox News grabbed this story and ran with it, attacking Senator Obama's patriotism with abandon over the next day or so. I realize that it was a custom made bite, and those are more important than detailed information about the candidates in the current political climate. I also realize that these tactics are employed by both sides. The Democrats had a twelve-year-old read their statement about the President's veto of SCHIP legislation last week. I thought that was a cheap attempt to inject pathos into a situation that was plenty full of it already.
It seems that our country is at a crossroads. We need strong leadership, and we're responsible for choosing the majority of our leaders. It would be nice if the media would focus on helping us to understand where the candidates stand on the issues, not what they wear on their lapels. That's all I was trying to say.