Unlike many on the right, I don't think Barack Obama (D-IL) is anti-American. He simply supports change for his own sake. He and Reverend Wright are two peas in a pod: to convince others to give them money and power, they exaggerate the bad things about the country and deny the good things.
That describes all liberal politicians, come to think of it. Their desire for change is so great that they discard that which is good in order to be rid of what is bad. The Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play, as the good things once thrown away are sorely missed and never fully recoverable.
So in finding fault in overt patriotism -- flying the flag from private buildings, wearing flag lapel pins, and other public declarations of national loyalty -- the Obama camp wants to throw it all away, to express patriotism through criticism alone. America is great, "despite all its flaws". Why not just say the country is great? Why does every description have to be a left-handed compliment? ("Your wife is pretty, for an old woman.")
An Obama supporter called CSPAN one day, saying that the wearing of an American flag lapel pin is a desecration of the flag, which is not to be worn as clothing. The moderators said that was news to them. Of course it's nonsense, and not at all the reason why Obama won't wear one. He has said he believes it shows false patriotism to wear the pin, that the true patriot speaks out on issues important to our national security.
I would agree that a patriot may, and in some cases must, speak out when things are not right with his country. But it is not the case that he must always do so, and must never praise the country generally as being better than other countries. Pointedly, the only good thing about the country is not that we can criticize it.
I understand the value of individuality, of refusal to conform to public pressure. I also understand symbols, however, and the symbolism of wearing an American flag on your lapel pin (while running for President) is that you identify yourself with your country ... and your fellow countrymen.
Before at least one debate early in the primary process, Obama (a United States Senator) intentionally failed to put his hand over his heart as the National Anthem was played.
Some might call that an oversight, a simple faux pas of omission. But unless he did so with his eyes closed, he could not have failed to notice many others in the audience, as well as all of the other candidates, with patriotic hand over patriotic heart. At that point he had to choose either to recover quickly, and apologize when the music stopped, or maintain his unpatriotic stance. He chose the latter.
A man totally unconcerned with social custom could behave so; Barack Obama is not that man. He is utterly aware of social mores. It was an intentional act, a declaration that he does not hold love for country in his heart, and will not subjugate himself to her by saying so. He may not see it that way, but that's the trouble with abusing powerful symbols.
Is it not possible both to wear a symbol which is immediately understood by all to indicate love for country and show your patriotism as a critic, as well? Can one not hold hand over heart while decrying injustice? It's a foolish point he is to trying to make.
I think Obama only loves America, if he can be said to love her, as a man loves a prized racehorse or a favorite stock he holds. He sees the country as the 'before' picture in a real estate flip: not somewhere he'd like to live, but with a few changes, it will be good enough for someone else.
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