Patriotism extends beyond symbols

By Vincent Stigliani 2010

Last month during his tour through Iowa, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama was criticized by many when it was noticed that he was traveling around campaigning in a nice outfit, but without an American flag lapel.

He was deemed “unpatriotic” and “un-American.” After hearing and thinking about this issue, I realized what a ridiculous judgment on patriotism this is.

If he is unpatriotic for not wearing a flag lapel on his shirt, is President Bush patriotic because he wears one regularly?

Obama was able to explain himself well. “You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin,” Obama told a Cedar Rapids radio station. He continued, “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, 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.”

The next day at an appearance in Independence, Iowa, he told the crowd, “My attitude is that I’m less concerned about what you’re wearing on your lapel than what is in your heart.
Somebody noticed I wasn’t wearing a flag lapel pin and I told folks, well you know what? I haven’t probably worn that pin in a very long time. I wore it right after 9/11. But after a while, you start noticing people wearing a lapel pin, but not acting very patriotic. Not voting to provide veterans with resources that they need, not voting to make sure that disability payments were coming out on time.”

The flag is a very important, sacred symbol, but precisely because of that there is always the danger it can be misused to manipulate public opinion. Unpatriotic acts can be viewed as patriotic if they are wrongly proclaimed in the name of the flag.

In the wake of 9/11, there was a surge in American patriotism, and Bush siezed the moment as a chance to go to war in Iraq, waving the flag as he did so.

The “patriotic” Bush hasn’t equipped the troops with adequate body armor, keeps extending their tours of duty despite their exhaustion and low morale, hasn’t provided adequate medical care for those who return home physically or psychologically crippled.

Even though polls indicate that a majority of Iraqi’s, US citizens and American soldiers, and the rest of the world want us out of Iraq, Bush is talking about increasing the number of troops.

Also, Bush, who swore to abide by the Constitution of the United States, has denied many Americans of their rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

Some have been sent to jail and tortured without due process under Habeus Corpus, others have been illegally wire-tapped, and still others arrested for wearing tee-shirts deemed to be “unpatriotic.”

Barack Obama was right. Wearing a flag lapel pin does not qualify you as a patriot. You only deserve to wear this pin when you act like a patriot. Otherwise you are mocking the flag rather than honoring it.

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