And what statement about flag lapel pins could possibly be so outrageous that it merits team-coverage by the S-T? This statement from Sen. Barack Obama:
You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. 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 gonna try to tell the American people what I believe what will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.Obama thinks that words and actions are a better indication of patriotism than accessories? Where's the controversy? I don't see it.
But maybe Obama's chief rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, will identify the offense in Obama's statement and use it to her political advantage:
I think there are so many ways that Americans can show their patriotism: wearing a flag pin; flying the flag; pledging allegiance to the flag; talking about the values that are important to America; teaching your children about what a great nation we have; standing up for those values; speaking out; there are just so many ways that one can demonstrate patriotism.Okay... It appears that Sen. Clinton doesn't see the offense either.
I guess we will have to seek the wisdom of the Sun-Times editorial board to understand the controversy raised by Obama's "patriotism means actions not just pins" statement:
We'll concede that pinning a flag to your chest is a phony litmus test of patriotism. But wearing a flag doesn't have to be phony. Just ask any Iraq war veteran, or any soldier from a previous war, or anyone else who believes that the flag represents the best of America. Why not wear one, and wear it proudly, and explain what it means to you? Isn't that better than having your red, white and blue credentials questioned?Great Cesar's Ghost! Are you kidding me?
What a profoundly craven and shameful sentiment. It is wretched and gutless.
Just how gutless?
A simple, historical analogy makes the pathetic, moral cowardice of the Sun-Times' board self-evident.
The Sun-Times circa 1950: "We'll concede that [Sen. McCarthy's loyalty oath] is a phony litmus test of patriotism. *** Why not [take one], and explain what it means to you? Isn't that better than having your red, white and blue credentials questioned?"
Litmus tests of patriotism aren't just phony - they are anti-American.
Some time ago, several chapters back in the dystopian sci-fi novel that is the Bush Presidency, a friend and I were discussing the assent of authoritarianism in America. In particular, we talked about the invidious manner in which quiet submission to authority was taking root in the guise patriotism.
The way that the measure of an American had shifted from the values you espouse and the life you live to how much you resemble an entry in a Fourth of July parade. The way that people who were willing to cast aside the Constitution, the sacred source of any patriotic pride, questioned the loyalty of Americans who did not bear the external trappings patriotism. The creeping expectation that U.S. citizens must bow down before red, white and blue idols, lest they be be considered un-American.
And we lamented that so many cowards sat silently and let it happen.
"Why not?" asks the Sun-Times.
Why not hide behind a cheap, little pin out of fear of "having your red, white and blue credentials questioned"?
Because a man stands up, goddammit.
A man stands up.