What is patriotism? A dictionary definition might be “the love of or devotion to one’s own country.” That might be expanded to include the institutions which are basic to that country. And further, it might include things that serve to represent that country.
That Constitution guarantees the right of free expression and this opens the gateway to many different interpretations of what “the Republic for which it stands” actually means. Are adherents of some of these differing interpretations less patriotic than those who interpret them differently? Certainly not.
All are entitled to honor the flag, and consequently, the “Republic for which it stands,” even if their ideas of what that Republic is, or should be, differ. But those of one belief are not entitled to claim to be more patriotic than others believing otherwise, no matter how closely they associate themselves with things that represent the country, such as the American flag.
Wrapping oneself in the flag, or having many of them fluttering in the background, doesn’t make anyone more patriotic than if the flags weren’t there. And using the flag to hide unpatriotic ideas is wrong. Traditionally, soapbox orators in New York’s Union Square Park have a flag posted on their platform. That doesn’t necessarily make what they are saying patriotic, but it does celebrate the Constitution’s First Amendment, allowing them to speak there.
The misguided thugs who invaded the Capitol during the Trump-inspired insurrection on January 6, in an effort to prevent the Electoral College votes from being certified, draped themselves in American flags, to give their unpatriotic acts the appearance of legitimacy. They were a disgrace to those flags, and “to the Republic for which they stand.” Some carried the Confederate flag with them, representing sedition and insurrection, further debasing any patriotism on their part. Yet, they thought themselves to be patriots in some perverted way.
Look around you. Notice the American flag on the shoulders of many Americans other than government employees identifying them as such. Notice the flag decals on the helmets of college and professional football players. Look at the flags, often very large, flying from the sides of pick-up trucks. What does that have to do with patriotism? What do they stand for? Sometimes it gives legitimacy to individuals who are not patriotic at all and think the flag represents their ideas exclusively. In an incident during the recent presidential campaign, vehicles attempting to drive a Biden campaign bus off the road were draped in American flags. They were not driven by patriots.
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Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833. If we had lost the Revolutionary War, and remained a part of Great Britain, slavery would have been abolished here much earlier than it was, and the Civil War, our tragically unsuccessful Reconstruction period and much of our present unrest, might have been avoided. If we were still part of the British Empire in 1833 when they abolished slavery, I doubt that Americans would have then rebelled against the Crown for the sake of preserving slavery here … although even today rightwing extremists still continue to do all they can to see that many descendants of slaves are deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.JL
In her column of January 19, distributed by Creators Syndicate, Mona Charen concludes by saying that “The damage to the nation must be repaired by a chastened Republican Party.” That damage consists of their perpetuating the lies which led to the January 6 Trump insurrection attempt at the Capitol.
Charen is no flaming liberal. Her conservative Republican credentials are beyond reproach. That is why it is important that you read this column, and more importantly, that Republicans do.
Check out the column by CLICKING HERE.JL