Right after 9/11 flags popped up everywhere. They were a symbol of pride in our country. They were a rallying point for a nation. My boss came by and gave each of us flag pins to wear, and we all did so on a regular basis.
It wasn’t long, however, until people were trying to say something about people that wore or did not wear a simple pin. Evening News anchors were judged as either unbiased or biased depending on whether they wore a pin. Soon, people started associating the pin with a political party instead of support for the country.
In a nation that is polarized as ours is, it is not hard to see how it went this direction. Presidential candidate Barack Obama recently stopped wearing his pin:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says he no longer wears an American flag lapel pin because it has become a substitute for “true patriotism” since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
He commented on the pin in a television interview Wednesday and then again on Thursday at a campaign appearance in Independence, Iowa.
Noting the TV interview, he told the campaign crowd, “I said, you know what, I probably haven’t worn a flag pin in a very long time. After a while I noticed people wearing a lapel pin and not acting very patriotic.”
“My attitude is that I’m less concerned about what you’re wearing on your lapel than what’s in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who serve. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and ideals. That’s what we have to lead with is our values and our ideals.”
I have a problem with this logic on three levels.
Patriotism is a Matter of the Heart
Just as I’m not supposed to judge how patriotic you are, you should also not judge my patriotism (especially basing it on a lapel pin). I’m sorry, Senator Obama, but this reasoning that you provide seems like an excuse. This may be your real motive, but it seems much more plausible that you don’t want to be linked with the President’s policies. Perhaps you should define just who the people are that you think are unpatriotic and why and then we might know the real reason.
Would He Wear the Pin as President?
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a President without a flag pin, or some kind of patriotic symbolism. I can’t remember– I’m sure someone might come up with a picture, and I’ll gladly correct myself. The point being, we expect our Presidents and elected officials to be patriotic and show forth the country. I fully expect that if Obama would become President, when he took office in 2009 he would be wearing a flag lapel pin– and wouldn’t have a problem doing so.
Outside Reflects Inside
If Obama is truly patriotic, his actions, what he wears, and what he says would be totally in favor of the best for the country– and its current leadership. I have a problem with politicians that think that they have to drag leaders through the mud in order to get elected. Though I have no problems having protests and disagreeing with policies, there needs to be some kind of submission and decorum if the best for America is going to be achieved. Said differently, America cannot be all that it can be if we spend most of our time talking down the leadership.
Update: The Wall Street Journal has an editorial asking, What if Barack Obama told his wife he wouldn’t say “I love you” anymore? That’s a great question.