Monday, February 25, 2008

flag fashion

I've been listening to conservative talk radio lately and two criticisms of Barack Obama that come up repeatedly there made it to the editorial page of the New York Times today. One is Obama's decision not to wear a flag lapel pin, supposedly a signal of his lack of patriotism. Here's how Obama responded to a reporter's question.
"You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as were 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."
Despite the convoluted sentence his meaning is clear and shouldn't be controversial. Wearing a flag-shaped pin is an empty symbol, easily done by anyone regardless of their true feelings. Patriotism isn't proved by empty gestures. Love of the country is meaningful not when it's proclaimed but when it's shown in actions that flow from our core principles, for instance speaking out against our government when it betrays our values by engaging us in an unnecessary and ill-prepared war.

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