Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm not conflicted, I think all of it is stupid

Wherein when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at school, I'm trying to get my daughter to say "One Nation under Canada." No luck yet, but I'll keep trying.

I hadn't heard of these attacks. But they improve my opinion of Obama. Ron Rosenbaum, in Slate, In Defense of Obama's Patriotism:
You've probably read about the viral—and misleading—e-mail accusing Barack Obama of refusing to put his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. (The video, in fact, shows him listening to the national anthem with his hands clasped in front of him, although some consider that a sacrilege, too.)

The widely circulated e-mail seems designed to play upon Obama's previous public decision to stop wearing a flag lapel pin. To suggest there's a pattern there. If so, I would say all these pledge-and-pin, hand-and-heart, loyalty-ritual fetishists are misguided about American history, especially the importance to that history of the challenge to loyalty pledges. If it's a pattern in Obama's behavior, I think it's a courageous challenge to conventional wisdom on firm constitutional grounds (however politically self-destructive it may prove in the short run). When was the last time you saw a politician make that trade-off?

Does anyone else feel the way I do? Glad to be an American, privileged and grateful for its freedoms, but conflicted about pins, pledges, flag worshipping, and other rituals of compulsory or socially enforced patriotism, like the hand over the heart during the national anthem?

I certainly feel allegiance, though less to the inanimate flag than to "the republic for which it stands," but, paradoxically, the moment when I feel most rebellious about that allegiance is when I'm being forced by state or social coercion to pledge allegiance. The America I feel allegiance to isn't the America that requires compulsory displays of loyalty. t


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