Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Wrapped in the flag

Reader Neil Klopfenstein writes:
I've been reading through your very interesting essay on Fascism. When I came to the part where you quote the Paxton essay on fascists being "decked out in the patriotic emblems of their own countries," I was chillingly reminded of a post I read on that hinted at a lot of the signs of impending fascism about which you write.

The public display of patriotism test


"Those who feel "threatened" or "oppressed" by "simple minded and vulgar" displays of real American patriotism are America haters. People who feel that way are against the very concept of America and American liberty. Most activist Democrats are in this group and they have a positively "vampire-to-garlic reaction" concerning PDP's [public displays of patriotism]."

Although this is rather striking in its attempt to co-opt popular national symbols as specifically anti-liberal, and in its implicit connotation of violence (vampire analogy), the comments below the post provide a clearer window into the minds of nascent fascists:

"One of the reasons why I display the flag is becuase I live in a very liberal area. My choice to engage in PDP's makes me feel morally superior to my neighbors who don't engage in them. I also take a sort of sadistic pleasure in displaying my flag, knowing that so many of my neighbors will be offended by it." -- 'Joe Schmoe'

Obviously, it is not love of country that motivates this man.

I don't know about anyone else, but it isn't spontaneous displays of patriotism that bother me. I'm bothered by behavior that treats war like a sport, patriotism like a pep rally, and reasonable skepticism like treason.

That isn't patriotism. It's jingoism.

And another thing: I was raised as a Boy Scout, and I had drilled into me all the rules required for respectful treatment of the flag. And I have never believed that attaching a flag to my car, except perhaps in a parade, comes close to meeting those standards.

Half of the time, when I see one of those tattered rags hanging from someone's antenna or off the back of their pickup, I want to take it down and give it a proper burial.

But then, I'd probably be accused of being unpatriotic.

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