Liberals Shouldn't Let Conservatives Own Patriotism (And The Confederate Flag Has NO Business Flying Beside Our Flag)
I've spent 11 of the last 36 months traveling. From Austria to Cambodia to Honduras, I've blogged about how travel can teach you how to be happy; how travel is like being in kindergarten, college, and adulthood, all at once; and how there's no limit to how much you can learn (and teach) while abroad. I've seen wild orangutans, herds of elephants, five different hornbill species, 900-year-old temples, blue flame volcanoes (seriously!), and so much more.
Despite all this, when people ask me to pick my favorite country, the answer is easy:
America is the best country.
You're totally welcome to disagree with me. It wouldn't upset or offend me if you picked Finland or Vietnam or Chile.
And it really shouldn't offend you if I say America is my favorite country.
Yet I expect in certain circles, there's something somehow offensive about having love and pride in a nation that, though imperfect, is incredibly awesome and progressive on so many issues.
As Americans, we have a lot to be proud of -- beyond being "back to back World War Champs." (That's what the shirt I'm wearing in the title/header image says. Weirdly, I found that shirt at a market in Myanmar, but you can get your very own version on Amazon. Amazingly, it also comes in hat, and I just ordered mine.)
The United States – again, though. imperfect – was formed upon our "inalienable rights" of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," as outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
In other words, if you are the kind of person who displays bumper stickers and yard signs that say things like, "Black Lives Matter," "Love is Love," "Women's Rights are Human Rights," and "Hate Has No Home Here," then you are EXACTLY the kind of person who should be flying the American flag –these are liberal, American values!
On the other hand, you know who has no business flying our flag?
First of all, white supremacists, neo-nazis, alt-righters, and other hateful halfwits who fly the confederate or Nazi flag alongside the American flag.
Y'all – WE WENT TO WAR WITH THOSE ENTITIES. IN WHAT WAY DOES FLYING THEIR FLAG MAKE YOU PATRIOTIC?
Rallying under those flags... is almost kinda like treason to the USA.
(Credit: Robert F Sargent/Getty Images)
Second, even if you're not some overtly racist neo-nazi, if you're a trump supporter, you likely have no business flying our flag, either.
If you were simply Republican, I'd of course encourage you to fly your American flag. But if you're a trump-supporting Republican... I mean, how can you claim to be patriotic and love America when you're supporting someone whose actions and words undermine the very values this country is built upon?
You should be horrified by this man.
After all, as Jonathan Raunch and Benjamin Wittes, who both spent their professional careers "strenuously avoiding partisanship in their writing and thinking" until 2018, wrote in their March 2018 Atlantic article, Boycott the Republican Party:
In discussing this with my friend Ron Smith, who basically earned a PhD in history from home during his retirement, Ron made another interesting point:
In other words, if you support trump, maybe you should take down your American flag and just fly a trump flag, instead.
But if you love liberal values like free speech, free press, free elections, peaceful transfer of power, equality, free religion, etc. etc. etc... then you are exactly the kind of person who should feel pride in this country and what it stands for.
If you love this country's entrepreneurial, inclusive spirit – if you love the progress we've made in terms of gender and racial equality (even though there's still work to be done) – then you are exactly the kind of person who should celebrate the American flag.
So why don't we? Because to many people, especially young ones, "patriotism" means something different than it did just a few decades ago. Ron Smith, reflecting on how the meaning of Patriot has changed in his lifetime, even calls for a redefinition of patriotism.
Liberals, don't let yourself get swept up in the hysteria. No, the American flag is not a conservative symbol – in fact, may of today's "conservative" (as in, trump-supporting) values are deeply un-American.
No, the US is not "as dangerous for women" as Yemen and Afghanistan and Syria – if you really believed that, you need a serious lesson in critical thought. We are not perfect – but who doesn't still tear up every time they see or think about this:
Yes, many of our Founding Fathers, presidents, and other leaders have complicated legacies by modern standards – but if you really think we ought to be tearing down statues of Lincoln because freeing the slaves "wasn't enough"... I really don't know what to say to you. No one is perfect, we have a lot to be proud of, and, by future moral standards, even the best of us will one day be monsters.
I even wrote a song about this.
We have so many amazing, liberal rights and freedoms in this country – when conservatives attempt to erode these freedoms, it's important not to let them co-opt our flag as a symbol of their backwards and un-American values.
If you're a liberal, the American flag stands for when you stand for. It's time to own it.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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