June 09, 2003
Lapel Flags

For some time now I have been wearing a flag in my lapel (more often, actually, on my shirt pocket). It is the same oversized, canted flag device that George W. Bush and his subordinates all wear. I went on the web and found it.

I wear this flag because I am a patriot, and I do not want to surrender my flag to those, like Bush, who have no idea what it means to be a patriot.

The invaluable historian Howard Zinn reminds us in this monthís Progressive of what actual patriotism entails.

Read it and help take our flag back. Or donít. Thatís what patriotism means, too.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at June 09, 2003 07:08 PM
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Hear, hear.

As I've noted before, the full saying is NOT "My country, right or wrong," but rather, "My country, right or wrong, if right to keep it right, if wrong to set it right."

Posted by: on June 9, 2003 7:16 PM

Zinn says: "Instead of being feared for our military prowess, we should want to be respected for our dedication to human rights."

So what are "human rights" if not freedom for Iraqis?

Seriously, please define Human Rights for me, because everytime I see some6ne raging about human rights, they are talking about crimes in America. As if.

Tell me, what are the three biggest human rights issues today. And how would you fix them. Don't tell me you don't know or can't say.

Posted by: on June 11, 2003 2:32 PM

Three of the biggest human rights issues facing America today: 1) poor access to health care; 2) global warming; and 3) increasing wealth imbalances.

How to solve them: Regime change.

Posted by: on June 12, 2003 1:14 AM

P.S.: Do you think Iraqis are somehow now "free?" Do you possibly think that the quality of the average Iraqi's life was better from March 2003 to today, than from March 2002 to June 11, 2002?

You will say, "Even if so, it will get better soon!"

Then, do you think that the life of the average rural Afghani is less hard now than under the Taliban?

Look, Zinn questions America not because he hates America, but because he holds it to a higher standard than most others do. Jeanne D'Arc did a nice piece a few days ago on Body and Soul about how she felt her children were brilliant and wonderful, just as she felt her country, the US, was brilliant and wonderful. And she held her kids, and her country, to a higher standard.

I know, I know, so much easier to just subscribe to the misty-eyed Reagan/W view that the U.S. is the best of all possible nations in the best of all possible worlds.

Zinn's America, D'Arc's America, and my America is a pain in the ass to live in! Always more expected of you. No chance to relax on your laurels.

Well, there is no Olympic champion who didn't strive to get there, and that striving took years and years, and was relentless. I'm sorry if you are tired of hearing us ask for improvement, or, more likely, just bored of it.

But, dear friend, real patriotism does not mean pat yourself on the back, and tell each other what a great country we are, it means, look to America's ideals, and head there, even when, especially when, the road to the summit is steep.

And, internationally, this means lead by example, and use force only as a last resort. It means America first, but first among equals. It means have the confidence that if we do the right thing and show restraint, ultimately the prize we win will be greater and more profound than anything we can get by picking a preemptive.

Realistically, we iced -- ICED -- the Soviet Union by containment. You're telling me we couldn't do the same to a second-rate raghead like Saddam? Of course we could, even if it meant waiting until he died. Containment was hard, and generations passed before a profound victory was won, and glory conferred. And, more important, profound and pro-U.S. changes occurred in Russia. The victory in Iraq was easy, and glory taken by the impatient and immature W; but, the victory will prove evanescent, because W has sparked anti-U.S. feelings, not pro-U.S. feelings such as ultimately sparked by Truman, Ike, Kennedy, Nixon, and Carter in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Again, I'm sorry truly patriotic progress is not easy. It's frustrating, hard, and slow. But please at least get out of the way of those fighting for it.

Posted by: on June 12, 2003 1:36 AM

Fair enough.

I get thrown by the term "human rights" because in my narrow way, I view human rights as an issue primarily concerned with (A) people living in dictatorships (ie Iraq ante and say, Cuba or Burma)...or (B) people living in catastrophic conditions which may or may not be the result of dictators (ie Congo, Columbia). (B) might even fall into a subcategory like "catastrophe with no cause".

I am not particularly concerned with the three issues you listed but that is a matter of opinion, but I don't see them as "human rights" issues, they seem to be political issues for countries with the luxury of a stable system in which to discuss such issues.

What was the "justification" for bombing Serbia? Was that Human Rights or some other geostrategic reason? Certainly the "rights' of the murdered were violated.

Assuming we all agree that life in Iraq was hell for living and death for the hundreds of thousands who were tortured and murdered, is that not a "human rights" violation?

And if not, doesn't it seem a little puny to list access to health care ahead of mass political murder?

Posted by: Jack M on June 12, 2003 5:43 PM
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