I put out the flag on Sept. 11 in honor of the victims, who died in our stead, as our proxies, fellow Americans killed by those mad to kill any generic American.As I stood there, hand on my heart, saying the pledge, I snuck a guilty glance up the street, uneasy about how this brief patriotic ritual might be viewed by the neighbors.
Conformity, the suburbanite’s sin. So what if people aren’t rushing to fly their flags? Their loss. It’s a shame that patriotism is usually left to patriots, who give it such a bad name by their mistaken belief that loving the country means blindly supporting any folly its leaders can conceive and heaping scorn on any fellow citizen who misses some conformist benchmark of behavior.
Patriotism isn’t cool, but it should be. Forget suburbanites; you’d think the cutting edge would embrace it. You’d think the artists and the radicals, the malcontents and the visionaries, college students and tree-worshiping cultists would be the most patriotic of all, understanding that it is this great country that accepts their deviation, while in many other places they would be stoned to death or, more likely, never even exposed in the first place to the ideas that so overwhelm them.
But no. College professors, free-thinkers, vegans, Marxists all sneer at their country. They are young, or so dazzled by the sheen of their beliefs they fail to appreciate the soil they sprouted in, and they let flag-waving, misty-eyed patriotism be dominated — present company excluded — by exactly the sort of narrow, hidebound reactionaries who’d thrive under any dictatorship.
We are a nation born of radicalism, living under a constitution penned by rebels. Those who fancy themselves rebels today should appreciate that.
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