Why did I have a flag in my window before September 11th? Not because I’m a member of the John Birch Society or the Moral Majority or the Know-Nothings or whatever the current instantiation of the Party of Stupidity happens to be. It’s there because it’s my flag, just like it’s my government and my country, and I refuse to cede it to a passel of dingbats, wingnuts, blockheads, grifters, demagogues, and career liars.
I have no patience with members of my cohort who think that because we have an imperfect government and an imperfect country, they’re excused from participating in it (except of course for commentary and protest). They’re wrong. That position is plain moral vanity, an unholy hybrid of personal salvation and finicky retail consumerism. It has no place in our necessarily common enterprise of democracy. Politics belongs in the real world. I’m equally out of patience with street shouters who tell me that if I’m not part of their solution, I’m part of the general problem.
All the usual idiocies have been on display in the weeks following the Big Awful. I’ve been just too bleeping enchanted for words by commentators who take my personal flagwaving as mindless jingoism, or as a sure sign that I support George W. Bush. (Excuse me; I have to go wash my hands after typing that last sentence.) But there may be hope. The Los Angeles Times has awkwardly and tentatively taken notice of what they’re calling a new, nuanced patriotism.
Well, hallelujah. They got it half right. The half wrong part is that they think it’s a brand-new phenomenon, as though all these people they describe as having a complex, sophisticated take on patriotism only arrived at our opinions over the last fortnight. What actually happened is that that’s when the LA Times noticed our existence. Which is just about par for the course for the national media: they take counsel of their own thickheadedness, and conclude from it that I was born yesterday.