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Jewish World Review Oct. 17, 2001 / 30 Tishrei 5762

Don Feder

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Patriotism on the rise, liberals cringe -- LIBERALS are confronting a new horror -- not the threat of more hijackings or the looming menace of biological warfare, but a resurgence of patriotism.

In one of its tendentious life-style features, The Boston Globe recently agonized over all of the flag-waving since Sept. 11. "For some people (i.e., our editors), the sudden glut of American flags is reminiscent of the hoopla that precedes Homecoming Week at college," the Globe sneered.

The paper cautioned readers on how easily patriotism can evolve into militarism, chauvinism and storm troopers. "But the flag is only a symbol, and as the comic and political commentator Barry Crimmins says, there were a lot of flags in Nazi Germany, but no freedom."

An article in the Los Angeles Times quotes a first-grade teacher in Madison, Wis., on why she refuses to lead her class in the pledge of allegiance. "Mandating patriotism is a really scary thing. It leads to nationalism and ultimately, to fascism," says Suzy Grindrod.

But educators like Grindrod have no problem mandating multiculturalism or indoctrinating students in the lies about America's past contained in the National History Standards.

Why is it when liberals discuss the American flag, the conversation so often turns to the Third Reich? Recall that these are the twits who, in their student days, spelled America with a "k."

A symbol is only a symbol? How insightful! It's true, the flag isn't a system of government. If the flag were sufficient to guarantee our liberty, we wouldn't need the Constitution.

Though they'll swear by all that's holy (for them, safe sex and the rain forest) that they aren't really anti-American, since the Vietnam War, liberals have had an allergic reaction to manifestations of patriotism.

Most of us view Old Glory as representative of a nation founded on freedom, of the sacrifices of our military, of America riding to the rescue of beleaguered folk from Cuba in 1898 to Europe in 1944 and Kuwait in 1991. We're proud of it, as we are proud to be Americans.

When liberals look at the flag, they see only dispossessed Indians, racial segregation, napalm dropped on Vietnamese villages and children making jeans in Third World sweatshops.

Even after an unprovoked attack on their homeland, by creatures so evil Hell would spurn them, and 5,000 of their fellow Americans dead, public-broadcasting donors just can't get over their red, white and blue aversion.

Writing in the Sunday New York Times on Sept. 30, George Packer explained that the flag wasn't displayed in his household because, "Display wasn't just politically suspect, it was simply in bad taste, sentimental, primitive, sometimes aggressive."

In other words, love of country is the province of veterans, country music fans, guys with pickup trucks and rifle racks and other high-testosterone, low-IQ types. Liberal snobbery meets liberal paranoia.

Katha Pollitt, a columnist for the Nation, told her 13-year-old daughter (who asked for a flag for their home) that, "The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war."

But even in its bastions, the left is losing ground. At the University of California at Berkeley, a Sept. 24 "Rally for America" actually outdrew an anti-war demonstration a day earlier.

On college campuses across the country, employment with the Central Intelligence Agency is suddenly a very appealing prospect for seniors. At a University of Maryland job fair, the CIA recruitment table had the longest line.

Normal Americans don't view the flag as a danger to our freedom. They don't think pledging allegiance to the flag Americans fought under in World War II will somehow resurrect fascism.

On Oct. 11, a group of runners started out from Boston's Logan Airport with an American flag which will be carried in relays across the country, to arrive in Los Angeles in time for Veterans Day. Organizers describe the response from motorists along the route as "absolutely overwhelming."

Liberals must feel lonely in the midst of all this unabashed flag-waving. To help them cope, perhaps Turner Classic Movies could run a "M*A*S*H" marathon, hosted by Jane Fonda, or they could be equipped with blinders, so they won't be visually assaulted by dangerous displays of "jingoism, vengeance and war."

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate