I’m thankful that “The United States of America is not the same thing as the administration of George W. Bush. The good news for the forces of good is that only 24 percent of the people approve of the job he’s doing….. George Bush has to leave in January 2009 no matter what,” as John Carroll writes. Yes, I’m thankful for the fact that America is not synonymous with GWB, but I’m also deeply troubled by the damage he has done to America.
I haven’t flown my American flag since sometime in October, 2001. This is not because I don’t love America – I do. It’s not because I’m not patriotic – I am. But the flag quickly began to represent nationalism at its worst and a way of thinking that I don’t subscribe to, and I’ll be thrilled when once again, I can hang my flag and have it mean to me, to others, and to the world, what I think it should mean.
What does the flag represent? I’ve been thinking about my poor neglected flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, and why I feel reluctant about them, and here are my thoughts:
I personally pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and the people who defend it
(not to its flag, which has been appropriated by Hawks)
And to the republic for which it stands.
(Republics are governed by the rule of law, something this administration has no respect for)
One nation, under God
(God, here meaning Name your Own, or Buddha, Yahweh, Shiva, Allah, Jehovah, The Force, the infinite ineffable One, or no God at all)
(or, divisible into Red & Blue, Have & Have-nots, Rich & Poor, Educated & Non-Educated, those with health care and those without, the franchised and disenfranchised, the individual and The Corporation, etc.)
With liberty and justice for all,
(not just those who are rich and/or well connected and/or are white males)
The flag is supposed to represent the Republic of the United States of America. It stands for our values, which are (or have been) Freedom, Liberty, Justice, Equality, Diversity, Rule of Law, Democratic processes, Fairness and Humanity. Lately, this is not how we have been viewed in the world. Europeans see us as the number one threat to peace, and that is tragic. America no longer means the same thing to the world that we did after WWII. We are have strayed dangerously far from being the America that is represented by the Constitution when we override something as fundamental to our government as the writ of habeas corpus. We have sacrificed our most treasured values to fear. Bill Maher said, “So when it comes to sacrifice, don’t kid yourself-you *have* given up a lot! You’ve given up faith in your government’s honesty, the good will of people overseas, and six tenths of the Bill of Rights. Here’s what you’ve sacrificed: search and seizure, warrants, self incrimination, trial by jury, cruel and unusual punishment. Here’s what you have left: handguns, religion, and they can’t make you quarter a British soldier.”
Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address outlined the values that America should live by…. the ones we should uphold.
Harmony and affection in social discourse. ~ Well, readers of news and blogs – is there much harmony and affection in our social discourse? Yeah, I know.
A wise and frugal Government. ~ There hasn’t been much evidence of *that* in the last 6 years. Priorities and the cost of the war… hmmmm. According to the National Priorities Project, the money spent on the war so far could have provided America: 1.8 million new teachers. Over 20 million college scholarships. Health insurance for over 60 million children. Or nearly 4 million new housing units.
Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none. ~ What a lovely foreign policy idea! Too bad we have this….
Absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority. ~ Well, the President doesn’t seem to be listening to the majority….
And listen to his humility: “I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional.” ~ Not saying “I’m the Decider” now is he?
We need a leader “who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people – their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties – someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad.” – John F. Kennedy, September 14, 1960
On November 22, 1963, the day he was assassinated in Dallas, John F. Kennedy was scheduled to give a speech in which he would have said:
“We in this country, in this generation, are – by destiny rather than choice – the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, goodwill toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength.”
When America is once again worthy of our power, when we act as watchmen to freedom, when we are viewed by the world as being wise, peaceful and fair, when habeas corpus is restored and civil liberties defended, when integrity and not hypocrisy can be seen in our leader, I will gladly fly my flag. I will once again celebrate the 4th of July. And I will once again be proud to say, “I’m an American.”