Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Patriot Day

Picture: The first blow for liberty. Print by A.H. Ritchie. 200(S)-JH-3.

I'm declaring today Patriot Day, in honor of the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, the Last Straw that triggered the Revolutionary War and gave birth to a constitutional republic.

For the last few years, I've been spouting my oh-so-clever idea that "Flying a flag doesn't make you a patriot, any more than wearing a stethoscope makes you a doctor." (Likewise, putting an "I support the troops" magnet on your car. If anything, you support the guy in China who makes the magnet.) This brilliant insight came to me at the height of the flag-burning hysteria, also known as "Look! Something shiny!," a shamefully successful strategy by the neocons to take your eyes off bouncing ball: the economy, the war, graft and corruption, etc.

If the election of Obama represents a passion for change, is it too much to hope that a new definition of patriotism might emerge? One that moves past clich├ęs and sound bites, and honors the courage, sacrifice and ideals of our founding fathers and mothers?

So, what do I think constitutes a patriot? Here's a short list:
  • Write a letter to the editor about an issue you think is important
  • Call or write your Senator or Congressperson about said issue
  • Vote in every election, especially local elections.
  • Volunteer for a political campaign
  • Volunteer to work at the polls on election day
  • Run for a public office
  • Discuss issues with your friends. Not politician's personalities or hairstyles.
  • Send cards and/or a care package to the troops
  • Boycott WalMart and try to buy products Made in the USA
  • Volunteer at a VA hospital
  • Your Suggestion Here: _____________________________
Happy Patriot Day! Fly your flag and commit an act of patriotism.


Margaret said...

I like the magnet/sticker that reads "Support the troops. Bring them home."

As someone who has opposed the invasions of Iraq, has been to anti-war rallies, marches and vigils, has been called "unpatriotic" and exhorted to "go back to Russia" (???) and has written letters, etc., I raise my glass to a new definition of U.S. patriotism!


U.S. citizen living in...
Florence, Italy

La Cootina said...

Yes, that may be the MOST heinous legacy of those neocon pigs: calling anyone who disagrees with them "unpatriotic." Ironically, that is more unpatriotic than anything I might say.

And thank you for making me do a bit of homework. I just learned that my favorite quote on this subject has actually been incorrectly attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Turns out, it was historian Howard Zinn who said "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."