Conservatives act as if only they are patriotic. Progressives can’t allow that impression. (More)
“How amazing that they use their resources like that”
Patriotism isn’t a conservatives-only thing. It’s not even a humans-only thing:
When a Texas veteran discovered several small American flags in his garden had been stolen, he was initially heartbroken.
However the former Air Force serviceman’s sadness turned to smiles when he discovered who the culprits were: squirrels.
Jennifer [Northam] and her father were immensely relieved when they realized that the thieves were squirrels.
She said: “We finally understood that it wasn’t someone. It was something. I mean, how amazing that they use their resources like that.
“They find something new, figured it would work and used it.”
I wasn’t surprised to learn that squirrels are patriotic. Despite The Great Purge of 1985, one of the world’s best squirrel hotels is still Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House. Indeed we’re among the most popular tourist attractions in the nation’s capital. Heck, we probably invented patriotism, like we invented agriculture and game theory and lots of other clever ideas.
“In the way that most Americans are patriotic”
All of these people in middle America, even the actual liberals, have very different sensibilities than elite liberals who live on the coasts.
[T]hey’re patriotic in the way that most Americans are patriotic. They don’t feel self-conscious saluting the flag. They don’t like it when people bad-mouth our country. They believe that America is mostly good, and that the rest of the world should look more like America.
Unless the person bad-mouthing our country is a Republican who promises to “Make America Great Again.” Then the talk of decay and rot and swamps is just fine, I guess. Or maybe it’s just that conservatives love to bad-mouth our country when the topic is … women, people of color, Muslims, atheists, LGBTs, and anyone else they think isn’t a “real American.”
“The longer right-wing project to label anyone in the opposition as somehow deracinated, unnatural, unconnected to ‘the homeland.’”
It’s not just Republican talking heads. All fall, Michael Moore had been sounding a similar alarm, suggesting that anyone who lived in an Eastern city or had never worked an assembly line could not possibly understand the plight of his old Michigan neighbors. The environmental journalist Rob Hoffman, in a Politico piece headlined “How the Left Created Trump,” blamed the election of Trump entirely on “liberal America’s smug style of debate” and “unmitigated social activism.” He berated “liberal America’s unwillingness – still! – to bend to its Republican counterparts,” even as he conceded that Trump’s victory “could have irreversible environmental consequences.” One might consider this the environmentalist’s equivalent of asking, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” But for Hoffman the bigger problem is, somehow, “liberal America’s unwillingness to compromise, or even show magnanimity in the face of all its victories on social issues.”
J.D. Vance, author of the bestselling Hillbilly Elegy – about whom so much commentary has now been written that a foreigner would be forgiven for thinking that at least two-thirds of all Americans are hillbillies, and that the rest of us do nothing with our waking hours but, well, condescend to them – informed us in a New York Times op-ed that liberals might revere the military, but it’s Trump voters who actually join it.
That’s simply bullshit:
Outsiders tend to think the U.S. military is made up entirely of blood-and-guts conservatives, à la John Wayne, but there’s little real evidence to back that up. When the Iraq war was launched, the consensus among U.S. military officers interviewed at the time was that 1 in 3 officers opposed it, suggesting they all weren’t gung ho.
“The officers by and large are more conservative,” says an Army sergeant just back from Afghanistan. “But the enlisted tend to be more liberal.” Of course, with fewer than 1 in 5 of those in uniform an officer, there’s a lot more enlisted voters.
Yes, Democrats make them up as well. Witness “basket of deplorables,” or “clinging to their guns and Bibles.” But we were the ones whose candidate ran on the slogan, “Stronger Together.” It wasn’t us who went to rallies in shirts that read, “Trump That Bitch,” or shouted, “Lock her up!” We were the ones who wanted to talk about how we could all move forward, not who we could demonize or deport. Our candidate was the one with the laundry list of practical, immediate ideas about how to help Americans knocked flat by the global economy, instead of some vague palaver about how one man alone could fix the modern world. So who, exactly, is living in the bubble?
There is something more pernicious going on here, part of the longer right-wing project to label anyone in the opposition as somehow deracinated, unnatural, unconnected to “the homeland.” In this country, it dates back at least to the widespread gay-baiting that went hand-in-hand with McCarthyism, when Sen. Everett Dirksen promised to purge “the lavender lads” of the State Department. You can trace its lineage through Barry Goldwater wishing “we could just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea,” George Wallace’s denunciation of “pointy-headed intellectuals,” and Newt Gingrich’s infamous list of “contrasting words” to use against Democratic candidates, which included “bizarre,” “decay,” “traitors,” and “sick.”
It’s been 73 years since British, Americans, and Canadians landed on the beaches of Normandy. No, I didn’t list Britain first to bad-mouth America. It’s simply that – contrary to American myth – most of the D-Day force was British. It’s not “unpatriotic” to admit that, unless your idea of “patriotism” includes claiming credit for other people’s efforts and sacrifices.
“We need to continue to find ways to reject and end both explicit and implicit bias in all its forms”
So why does the myth of patriotism as a conservative-only trait persist? Perhaps because, for decades, groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars practiced open discrimination … against women and people of color and even Jewish-Americans. A Southern Poverty Law Center review found that a 2008 American Legion Report on immigration was littered with lies and a 2009 Veterans Today column warned of rampant racism in veterans’ groups. And just last year, an American Legion Post in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts agreed to pay $15,000 and implement new policies in a settlement to a racial discrimination case.
The veterans organization must require staff to attend training on state and federal public accommodation laws, which make it illegal for businesses or organizations to discriminate against patrons based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and other factors.
Prosecutors alleged the post violated the state’s Public Accommodations Law and the Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive conduct in commerce.
“No one in Massachusetts should be discriminated against based on their race and we need to continue to find ways to reject and end both explicit and implicit bias in all its forms,” Healey said in a statement.
Now ask yourself who you usually see quoted in stories about patriotism, military memorials, and the like. Yep, it’s usually some retired officer (who are typically far more conservative than enlisted servicemen and -women) or some official from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, or similar group.
Service and patriotism are not conservative-only values. We need to stop letting wingnuts pretend otherwise … and liberal pundits like Tomasky need to stop pretending as well.
Photo Credit: Scholastic.com
Good day and good nuts