Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Patriotism and the American flag

By Michael Agnello

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Daily Collegian File Photo)

(Daily Collegian File Photo)

A national flag is a symbol of a country’s history. In the United States, the 13 red and white stripes represent the former colonies that revolted from Britain and the stars represent our country’s 50 states. In essence, our flag helps to reaffirm the values of our country: liberty, and justice for all.

But during the two weeks of the presidential conventions, the flag was used as a source of separation, rather than its original call to unity. On the first night of the Democratic National Convention, a sole American flag was positioned slightly off stage, prompting a tweet from Republican nominee Donald Trump on July 27 that read, “Not one American flag on the massive stage at the Democratic National Convention until people started complaining – then a small one. Pathetic.”

This was quickly proven ill-informed, but Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich found new reasons to complain, writing on July 28, “The woman who wants to be the next president of the United States is not wearing an American flag lapel pin tonight.” Both comments were meant to suggest that the Democratic party is anti-American, and in turn make the GOP seem more concerned for the status of the country.

While that seems like a classic ploy to win votes in a campaign season that has featured highly divisive rhetoric, these claims cut deeper. They blur the lines of how patriotism should be demonstrated, and subsequently threaten the continued success of our nation by furthering gridlock in Washington and separation among citizens.

What kind of a message is being sent to the population from such analysis? That you have to visibly display your loyalty to America or else be chastised?

Additionally, the mere attempt to convince the American people that one party is more patriotic than another because of a visible display on one night grossly undermines all the patriotic acts that members of the criticized party have done. Are Secretary of State John Kerry and Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, both veterans, not patriotic because their party’s convention stage didn’t have a hundred American flags displayed? Of course not.

Patriotism involves faithfulness, but it is expressed by action. People who enlist in the armed services because they believe in protecting their country’s interests, who vote because they understand the importance of the democratic process or who stand up for the inherent rights of individuals demonstrate more patriotism than someone who is dressed in red, white and blue on the Fourth of July. That might be obvious. But we can’t allow ourselves to forget that the flag only exists because people before us took action to demonstrate their beliefs.

If we want to truly display the flag, we should follow their footsteps and seek the best for our community and nation, sincerely acting on behalf of others and selflessly striving for a positive future. The substance of one’s character is how a patriot should be defined, not how many flags they fly or pin to their lapel.

Michael Agnello is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]


4 Responses to “Patriotism and the American flag”

  1. David Hunt 1990 on September 8th, 2016 4:24 pm

    No, Kerry is unpatriotic because he’s consistently taken the side of America’s enemies since Vietnam… and is therefore IMHO a traitor.

  2. George S. Patton on September 9th, 2016 11:56 am

    As always, David Hunt 1990 is correct. The author conflates liberal social ideals with patriotism, which is defined as ” a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” Today’s millenials are, for the most part, the exact opposite of patriots. In the incredibly misguided name of “social justice” based on all sorts of false and straw-man arguments, the favorite past-time of these last 10-15 years or so seems to be the self-flagellation of white America. It’s all very simple now: white man = bad, everyone else = good. How many young people today are ready to really defend this country against our enemies? How many at UMASS? 5 of you? More people are prepared to spit on the flag and mercilessly deride the great society that we are (were). Evolution of a civil society demands that we confront our flaws and correct past injustices, for sure. But all that is happening now is that one power structure will eventually be replaced by a much worse power structure. Pretty much like every other shitty country on earth.

    Like it or not, flaws and all, this country was made great by people with ideals, imagination, innovation, tolerance and plenty of hard work. These ideals arose primarily out of European enlightenment, and a handful of nations in Western Europe and North America still espouse these ideas. The greatness of what has been created is why millions upon millions want to come here….but all that integration with failed, war-like and outright criminal culture will eventually degrade our culture to the point of no return. Actually, we are probably there already.

    Don’t worry millenials. Soon you will have your way. America and Europe will be as pretty as the United Colors of Benneton. Just remember the old adage: Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

  3. David Hunt 1990 on September 12th, 2016 10:29 am

    @George S. Patton:

    I am flattered by your comments.

    The Left in this country is busily erasing American history, and any sense of what makes America a unique and exceptional entity in this world and across history.

    What I find laughable is all these people who cry “Rape culture! Rape culture!” and then turn around and push for the immigration of thousands… millions… of people who have turned, for example, Sweden into the rape capital of Europe (if not the world). They protest “Rape culture!” and then bring in people belonging to a REAL rape culture. A culture where women are good only for baby-making. Where gays are thrown off buildings. Where anyone not of that culture is a second class resident, alive only on the sufferance of the powers.

    And look up the “Treaty of Umar” for an understanding of what your life will be like under Islamist rule. And Jews, in particular note that Jews are to wear yellow badges on their clothing. Sound familiar?

    Quote: “So, from the year 637 when Christians and Jews were forced to wear yellow belts, to 2001 when the Taliban required Hindus in Afghanistan to wear yellow badges, passing through the decree of Bagdad (1121) where Jews had to wear yellow stars, Muslims have had a very long history of forcing their conquered subjects to differentiate themselves through their clothing.”

    And to cap it off, here is a ~45 presentation “Why we are afraid: a 1400 year old secret”

  4. Brock Townsend on September 12th, 2016 2:16 pm

    Kerry And His Mystical Khmer Dau (Rouge)

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

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