Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Sunday, June 26, 2005  

A more passionate response

Roger Kimball at Armavirumque
doesn't like a flag amendment anymore than Mark Steyn:

I dislike the spectacle of people burning the American flag as much as the next fascist, right-wing, pro-capitalist extremist (I summarize some of my recent fan mail). But Steyn is surely right that criminalizing the activity is cosmetic plaster, as ineffectual as it is incompatible with the principles of a free society. Are we so weak that such dissent is threatening as well as unattractive? If so, we are in worse shape than I had thought.

Sometimes these folks bring out my inner demogogue. That is, sometimes my identification with the basic feelings of my countrymen overwhelm me with righteous indignation at all the pointy headed intellectuals of every stripe who must always try to assume some sort of Olympian superiority.

Damnit! Sometimes one wants a raw power to knock these fellows out of their perches and down to earth that they join their countrymen and say -- whatever y'all want, we're in this together, and I've got your back.

Mr. Kimball,

As passionate and well considered your objection to the flag burning amendment (which has nothing to do with the rest of the world, which Steyn gets wrong), I fear you miss a very large and great point -- what would Americans like to have done? Is it wrong for a great nation to set aside a symbol, enshrine a fierce sentiment, and protect itself from the indignity of harboring and abetting dire enemies in its bosom who's impunity has no bounds or current remedy?

It did so at one time and no harm came to the Republic. Re-instituting it now is some sort of distracting non-issue? That is patent nonsense. If the Amendment passes we move on to other issues more or less important. The merry world goes on apace and nothing is hurt by the Amendment.

Is it ineffectual? Is such flag desecrating dissent unthreatening? The question is, where do you make any sort of stand, draw any line in the sand? The passage of this amendment would give people hope. Hope that they can start to turn back the tide as you well describe the antinomianism of liberalism.

Would you prefer a Constitutional Congress? Because that is clearly where we will be headed if we can't restore some order in the courts, and in our institutions. If we can't start teaching history in a way that supports and builds rather than tears down, if we can't fight our wars with some degree of assurance that we won't be undermined in the midst of great struggle, if we want to remain a free people -- we have to do something, start somewhere, and if the idea that starting or building from the Flag seems so futile or feeble to you, exactly what symbol, what revered object or idea do you suggest instead?

In fact, you have no idea. The People are too simple for you. They seize on a simple thing like the flag the way a Catholic seizes on the Eucharist, a Jew upon the Torah, and what do you do? You scorn them when they have a concrete object upon which to generate a patriotic and righteous energy.

Do you know what it's like to be in a foriegn country and see an American Base or embassy and see that flag waving? Don't tell me it's wrong to venerate that sentiment for that piece of cloth which arises from pure love of country, the blood that was spilled, the freedom we enjoy, the safety it promises.

You're a guy who's supposed to know something about art, poetry, and religion, yet you want to approach this innocent, child-like impulse and desire with scorn and sophistication of your own which cavils at such an investment of time and effort.

What you may need to do is some un-growing up. You are playing an adult with far too much distance and diffidence from human reality -- the soar of the heart which fixes on simple but very great things, things which define Being in this mad and insufficient world.

You are Proud, sir, and form your own elite against the Real and the immense human desire to have a bond that means as much if not more than wife, husband, children but something great above and beyond us.

Most people don't have a powerful grasp of God's presence and love, but they feel something akin to it when Americans look upon their flag waving in the breeze and signaling that life has hope and meaning so long as that banner waves.

Sir, do not just un-grow up, but wake up and experience the deep joy that being an American can bring to one's being in simply loving to see that flag. And you, sir, do not want people to cherish that flag, protect that flag, and condemn those among us who would spoil that flag and all it means.

You want people to be sophisticated like you, abstract like you, and focused on all the political and philosophical follies of the day when they have better things to do like loving their lives and the land they live in.

Sometimes you smart guys outsmart yourselves right out of all human cpmpassion and understanding to feed upon the dry, burnt fields of complaint.


I am not alone in my sentiments. Power Line's reader Paul Malingowski writes:

Why can't we have one symbol, one sacred symbol which represents all that have been done by past patriots and is being done now, by current patriots?

I can still recall a moment back in 1966 where I was lying in mud, dirty, tired, wishing I could be home, anywhere but here in the worst way and I saw my flag. I cannot describe for you adequately how my heart swelled. I knew what that flag represented, my family, my country, everything that I wished to be good, all that I knew was good in my country. I would die. It was not a questionable thing. I loved, love, that flag, I understood.

The first time I saw it being burned on TV by a bunch of laughing, mocking, filthy group, I was so shocked and sad. We had many laws back then protecting our flag but judges felt they were unconstitutional. People who want an admendment are only trying to restore what judges have removed. All the good that good men and women have done for this country, the untold amount of blood shed is sybolized in that flag.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:16 PM |