American Patriotism in Hyper-Drive

 

by WALTER BRASCH

 

It’s midway between Flag Day and Independence Day.

That means several million copies of full-page flags printed on cheap newsprint, June 14, have been burned, shredded, thrown away, or perhaps recycled. It’s an American tradition.

Flag Day was created by President Wilson in 1916 on the eve of the American entry into World War I. It has since been a day to allow Americans to show how patriotic we have become, and give a running start to celebrating the Revolution by buying banners, fireworks, and charcoal briquettes for the upcoming picnic.

 Within American society is a large class of people who fly flags on 30-foot poles in front of their houses and adorn their cars with flag decals and what they believe are patriotic bumper stickers. They are also quick to let everyone know how patriotic they are, and how much less patriotic the rest of us are. But patriotism is far more than flying flags and shouting about liberty in Tea Party rallies.

Find someone wearing socks, T-shirt, bandana, and even a jacket that looks like replicas of the American flag, and you might find a hyper-patriot. Of course, just a few decades ago, they would have spat out their disgust to anti-war protestors or hippies who had so much of a flag patch on their jeans.

Most of these hyper-patriots wrap themselves in the flag and Constitution, but are quick to try to shut off dissent, believe the only true religion is the one they espouse, demand that the police frisk citizens who aren’t White, and declare the Supreme Court is un-American when it doesn’t rule the way they think it should.

Many of the hyper-patriots waved those flags high whenever the U.S. has gone to war, even if that war was created by lies. In Iraq, almost 4,500 Americans have been killed; more than 32,000 were wounded, many of them with lifetime injuries.

Many of the hyper-patriots are insensitive to the problems of the 700,000 Americans, about 70,000 of them veterans, who are homeless on any given day.

They are oblivious to the 46 million Americans, about 16 million of them children, who live in poverty.

They oppose universal health care that would help all Americans, including the 50 million who are currently uninsured.

Many of these hyper-patriots believe unions are un-American, and workers who demand good work conditions and benefits are whiners.

These hyper-patriots are also the ones who believe Social Security should be privatized, oppose Medicare, and go ballistic when they think government is infringing upon rights of the individual. But they believe government should impose standards of what are or are not proper sexual positions for consenting adults.

 Although the unemployment rate has fallen significantly in the past year, 12.7 million Americans are still trying to find work. The response of hyper-patriots has been to block all attempts by President Obama to pass a jobs creation bill. They readily accept corporate welfare and special tax benefits for the wealthy, but look away when corporations send work and their profits out of the country. The Wall Street Journal reports the 11 top American corporations cut 2.9 million jobs in the U.S. and hired 2.4 million overseas.

Since 2000, more than six million manufacturing jobs have been lost, and 50,000 factories closed. Among jobs now being outsourced are customer complaint specialists, medical records transcribers, phone operators, telemarketers, and even newspaper copyeditors.

More than 500,000 call center jobs have been outsourced. This past week, hyper-patriots in the U.S. House of Representatives, voting largely along party lines, blocked a bill that would have barred American companies that outsourced call center jobs from receiving federal grants and loans and would have given further protection to Americans from identity theft by overseas companies.

These hyper-patriots readily buy products made outside the United States, proudly proclaim the great bargains they just scored, and somehow believe they are still patriots.

But here are two statistics hyper-patriots might wish to reflect upon during the three weeks between Flag Day and Independence Day. About 99 percent of legal fireworks used during July 4th celebrations are made in China. The second statistic is that during the past decade, Americans paid more than $93 million for U.S. flags made overseas, most of them from China. Many of those flags are proudly waved by hyper-patriots.

[Walter Brasch was recently honored by the Pennsylvania Press Club with its lifetime Communicator of Achievement award for journalistic excellence and community service. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed novel, Before the First Snow, a look at the American counterculture, including the media.]

 

 

 

American Patriotism in Hyper-Drive

 

by WALTER BRASCH

 

It’s midway between Flag Day and Independence Day.

That means several million copies of full-page flags printed on cheap newsprint, June 14, have been burned, shredded, thrown away, or perhaps recycled. It’s an American tradition.

Flag Day was created by President Wilson in 1916 on the eve of the American entry into World War I. It has since been a day to allow Americans to show how patriotic we have become, and give a running start to celebrating the Revolution by buying banners, fireworks, and charcoal briquettes for the upcoming picnic.

 Within American society is a large class of people who fly flags on 30-foot poles in front of their houses and adorn their cars with flag decals and what they believe are patriotic bumper stickers. They are also quick to let everyone know how patriotic they are, and how much less patriotic the rest of us are. But patriotism is far more than flying flags and shouting about liberty in Tea Party rallies.

Find someone wearing socks, T-shirt, bandana, and even a jacket that looks like replicas of the American flag, and you might find a hyper-patriot. Of course, just a few decades ago, they would have spat out their disgust to anti-war protestors or hippies who had so much of a flag patch on their jeans.

Most of these hyper-patriots wrap themselves in the flag and Constitution, but are quick to try to shut off dissent, believe the only true religion is the one they espouse, demand that the police frisk citizens who aren’t White, and declare the Supreme Court is un-American when it doesn’t rule the way they think it should.

Many of the hyper-patriots waved those flags high whenever the U.S. has gone to war, even if that war was created by lies. In Iraq, almost 4,500 Americans have been killed; more than 32,000 were wounded, many of them with lifetime injuries.

Many of the hyper-patriots are insensitive to the problems of the 700,000 Americans, about 70,000 of them veterans, who are homeless on any given day.

They are oblivious to the 46 million Americans, about 16 million of them children, who live in poverty.

They oppose universal health care that would help all Americans, including the 50 million who are currently uninsured.

Many of these hyper-patriots believe unions are un-American, and workers who demand good work conditions and benefits are whiners.

These hyper-patriots are also the ones who believe Social Security should be privatized, oppose Medicare, and go ballistic when they think government is infringing upon rights of the individual. But they believe government should impose standards of what are or are not proper sexual positions for consenting adults.

 Although the unemployment rate has fallen significantly in the past year, 12.7 million Americans are still trying to find work. The response of hyper-patriots has been to block all attempts by President Obama to pass a jobs creation bill. They readily accept corporate welfare and special tax benefits for the wealthy, but look away when corporations send work and their profits out of the country. The Wall Street Journal reports the 11 top American corporations cut 2.9 million jobs in the U.S. and hired 2.4 million overseas.

Since 2000, more than six million manufacturing jobs have been lost, and 50,000 factories closed. Among jobs now being outsourced are customer complaint specialists, medical records transcribers, phone operators, telemarketers, and even newspaper copyeditors.

More than 500,000 call center jobs have been outsourced. This past week, hyper-patriots in the U.S. House of Representatives, voting largely along party lines, blocked a bill that would have barred American companies that outsourced call center jobs from receiving federal grants and loans and would have given further protection to Americans from identity theft by overseas companies.

These hyper-patriots readily buy products made outside the United States, proudly proclaim the great bargains they just scored, and somehow believe they are still patriots.

But here are two statistics hyper-patriots might wish to reflect upon during the three weeks between Flag Day and Independence Day. About 99 percent of legal fireworks used during July 4th celebrations are made in China. The second statistic is that during the past decade, Americans paid more than $93 million for U.S. flags made overseas, most of them from China. Many of those flags are proudly waved by hyper-patriots.

[Walter Brasch was recently honored by the Pennsylvania Press Club with its lifetime Communicator of Achievement award for journalistic excellence and community service. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed novel, Before the First Snow, a look at the American counterculture, including the media.]

 

 

 

Fourth of July photo diary - Mississippi

I'm not sure what the rules are for photo blogs. Someone holler at me if I've done something wrong. I'll take the diary down if asked.

I went to the July 4th celebration at the city park in a small town in northern MS today. There were 2,000-3,000 people there by my estimate. A very mixed crowd. Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Orientals,  Philipinos, and probably more races and ethnic groups that I didn't see.

It was a big family event. Lots of kids, teenagers, and adults of all ages. I spoke to one older couple who said they were both in their 90's.

There's more...

The Rocket's Red Glare May Be Chinese

by Walter Brasch

    Wearing a pith helmet and brandishing a blunderbuss, Marshbaum burst into my office and ordered me to the floor. I looked at my faux friend and media foil, about to ask him what his latest scheme was. With Marshbaum, who was fed "Honeymooners" episodes by IV when he was a child, everything is a scheme to make money. But, in the fraction of time I had before he yelled for me to get under my desk and cover my head, I quickly determined he was serious.

    "We're at war!" he shouted, hyper-kinetically upset.

    "Of course we're at war," I said. "Bush diverted resources from Afghanistan to invade Iraq. Been at war five years."

    "Not that war," said Marshbaum. "This is bigger. China invaded our homeland. We're under attack. And thanks to a 5-4 decision by the Supremes, me and Ole Betsy will defend my home from the Commie invaders."

    "You been watching too many recycled Cold War films?" I asked. "China is our trading partner. They loaned us billions to reduce our exorbitant unbalanced budget. Their factories are producing goods for the American consumer almost as fast as Washington politicians have been producing verbal diarrhea."

     "The Chinese have launched rockets at us. We don't have much time."

     "I didn't see anything on the 24/7 news channels about an invasion."

    "Of course not," said Marshbaum, "they're too busy tracking celebrity weddings, break-ups, and drunk driving arrests."

    "Even the worst journalist would pick up on an invasion of the U.S," I said.

    "Yeah," he replied sarcastically, "like they picked up on the PATRIOT Act violating a half-dozen constitutional amendments? Like they figured out the Bush-Cheney Oil and Screw Corp. lied to them about Iraq, the environment, the housing crisis, the economy, and how to make barbecued burritos?"

    "But war with China?" I asked skeptically.

    "China!" he said authoritatively. "Largest Communist country in the world. More than a billion people. Largest Army in the world. While the politicians focused on being nasty to Cuba, which has only 11 million people and hardly any weapons, the Chinese have been getting ready to invade us. It's been a sneak attack that started years ago. Some of the best students in American colleges are Chinese. They're the cadre for the take-over, and it's less than a week away!"

    "I assume you have evidence," I asked, playing along with Marshbaum. After all, I had no idea how deadly a blunderbuss could be, especially if I was in the same room with one.

    "Tents," said Marshbaum. "Thousands of tents have been set up the past two weeks on every major road in America. They're ammunition depots. Come July Fourth, the Chinese students will stop getting perfect scores on their SATs, join their comrades from all the Chinese buffets, go to the tents, activate the weapons and blow us all sky high with Roman Candles and Multi-break Shells. Dahlias, Willows, and Rings. An arsenal of destruction!"

    "They're fireworks!" I told my naive friend. "Fireworks! Jefferson, Madison, and the patriots started the revolution so we could eat hotdogs and potato salad, then shoot off a color spectacular and get a three-day weekend."

    "For a journalist, you're even denser than I thought." And so he walked me through his logic. "Ninety-Eight percent of all fireworks we use for July Fourth are made in China."

    "I see no evidence of war here," I said. "The Chinese also supply most of our toys and just about anything that winds up at the Dollar Store."

    "Do you think the largest army in the world would be content to stay in Asia and eat sushi all day?" I disregarded the anomaly that sushi is a Japanese dish, but when Marshbaum is on a roll it's hard to divert him with logic. "Come July Fourth, they're going to shock and awe us with their fireworks, play a Tchaikovsky overture, and then take over the rest of America."

    "The Olympics are only about five weeks away," I reminded him, "why would the Chinese attack us when it's hosting the leading display for unity and peace?"

    "Because they need more emaciated squeaky-voiced gymnasts," he said, "and we'll be so grateful to get rid of them and those snooty equestrians as well that we'll wave flags to honor China."

    "Americans are going to wave Chinese flags? That's ridiculous!"

    "American flags," said Marshbaum. "Most flags and flag pins--you know the ones the semi-patriotic American politicians always wear--are made in China." Marshbaum thought a moment. "Maybe their Army won't need to invade us. They've already defeated us."

[Dr. Brasch, an award-winning syndicated columnist, is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University and president of the Pennsylvania Press Club. His latest book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush (November 2007), available through amazon.com and other bookstores. You may contact Brasch at brasch@bloomu.edu or through his website at: www.walterbrasch.com.]

There's more...

The War on Independence Day

Dear Uncle Sam,

The war on Independence Day is at hand. Those damn liberals keep wishing me a "Happy 4th". Happy 4th? Happy 4th piece of chicken? What is that?

My neighbor has to be the most liberal of them all. He believes that if you want to buy fireworks you might as well wad some cash up and set fire to it. What a traitor! He thinks patriotism is wearing one of those Old Navy t-shirts with the flag on them, but I believe that is desecration of the flag. After all he's a fat, bald, ugly guy with a lot of body hair. Nobody wants to see our flag look like that.

Traditionally, I always show my patriotism by beginning the festivities on July 1. After all, Independence Day is so important that I believe we should celebrate it for at least 1 week. My neighbor, unpatriotic bastard that he is, has the balls to ask me to save it until the 4th, and calls the cops reporting me for using illegal fireworks and disturbing the peace. Note to neighbor: if the fireworks weren't illegal they wouldn't sell them. Maybe he's just pissed off that one of my ground blooming flowers caused his car to explode last year. It wasn't my fault that he had gas leaking from his car. Maybe he should have gotten that fuel line checked.

There's more...

Diaries

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