Thursday, September 24, 2009

You call that patriotism?

Chuck Norris is calling on his fellow tea partiers to deface the American flag. I'm not kidding.
I suggest you fly some revolutionary flag in lieu of your 50-star flag over the next year. Post the 13-star Betsy Ross flag, Navy Jack or Gadsden flag ("Don't Tread on Me") or any representation that tells the story of Old Glory and makes a stand for our Founders' vision of America.

Of course, patriots know that the 50-star flag truly represents one nation under God and our Founders' republic, but modernists simply don't get it. So what do you say we make a statement by flying a different flag and educate our neighbors when they ask us, "Why are you flying that flag instead of the contemporary Stars and Stripes?" (If you insist on posting a modern USA flag, too, then get one that is tea-stained to show your solidarity with our Founders.)

Really? Stain the flag? I have a better idea Chuck, maybe you could show your dissatisfaction with the government by stomping on the flag or burning it.

I'm not an aging former martial arts star with a Townhall column, so maybe I'm not up to snuff on this, but, when I was in the Cub Scouts, they taught us that soiling the flag was a definite no-no. It's this kind of suggestion that usually drives conservatives to write, call and shout at their congressional representatives to pass laws and constitutional amendments criminalizing flag desecration. For the record, I oppose such laws because I see them as the thin end of the wedge that leads to complete abandonment of the First Amendment. However, i do expect people who claim to respect the flag to actually - you know - respect the flag. This kind of suggestion seem to me to be of a part with those who want to demonstrate their patriotism by seceding and dismantling the Union.

Beyond the forehead smacking idiocy of his suggestion, Norris' column and the comments that follow offer an insightful glimpse into what my friend David Neiwert calls the eliminationist mindset. Norris sets up the us-or-them framework. Naturally, he calls his side the "patriots." What's surprising is what he calls his side's perceived enemies (that's us, dear readers); he calls us "modernists." While conservatism is anti-modern at its core, it's rare to see such an open admission from anyone, except the most extreme fundamentalist, that they are in revolt against the modernity. They usually claim that they are opposed to certain cultural aspects of modernity, not the whole shebang. More ominously, he says of the teabagger movement "we are seeking to protect our nation against enemies of our republic from within (his italics).

Norris' fans take up his Manichean frame and run straight towards the eliminationist goal zone. Cliff in comment #134 says of us, "this group is anti-American. They are traitors in our midst." Linda at #141 confesses, "This is the first time I have ever felt that we are truly being betrayed by our President and that instead of wanting to defend and protect this country, he is trying to bring it down and destroy it. His actions have not been that of an American, but that of a Benedict Arnold." vamtns41 at #15 echoes Norris' language: "Our enemies within (Statist, progressives, far left liberals, Marxist, communist, etc.) are clearly working hard and often successfully at destroying our great country." Jocey at #40 moves them closer to eliminationism: "We really ought to charge with treason those representatives who wantenly (sic) trample the Constitution." What is it that you do with traitors? Herbert at #11 answers the question: "[O]bama should be tried for treason,and put on death row."

This is what passes for patriotism on the far right these days--desecrate the flag and kill the president. These people are dangerous nuts who should be shunned by anyone that we have entrusted with authority or power. Yet one side of our two party system has chosen to pander to the nuts, embrace, and encourage them. It's enough to make the sober want to drink and the drinkers want to give it up.

Update: Looks like Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly beat me to this.
I'm rarely able to understand Norris' perspective, but this seems especially bizarre. Americans who claim to be patriotic should stop flying the American flag? If patriots insist on using the stars and stripes, Norris wants them to pour tea on the flag until it's deliberately stained?

Norris added that doing this would "make our Founders proud." I have no idea what this means.

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