Opinion

Liberals, patriots can coexist

Patriotism is an issue in which key voices on the American right feel free to bash the American left. Example: one of conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh’s favorite taunts is the “guilty liberal.” Just listen, as our nation’s most popular schlock-jock tries to conjure for us an image – of some naive little sieve, who sits around and complains about our nation’s insensitivity.

Or check out an issue of the National Review. Now here’s a magazine that was once respected for its maverick viewpoints and policy approaches. But nowadays, it devotes entire columns to the notion, that liberals do nothing but criticize our nation and its institutions.

These folks – along with some well-known, and sometimes shameless, politicans – have apparently achieved some success at making the word “liberal” synonymous with “mud.” Limbaugh and Co. have, in fact, convinced at least some of our fellow citizens: it’s ok to hate thy neighbor, and still be able to live with yourself.

Locally, it was veteran WPLG-10 political commentator Michael Putney who made one of the more striking observations.

At a recent town hall meeting that featured local and national reporters, Putney harkened back to media coverage immediately following the aftermath of September 11, when every politician and newscaster expressed an immediate, natural, and profound desire, to show support for and solidarity with those who’d suffered. Many took to wearing a pin or ribbon of the American flag. And Mr. Putney had done the same.

For a time, some newscasters and reporters thought wearing the flag might be thought of as the only appropriate, and visual correct reaction to take. But some worried those who did were jumping on a symbolic and visual bandwagon. For others, it posed another concern: that cosmetic displays of this nature suggest the endorsement of some kind of lockstep, knee-jerk conformity. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send, when you want to express solidarity, with freedom-loving nation.

And for yet others felt it represented a new variation on an old tradition: absolution. By (literally) wearing the flag on your sleeve, you might become distinguished, cleansed of sin, or at the very least, established, as ‘one of the good guys.’ Such was the type of thinking that had reigned supreme, in the America of the 1950’s – thanks largely to the exploits of one U.S. Senator, Joe McCarthy.

After a few days, Putney decided to stop wearing his pin for the camera. In response, several viewers sent letters, apparently with this decision as their source of contention. Indeed, these viewers had, in fact, noticed that he’d removed his pin – and they wanted him to know that they had noticed it. They also wanted him to know, that they weren’t too happy about it, either.

Hearing of this, I wondered: had those folks even heard of Joe McCarthy? And if they had, don’t they know what the guy did to people? Or what he did to the nation?

Better still: why didn’t the letter-writers choose another way to spend their time – and to express their patriotism? Why not, say, help another citizen in need, or do some volunteer work a local charity? It’s not like there’s a shortage of need these days.

Maybe the ghost of Joe ‘Love-it-or-leave-it’ McCarthy has returned to haunt us. Then again, maybe he never actually left.

Fact is, it’s easy to be both a patriot and a liberal. You can support tax cuts, the War in Afghanistan, and even the sentiments behind Bush’s “axis of evil” remark – and still be a liberal. And calling attention to the nation’s maladies is just as patriotic, if not more so, than only focusing on the positives.

Jason-Eric Anderson is graduate student at the School of Communication.

March 8, 2002

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

UM chatter: • One lesson learned in recent years, as one UM official put it: Don’t get your hopes up ...

The unopened Christmas gift that University of Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz recently spoke ...

Joseph Yearby declared early for the NFL draft. Gus Edwards transferred to Rutgers. Trayone Gray is ...

The University of Miami is in conversations about playing the University of Alabama to kick off the ...

He’s all grown up. Yet University of Miami defensive end Scott Patchan is only 20. Two reconstructiv ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

Former University of Miami Dean of Students William W. ‘Bill’ Sandler, Jr. passed away on August 6 a ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.