Sen. Barack Obama has taken off his American flag lapel pin, he says, to make a statement.She goes on to provide what I consider to be very shallow reasoning for her support. And for his decision being the correct one. Something about Obama wanting to challenge people to think.
It is a statement about patriotism: that simply showing the flag is not what true patriotism is all about. That love of America requires speaking out on issues important to its security, essential to its greatness.
I agree. Yet I winced.
How the conscious decision to discard a pin signifies some kind of challenge is beyond me.
But there is a point that the Times columnist missed. Or is simply incapable of understanding.
Why do people wear American flag lapel pins in the first place?
From Eugene Volock, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he doesn't tell his wife he loves her any more, because "I love you" has become a substitute for "true love." The Illinois senator said he hopes to show his love by explaining his ideas about their relationship to her. Guess what the wife would think about that.
Of course, the story (from the AP) is a little different ... [he goes on to outline the familiar story about the flag pin and Obama's decision].
But the essence is similar: Wearing a flag pin is not supposed to be an explanation or an argument, just as "I love you" is not supposed to be an explanation or an argument. It's supposed to be a traditional statement of affection, powerful because it's cliché.
[I]f you used to say this and then you stopped, the symbolic message is pretty powerful. And that's true even though many people say "I love you" without meaning it (just as there are some who wear the flag pin but are just opportunists, not patriots). Even if this abuse of the phrase weakens its symbolism, an outright renunciation of the phrase retains its symbolism just fine.
The American people want a president who loves their country and who expresses that love, at an emotional as well as an intellectual level. For better or worse, a President Spock won't get elected. Candidate Obama should know that. (link)
Columnist Strother should know that too.