The return of the “flag-waving liberal”?

Taking a cue from Chris Matthews’ admission that it was his “job” to help the incoming administration succeed, for the third week in a row (read about the prior two here) The Charlotte Observer published another special piece on Obama’s election, this time in the “Big Picture” section – and the specific subject matter was related to how many liberals suddenly “felt patriotic” again to the point that many of them now felt good about hanging their flags for the first time in a long time:

Ronnie Chapman has hidden away his American flag for much of the past eight years.

“I felt it was no longer a symbol of the country I love, but of Bush and support for his war” said the 48-year-old pharmacist from Cary.

“The first thing I did the morning after the election was take it from my den and fly it proudly in front of my house.”

Chapman’s response to the presidential election reflects the emergence of an unusual – and some might say contradictory – new figure: the flag-waving liberal.

After a divisive presidency and strident campaign in which patriotism was used as a wedge issue, supporters of President-elect Obama are hanging flags, donning Old Glory lapel pins and humming the national anthem.

“We just feel this pride and this swelling of joy” said Cheryl Kimmel, 49, of Cary, who worked on Obama’s campaign with her 18-year-old daughter, Jeanelle Alexander. “We’re extremely proud to be Americans today.”

“For years it’s felt like patriotism was a Republican thing” said Raven Moeslinger, 21, a senior at UNC Chapel Hill. “Now I feel like we’ve reclaimed it.”

“The night after the election, I got in bed and started reading the Declaration of Independence for the first time in a long time” said Sherry Harmon, 55, of Cary. “I felt I needed to touch base with our roots because I think we need to refresh our ideas of who we are as Americans.”

Though many Republicans – including President Bush and Sen. John McCain – have hailed the election of the first African American president as a watershed moment in which Americans should take pride, others view the outburst of patriotism with feelings that range from chagrin to bewilderment. They find it ironic that Obama has inspired such feelings.

After all, they say, he’s the same man who for a time refused to wear a flag pin on his lapel, whose longtime spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had chanted, “God damn America” and whose wife, Michelle, had said during the campaign: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.”

These Republicans see Democrats as sunshine patriots, stirred more by partisan victory than love of country. “In my circles, we have always been proud of what America represents” said David Smudski, 52, the chairman of the Durham County Republican Party. “We are happy that people are proud to fly it (the flag) again. We think it should have been flown all along.”

The surge in patriotism is a particularly American response, anchored in contemporary political culture and the broad currents of American history. It reveals the alienation many Democrats felt from their government during a controversial wartime presidency, as well as the pivotal role that patriotism has long played throughout our history.

It’s a lengthy article, but well-worth the read as it gives insight not only on just how warped many a liberal’s viewpoint on displaying patriotism is, but also because the article is a case study into how writers of this state’s top newspapers spin and twist history in order to create a false narrative – and then tear it down. I should note that this article was written by journalists from the Charlotte Observer’s sister paper The Raleigh News and Observer and was published in that paper’s Sunday edition last week. Apparently The Charlotte Observer wanted to make sure that their readers, too, understood now how it was “cool” to be “patriotic” again.

I have said it before and I will say it again: It doesn’t matter who the president is, nor what the pressing issue happens to be in this country at any given time; there is no reason why any, any, person in this country who loves it should ever be ashamed to fly their flags in their yards, hang small ones in their homes, wear a flag pin, or what have you regardless of whoever our President is. The mistake modern-day liberals like Barack Obama make on the hanging of the flag and other traditional displays of patriotism is that they believe the flag merely represents the president of this country. It does not. It represents the ideals upon which this nation was founded. It represents a love of country that goes way beyond whoever currently occupies the Oval Office. I proudly displayed this country’s flag during the Clinton administration years, and I’ll proudly display one during the Obama administration. NO PRESIDENT will ever make me ashamed to display my country’s flag.

At the same time, NO PRESIDENT will ever make me ashamed enough to burn the US flag, because – again – unlike the left, I don’t view the flag as a symbol of this nation’s President but instead as a symbol of the freedoms that make this nation the best one in the world. No matter how much I disagree with Barack Obama over the next four years, he could never drive me to burn our flag. Because of the left’s distorted view of what the flag is supposed to symbolize, many of them are not opposed to those on their side who would desecrate it as a display of displeasure with the policies of whatever administration currently resides at the WH.

If you’re a liberal who has been embarassed to display the flag during the last 8 years of the Bush administration, stop trying to put the blame on Republicans for your personal decision to hide the flag away until you were “proud” of this country again. For once, take some personal responsibility. No one made you put that flag in your dresser drawer. No one made you hide that flag away in your outdoor shed. YOU made that decision yourself when you determined that this nation’s flag was representative of a public figure rather than being a symbol of the ideals that make our country so great. No one can symbollically take a flag from anyone in this country without that person allowing it to happen.

Related to all this, there is an undertone in the Observer’s piece about how this election has made black people in this country proud of America, because we’ve “turned a corner.” This is an emerging theme in the media today, that electing Barack Obama means that the country is not as racist as it once was. My exit question: If John McCain had been elected president, would that mean that this country had picked him over Obama based on color – or because of something else? Is the framing of this election by the media being done in such a way as to deliberately trump up the race issue and ignore the primary issue Republicans brought up about Obama, which was his lack of experience?

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