New Patriotism vs. Old
I am glad "we the people" did away with the McCarthy Un-American
Activities Committee, because if it still existed, I very well might be
investigated. I might be labeled a "pinko-commie rat" and boycotted
from making movies. The way patriotism is measured today, I might well be
unpatriotic. Here is why Joe McCarthy might have zeroed in on me:
1. I like the Aussie National Anthem better than ours. (I heard it often
while I was down under.) Their anthem has a happy, lifting melody about
a jolly swagman camping by a billabong under the shade of a weird tree boiling
hid billy, while ours has bombs going off at the crack of dawn in the air
overhead to the tune of an English tavern Saturday night off-key ditty inappropriately
sung by Roseanne Barr at a bloody professional money-making athletic event.
2. The invasion of Grenada didn't make me feel good about my country.
3. Flag-burning. I didn't think we needed a constitutional amendment making
the penalty 150 years in the electric chair for that act. In fact, if the
Bush-Quayle campaign had gone on three more years I might have very well
burned down an American flag factory in Taiwan.
4. The Bob Dornan, Newt Gingrich patriotic speeches on the House floor made
me feel like they were trampling the flag by wanting to force people to
salute, like Hitler forced people to salute the Nazi swastika.
5. I felt sad, rather than patriotic, when I saw a marine Colonel in uniform
with ribbons from his neck to his navel take the Fifth Amendment to protect
his ass and keep him from testifying.
I might have a smidge of patriotism left in me because my hair stands straight
up when I see groups of kids waving flags while marching to hear a real
American hero. My hair stands straight up when I hear a choir sing "America
the Beautiful." I get a lump in my throat when I hear a re-run of JFK's
"ask not" speech. Something happens when I hear a re-run of LBJ's
declaration of war on poverty, and emancipation wasn't just a speech or
proclamation, it became real. My heart thumps when I look at the world from
the top of the majestic Kiamichi Mountain, although I do not like that name
(sounds too Japanese). I would rather have it named Jones Mountain, after
a gay soldier friend who died with his body full of enemy bullets after
he was ordered to move in on an enemy pillbox in Manilla. It wasn't a pretty
sight, but I wish Buchanan and Limbaugh could have witnessed it.
Something else makes me feel patriotic -- you or I can write about any subject
we want even when we reach seventy-something and still be published by gutsy
editors, and placed alongside real writers. I had a good warm feeling about
being labeled a "sage" by Oklahoma Observer editor Frosty
Troy until I looked it up and found this ego deflating definition:
"Sage: Gray-green in color, good for sausage stuffing, common on dry
I am going to plagiarize my favorite TV commentator. She ends her broadcast
with "... and so it goes."
Charlie Wilson is a former house painter, mayor, school board member
and retired merchant who operates a small coffee bar at the Salvation Army
shop in Heavener, Okla. This originally appeared a while back in the Oklahoma
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