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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Sunshine patriots

For the "anything can happen" file:

"People finally felt like our generation had reclaimed patriotism," said Haley Fagan, 24, a Berkeley paralegal who got stuck in a car trying to cross the street as the crowd surged. "It was a moment that we felt comfortable with it."

After generations of finding their voice in dissidence, some Americans on the left wing are adjusting not only to a new postelection comfort with patriotic symbols, but also to the political reality they represent. Believing in Obama after Inauguration Day will mean identifying with the machinery of U.S. power.

"There's a left-wing tradition of being systematically opposed to the U.S. government, knee-jerk reactionary - most of our presidents have made it fairly easy to do," said Jo Freeman, author of "At Berkeley in the Sixties," a memoir of her student activism. "Those who view everything the U.S. does as automatically suspect already have a problem doing that with Obama."

They reclaimed patriotism? Nobody stole it from them. They just did without it because the country somehow failed to live up to the idealized version tucked inside their otherwise empty heads. They're equating love of country with admiration for the administration, which is about as shallow as you can get. No wonder such people completely misunderstand the sentiment "my country right or wrong." It doesn't mean excusing the country for its sins. It's like saying "my family is my family, no matter what."

Oh, what's the use? These people will no more turn patriotic than the pope will become atheistic.


Tue, 01/06/2009 - 12:36pm

I can't speak to the 60s, but for awhile there in the earlier part of the decade, it seemed really tough to embrace American symbolism while at the same time making it clear that one rejected the toxic behavior of the Bush administration.