[Vision2020] Liberals: Take Back the Flag!

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Tue Jun 14 12:33:57 PDT 2016

Tom, thanks for reminding all of us of flag day.

 On this occasion I would like to offer one of my columns on the topic.

*Liberals: Take Back the Flag!*

*By Nick Gier, The Palouse Pundit*

Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion

but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.

--Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.

            It was May Day, 1967, and I was doing my daily run around the
national stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I was completing my year as
a Rotary Fellow.  There were thousands of Danish Communists, Socialists,
and Social Democrats on the expansive lawns celebrating the world’s most
important leftist holiday.

            Something struck me about what these people carried in their
hands.  For every bottle of beer, some of the best in the world, there were
just as many small Danish flags.  As an American I thought: “What a novel
idea: patriots on the left.”

This was not the first time I had noticed and admired Danish patriotism.
At every major occasion–a birthday or a wedding–little flags are festooned
everywhere and a big flag is flying in the yard.  Danish homes, including
the summer cottages, are not complete without a flag pole.

            Let us turn to another country. The Sri Lankan flag contains
two stripes, green embracing the Muslims and orange integrating the Hindus,
thus validating their Sinhalese identity in the Country of the Lion

Buddhist nationalists have removed these colors from their own flag as a
clear warning to Sri Lankan Hindus, Muslims, and Christians that they are
no longer welcome in their own country.  For these folks the upraised sword
in the lion’s paw is taking on a much more ominous meaning.

Most Americans could not place Sri Lanka (let alone Idaho) on a map, but I
still fear that some of our own nationalists might get wind of this.  One
might instruct his wife to sew a new American flag with all the Blue State
stars removed, even though the Blues pay 71 percent of the taxes and the
Reds, from 1991 to 2001, received $800 billion more in goods, services, and
cash from the feds than they paid in taxes.

Speaking of colors, I just saw for the first time the bumper sticker “These
Colors Do Not Run.”  This is message is obviously a corollary to the slogan
“Support Our Troops.”  My first thought actually was a warning that we must
not mix good European stock with other blood to make a rainbow flag.

With only a few bad eggs, I believe that our military is the best in the
world, but a true patriot would insist that we should not put these young
lives in danger unless there is a direct threat to our country, at which
time it would indeed be cowardly for us not to defend ourselves.  But when
we invade a sovereign nation, no matter how poorly led, on the basis of
“fixed” intelligence, then a quick retreat is the only honorable option.

Buddhist and American nationalism are of course the exact opposite of true
patriotism, which, like the Danes’ example, is inclusive and embracing
rather than exclusive and dividing.

Genuine patriots are loyal to the principles of their country, not
necessarily the government’s current policies.  They freely exercise their
right to dissent and to resist the tyranny of a “moral majority.”  They
also make common cause with countries that share the same liberal
democratic principles, and they remain true to the treaties that they’ve
made with them.

Wise patriots would not be afraid to admit their country’s mistakes, and
they would not make exceptionalist and paternalistic claims about national
destiny and obligation.  God blesses all nations, not just ours.

True patriotism is not a narrow nationalism that goes its own way—“you are
either with us or against us”--but one that embraces the UN charter,
international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the
Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners.

Some say that self-assertive nationalism is a product of patriarchy, and
patriotism should be replaced by, as Elousie Bell calls it, “matriotism”
whose loyalty would be to the largest community possible.

Bell is wise to insist that her matriotism does not necessarily eliminate a
personal love for country and for one’s own land.  I’ve traveled
extensively on four continents but there is nothing like the mountains,
lakes, and rivers of the Pacific Northwest that I call my true home.


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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