Sunday, June 25, 2017

Keeping Up Appearances

I was on LinkedIn, and someone had posted an "article" that was little more than a cropped photograph of some legislators sitting down, while other stood with their hands over their hearts. It was titled: "Our disrespectful congress members," and called for members of Congress who refused "to stand for our country" to be voted out of office.

The first thing that crossed my mind was "Do you want empty ritualism? Because this is how you get empty ritualism."

I'm one of those people for whom The United States of America, Pledge of Allegiance and the flag of the United States are separate and distinct things from one another. Accordingly, I can come up with ways in which Congress has been much more "disrespectful" to the United States and its population than simply refusing to be bothered to stand every time there is a recitation of the Pledge, the National Anthem or whatever other patriotism litmus test someone came up with this week.

There isn't a high enough correlation between love of country and certain specific words or actions to be able to equate the two. Sure, there are people who use their public refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or to salute the flag as a means of protesting what they understand to be wrong with the nation. It does not follow from this, that everyone who, for whatever reason, doesn't recite the pledge or stand when expected to is protesting something. (Nor does it follow, for that matter, that protest is a form of expressing disrespect.) One can do "all the right things" and still have no love or respect for the United States. Feeling that the nation does not deserve positive regard does not render one incapable of saying the words.

Choosing to sir during the national anthem or to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with gusto are matters of style and not substance. Conflating the two has never been useful.

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