Grado has the wrong idea about patriotism
Terence Grado’s piece titled “College professors unamerican” is perhaps the best case for the decay of the modern conservative movement. Grado’s self-described “American flag audit” is reminiscent of Stalinist tactics utilized to “expose” dissenters and undesirables in the Soviet Union.
There are times when I wonder why the hysterical right-wing of America resorts to tactics designed to impugn the patriotism of its opponents. Then I remember that the modern day neo-conservative Republican Party has proven itself to be the party of never-ending military commitments, corporate welfare and massive deficits. With most of America running scared from the Republican agenda (declaring oneself to be a Republican upon registering to vote is at a near-historic low), running a patriotism police squad from your dorm room is probably easier than inspiring people with failed policies.
People like Grado are products of a bumper sticker America. In his world patriotic acts such as public service, helping the poor or teaching students have no relevance. Patriotism to Grado begins and ends by putting a yellow ribbon on your car (that was most likely manufactured in China).
To insinuate that the professors at the College are unamerican because they refused to take part in a College Republican experiment designed to embarrass liberals is ludicrous. The professors at the College have dedicated their careers to fostering and nurturing the intellect and creativity of the future of this great country, and in return they receive meager to moderate salaries. I can’t think of too many things more American than that.
Though I am disgusted with his pathetic attempt at slandering the College faculty, I won’t go so far as to call Terence Grado unamerican. I don’t mean to impugn his patriotism, just his intelligence.
In response to Terence Grado’s unjust bashing of the College’s professors, I have decided to finally take a stand against the loud, overly-patriotic and downright annoying number of Republicans on this campus.
As a proud Democrat and American, I will come to our professors’ aid in explaining to Grado and his fellow Republicans why our professors acted as they did. The reason why so many of our most esteemed professors did not accept the generous offer of free American flags to be placed in their classrooms was because it was the College Republicans who were dolling them out. In accepting the flags from the College Republicans, they would be inherently backing the College Republicans, their party views and saying that Republicans are more patriotic than Democrats.
Why is it wrong to be angry with one’s own government or an opposing party that is ruining foreign affairs and backing a pointless war, among countless other problems?
There are other obvious reasons why our professors did not accept the most humble offer of free flags. Why would professors, no, Americans (and even our amazing foreign teachers) not accept hanging Old Glory? Well, perhaps they have lost a certain respect for our current administration.
If one is to read Grado’s article, he answers his own questions for himself, but simply does not understand or comprehend why teachers would rather not show off the most prized symbol of America, its national flag. Well, Grado and fellow blind Republicans, it is the greatest method of peaceful demonstration. It may seem stupid to many not to hang the flag because of a current administration or war, but when a group of individuals fucks up as much as this administration has, it is a strong show of American patriotism to not accept free flags from the school’s Republicans.
As for the College Democrats, where the hell are you?
Where were the free American flags being dolled out by the College Democrats? It’s simply bullshit to think that Republicans on this campus, or in any part of America, are more patriotic than Democrats. Democrats simply want a better leader, a better party and an end to the war. I for one would never accept an American flag from a Republican who implicitly believes his or her party is more American than me. I’m sorry if you can taste the anger in these words, but I, and our excellent professors, are just as American and patriotic as Grado and his party.
Terence Grado’s troubling article “College professors unamerican” would lead the reader to believe that patriotism is synonymous with McCarthyism. One would hope that people in this country learned something from the witch hunts of the 1950s in which people were hastily labeled as “American” or “anti-American” based on supposedly “incriminating” evidence, but Grado’s article raises the concern that perhaps not all of us have learned from the past.
Before going into the reasons as to why this article expressed such outlandish sentiments, the first question I ask Grado is how exactly he defines the “American Way?” He never clearly states what he means. If we assume that this can mean different things to different people, then the professor who said that the flag represented imperialism was much clearer and more logical than Grado, who simply injected the phrase “American Way” several times in his essay without explaining what exactly that means. America is currently exercising its imperial muscles in Iraq and has done so in other countries for hundreds of years; whether one feels this is right or wrong, it doubtless is a part of this country’s practice and culture. Thus, if someone feels that the American flag has come to symbolize such behavior, he or she would be quite logical and sound in saying so.
Many people also say that the American flag represents equality and liberty. While America may grant more civil liberties than several other countries, it is ludicrous to claim that we have achieved the pinnacle of civil rights or human rights. I’m sure innocent people who were held at Guantanamo Bay for no reason and then found innocent would tell you that the American flag does not represent these tenets to them, and they would be quite reasonable in saying so.
This is a country that supposedly favors dissent and the freedom to express criticism of one’s government in a peaceful way. If someone chooses to do this by simply not displaying a flag, they are practicing one of the values that this country claims to be so proud of, namely the right to dissent and criticize the government without being labeled as a traitor.
Patriotism or lack thereof aside, refusing to wave the flag is actually quite a respectful form of dissent: they are not burning or destroying the flag in any way, they are simply choosing to not display something that currently represents an ideology they disagree with.
Whether a person chooses to wave a flag or not in no way determines their devotion or positive contribution to their society, regardless of artificial nationality. Martin Luther King Jr. was a socialist, which is inherently opposed to the “American Way,” and yet he indefinitely made great reforms in this country that also inspired people around the world. Most people who truly improve their societies are not those who blindly support it.
Maybe Grado should stop being so preoccupied with images and symbols of patriotism (a concept that focuses too much on contrived borders and not enough on real positive contributions to one’s community) and instead examine why some people may not be so enthusiastic about the American flag instead of resorting to watered down McCarthyism. Ironically, his article’s nationalistic and accusatory tone prompts people to be skeptical of the American flag and patriotism in the first place.