At one point Tuesday night during the Republican convention they had a video featuring 15-year-old Victoria Blackstone reading an essay she wrote about the Pledge of Allegiance. It featured all sorts of patriotic imagery and the young woman talking about how, when she recites the pledge, she’s there with the Founding Fathers and she signs the Declaration of Independence and she’s with the slaves as they’re running for freedom and she’s marching with Martin Luther King and helping dig out the bodies at ground zero and with her cousin as he fights over in Iraq. Well, here, see for yourself:
Have you ever heard a bigger bunch of saccharine soaked sentiment? The point she appears to be trying to make is that she feels “united” in spirit with all those other people who, you know, actually did something patriotic without all the fuss of actually doing something patriotic beyond writing an essay full of platitudes. Needless to say, the Republicans just ate that shit up. It’s a pretty shallow attempt at defending the Pledge of Allegiance as this great ritual that gives kids a sense of “being a part of history” or some such nonsense ignoring the fact that, since the inclusion of the words “under God” in 1954, the Pledge is a divisive rather than inclusive patriotic ritual.
Now I’ll cut Victoria some slack because she’s 15 and hasn’t had a lot of time to actually go out and do patriotic stuff as opposed to just talking about it, but the poem seems so perfectly representative of how the Republicans like to talk about patriotism without actually doing anything that I couldn’t let it pass without comment. For example, for all the talk about “supporting our troops” the Republicans in general, and President Bush in particular, have done a pretty piss-poor job of actually doing something to support them. Like make sure they actually have all the body armor and equipment they needed to do the job they were sent overseas to do. Or to ensure that the veterans hospitals are funded well enough to not only provided the needed care to the wounded soldiers, but so that the buildings themselves didn’t literally fall down around them or make them even sicker because they were infected with mold. The Republicans don’t want to improve the G.I. Bill so that it actually provides soldiers with a decent college education because then they might decide not to re-enlist in the service. They also don’t want too many soldiers to be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because then they’d actually feel responsible for having to help them in some way so they order them dishonorably discharged for “behavior problems” thus not only preventing costly mental health payments, but also stripping them of any other benefits they might have had coming to them.
But, boy, they sure do love to talk about how much they support the troops, eh?
I’m sorry, but patriotism to me is something you do, not something you stand around talking about while swelling your chest with a false sense of pride over accomplishments you personally had nothing to do with. Whether it’s something as simple as fulfilling your civic duty by taking time off for jury duty or actually being one of the people helping out at a disaster scene such as ground zero. And, no, the action of slapping a flag on your bumper doesn’t really count.
This was all brought about by this CBS news article about how the soldiers that show up in that video clip were just actors. I guess some folks think that’s a problem:
A veteran’s advocate said that with soldiers still deployed and in harm’s way, there is an obligation not to sugar coat reality.
“What it does reveal is a serious lack of understanding and a lack of personal connection to the military,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Rieckhoff, who is at the convention with a contingent of veterans added that a video tribute to Medal of Honor Winner Michael Monsoor, a Navy Seal killed in Iraq, shown on Tuesday night, used combat video that appeared to him and several other veterans of the Iraq war to have been staged.
Staged or real, I don’t see what difference it makes. The poem itself is what they should be annoyed with, not the fact that they dressed some actors up and told them to act all patriotic and stuff. At least that’s the way I see it.
Found via ***Dave.