W Stole the Flag

Yesterday was the 9-11 anniversary. I watched the football games that showed the footage of players carrying flags 5 years ago when play resumed. I listened the a “This I Believe” segment from Frank Miller on NPR where he talked about 9-11 teaching him to love the flag again and what it represents.

I’d love to be on-board with all that. I love much of what the US stands for. I think the good outweighs the bad. I was pissed at the terrorists, even as I understood to some degree why they did it (and it wasn’t because they hate our freedoms). But the country’s most visible representative makes me not want to admit that I’m associated with him, and waving a flag has become a way of saying that you support Bush, which I don’t.

It shouldn’t be this way. I should feel proud of the things I like about the US, regardless of who’s president. In fact, I was in Europe in 1990 (when Bush 41 was in office) and had a rather emotional debate with a Swiss woman who wouldn’t say anything good about the US and its people. Still, she seemed to enjoy my company just fine, so I said that she was generalizing too much. I can’t imagine really defending us for much these days. That sucks.

I’ve talked to people from Britain and Mexico who think their leaders are just as lame as ours, but I beg to differ. Those seem to be policy disagreements, not shame. I’m ashamed of our “leader,” and I want to distance myself from him as much as possible. That sucks too. I don’t want to be that way. I want to admit our faults, but be proud of the good things that come out of here, but instead I find myself just avoiding the whole subject.

Maybe it’s the dogmatism of people who do wave the flag that does it. Or maybe it’s Bush himself. Whatever it is, I can’t do it. I can’t chant “USA” at sporting events. And I’m inclined to show with bumper stickers or whatever that I don’t regard him as my president. What a drag.

Here’s hoping that our next prez makes me a little less ashamed and makes the rest of the world hold us in a little higher regard. The rest of the world matters more than we do, and we don’t have all the answers. Obviously.

Give it back, W. Please.

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