New Patriotism vs. Old

I am glad "we the people" did away with the McCarthy Un-American Activities Committee, because if it still existed, I very well might be investigated. I might be labeled a "pinko-commie rat" and boycotted from making movies. The way patriotism is measured today, I might well be unpatriotic. Here is why Joe McCarthy might have zeroed in on me:

1. I like the Aussie National Anthem better than ours. (I heard it often while I was down under.) Their anthem has a happy, lifting melody about a jolly swagman camping by a billabong under the shade of a weird tree boiling hid billy, while ours has bombs going off at the crack of dawn in the air overhead to the tune of an English tavern Saturday night off-key ditty inappropriately sung by Roseanne Barr at a bloody professional money-making athletic event.

2. The invasion of Grenada didn't make me feel good about my country.

3. Flag-burning. I didn't think we needed a constitutional amendment making the penalty 150 years in the electric chair for that act. In fact, if the Bush-Quayle campaign had gone on three more years I might have very well burned down an American flag factory in Taiwan.

4. The Bob Dornan, Newt Gingrich patriotic speeches on the House floor made me feel like they were trampling the flag by wanting to force people to salute, like Hitler forced people to salute the Nazi swastika.

5. I felt sad, rather than patriotic, when I saw a marine Colonel in uniform with ribbons from his neck to his navel take the Fifth Amendment to protect his ass and keep him from testifying.

I might have a smidge of patriotism left in me because my hair stands straight up when I see groups of kids waving flags while marching to hear a real American hero. My hair stands straight up when I hear a choir sing "America the Beautiful." I get a lump in my throat when I hear a re-run of JFK's "ask not" speech. Something happens when I hear a re-run of LBJ's declaration of war on poverty, and emancipation wasn't just a speech or proclamation, it became real. My heart thumps when I look at the world from the top of the majestic Kiamichi Mountain, although I do not like that name (sounds too Japanese). I would rather have it named Jones Mountain, after a gay soldier friend who died with his body full of enemy bullets after he was ordered to move in on an enemy pillbox in Manilla. It wasn't a pretty sight, but I wish Buchanan and Limbaugh could have witnessed it.

Something else makes me feel patriotic -- you or I can write about any subject we want even when we reach seventy-something and still be published by gutsy editors, and placed alongside real writers. I had a good warm feeling about being labeled a "sage" by Oklahoma Observer editor Frosty Troy until I looked it up and found this ego deflating definition:

"Sage: Gray-green in color, good for sausage stuffing, common on dry plains."

I am going to plagiarize my favorite TV commentator. She ends her broadcast with "... and so it goes."

Charlie Wilson is a former house painter, mayor, school board member and retired merchant who operates a small coffee bar at the Salvation Army shop in Heavener, Okla. This originally appeared a while back in the Oklahoma Observer.

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