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Embracing the New Patriotism

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flag

by Francis Arouet

It's time to stop protesting.

Who ever thought I'd be saying that? I, who never saw a street demonstration I didn't like, suddenly waving the flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance?

Not quite. I am as convinced as ever of the importance of direct action in bringing about the society we envision.

But as there is a moment for protest, so there is a moment for a deeper wisdom, for knowing when to set aside our personal agendas and stand squarely behind our country.

This is not a position I reached without long and painful thought. In fact, I have spent years pondering the issues.

Into the Future

I began writing this article in Fall 2001, right after the first attack on the World Trade Center. At that time I had a very different essay in mind, a message of keeping hope alive and resisting the government's War on Terrorism.

Now, in the year 2021 — 20 years later — I have come to quite a different conclusion.

Those 20 years saw events that changed the face of human history:

  • Seven cities obliterated by nuclear weapons, three of them in the United States.
  • The Constitution amended 137 times, redefining American liberties.
  • Christianity adopted as the official state religion.
  • And most of all — the country finally finding its soul and uniting behind our leaders in the War on Terrorism.

Facing Reality

For me, it was a slow road. After the original attacks in September 2001 (I forget the exact day), my first reaction was knee-jerk liberalism. I marched against the war, and abhorred what I saw around me: smug patriotism, scapegoating of Arabs, and everywhere the rhetoric of revenge.

But I don't want to make excuses. I know I overstepped the bounds of decency when I suggested that the terror attacks were like "chickens coming home to roost," and that millions of people abroad associated America with violence, repression, and exploitation.

Even worse, I rebelled when the great John Ashcroft argued that the only way to save our hard-won liberties was to stop exercising them.

So lost in a liberal miasma was I that the mere sight of an American flag made me nauseous. I found myself avoiding schools, shopping centers, and sporting events in my phobia of the flag and the crowds that adored it.

Little did I suspect that my salvation would come through that very flag. Yes, Old Glory herself finally awoke me from my stupor, confronting me not with patriotic pageantry but with cold economic facts: the manufacture, transport, and sale of American flags almost single-handedly pulled the country out of the recession of 2001!

It was a miracle — people's faith in America had blossomed into the dawn of a new prosperity.

And it has proven an enduring stimulus. Each time we add a state, everyone has to buy new flags. When Russia became the 52nd state, the number of flag-buyers doubled overnight, and the Dow Jones index reached record levels. As the Canadian provinces are admitted to statehood one at a time, sales should sustain the economy for a decade.

Anthrax and Insane Demands

Yet despite my budding clarity, I clung to misguided humanitarian impulses. Couldn't we honor and love America while admitting that we might not be the best of global neighbors? Wasn't there room for positive action toward peace and justice that might lessen international tensions?

That was before the attack on the New York Stock Exchange: March 29, 2005. On that date terrorists (later identified as Islamic Basque separatists from Northern Ireland) hijacked a Greyhound bus, loaded it with mad cows, and drove the living anthrax incubator into the New York Stock Exchange.

After years of bleeding-heart humanism, I began to waver. The cowards! They had struck the very spiritual center of our country. And when a tape of Afro-Cuban music was found in the hotel room of one of the suspects, I could no longer deny the truth — we were staring down the barrel of an international terrorist conspiracy.

Even worse, I could see that we were dealing with lunatics. I studied their extortionate demands — a homeland for the Palestinian people, an end to the bombing and embargo of Iraq, no more CIA meddling in the internal affairs of Moslem countries — clearly the ravings of madmen.

Dancing 'Round the Bonfire

I had come to my senses in the nick of time. But it wasn't just a matter of changing thought-patterns. I had to change my entire life. You see, I didn't just "think" alternate thoughts. I was living them. Way out on the fringe.

Back in the day, I attended Pagan rituals. We danced around a bonfire and chanted things like, "She changes everything She touches," and "Turning, turning, the tide is turning."

I admit that I took part in these rituals, even to the point of singing along. It was a youthful indiscretion. I stopped going even before they were outlawed.

That was in 2008, by which time they were a mere shadow of their former splendor. After the 87th Amendment prohibited fires (following the burning of a flag at a Berkeley protest), the spirit went out of the rituals. And when the 112th amendment banned dancing, well, what was left? A few diehards celebrated Solstice the next year, but when the ringleaders got twenty-year sentences, that was the end.

Personally, I'm doing fine with Christianity. I've come to appreciate the importance of a state religion in unifying the country. Remember when Americans could be Jews, Pagans, Moslems, Buddhists, or whatever? What a mess! The 2012 Freedom of Religion Act rectified the situation, giving people two weeks to convert or be deported. Fair enough. Especially since this was before the internet was shut down, and you could convert online.

Actually, I felt kind of funny about making Jews convert. How ironic that Israel, which had become the 57th state only a year earlier, had to force its people to become Christians. (They got their revenge by all becoming Jehovah's Witnesses.)

But the crucial thing was to get rid of Moslems and Buddhists. Islam, as is well-known, is a terrorist religion, advocating violence and vengeance as a way of life. This could not be tolerated in a free country. And Buddhists? Peace-pansies, every one. Smartest thing we ever did was deporting the whole bunch of them, no questions asked.

The Nuking of Copenhagen

Of course, it's not like religion solved everything. You still get whiners who say that our nuking of Copenhagen in 2016 was an over-reaction. Get real, folks! This is war. The Danes had just elected the Green Party to 27 seats in parliament. How long till the whole country went over to the terrorists? We had to strike swiftly and surely.

Anyway, it's not like we started it. When terrorists nuked Philadelphia in 2007, we were actually quite restrained, using only conventional weapons to obliterate Cuba, Libya, and Pakistan. And when Indianapolis was vaporized two years later, hardly anyone even noticed.

It was when nuclear terrorists struck San Francisco in 2015 that tensions reached a boiling point. The impunity of perpetrators in striking America's favorite city — ruining vacation plans for thousands of people — forced us to fight back. Unless we showed unmistakeably that we were standing firm against terrorism, we might as well throw in the towel right then. Something decisive had to be done. When the Greens won the seats in Denmark, we had no choice. Adieu, Copenhagen.

Hope in Troubled Times

Perhaps inevitably, there was a backlash. In the aftermath of Copenhagen, liberalism reared its ugly head again in the guise of Hillary Clinton. A great malaise descended over the country, and many wavered in their determination to eradicate terrorism. Some traitors even talked about a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East, including creation of a Palestinian state. (The state was to have been in northern Wisconsin, but it turned out that Yassar Arafat hates the cold, and the plans fell through.)

Just when it seemed that all was lost, the election of Ronald Reagan III in the 2020 balloting gave God-fearing Americans renewed hope in the struggle against evil. At last, a courageous leader to carry the torch of freedom and democracy!

True, the vote wasn't exactly a landslide — three of the nine Supreme Court justices voted against him. But once in office, Reagan III (a clone of Reagan II, who was a clone of the original) quickly demonstrated his resolve by executing the dissident justices under provisions of the Clean Elections Act of 2021. That impediment removed, Reagan III proceeded to bomb Iraq, order offshore drilling, and cut corporate taxes — moves which sent a clear message to terrorists everywhere:

"This country is not backing down. We are standing strong. America is open for business."

The War on Terrorism is not yet won. But at last, after twenty years and so many dashed hopes, the end is within sight. The Department of Security reported recently that the U.S. is closing in on the last terrorist stronghold, and expects to eradicate it within weeks.

Until that sweet victory, we must remain united. This is the moment to speak with one voice, to think with one mind. If we fail to use our precious freedom to support our leaders unconditionally — if we raise troublesome questions or cast doubts and aspersions — the terrorists have already won.

God bless America.

Francis Arouet is Professor of Paracultural Ideosophy at Indiana State University, Terre Haute.