Democracy Soup

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Is Greg Gumbel more patriotic than Barack Obama? Patriotism is about what you do, not what you wear

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Originally published on on Thu, 04/17/2008 – 9:43am

non-politician Greg Gumbel and politician Barack Obama

by Chad Rubel

“Is that a pledge pin on your uniform?” – Animal House, 1978

No offense to Greg Gumbel, but does wearing the flag pin make Gumbel more patriotic than Barack Obama?

Pinned conjures up different images in our society. There was a time when girls were pinned if the boy was serious about the relationship. Getting pinned in a wrestling match is a bad thing.

But does wearing a flag pin make you patriotic? Or perhaps the better question, does not wearing a flag pin make you unpatriotic?

According to that logic, the on-air personnel at CBS Sports are more patriotic than Barack Obama. So Greg Gumbel is more patriotic than Barack Obama.


sportscaster Greg Gumbel

The geniuses on the ABC News debate last night decided that “patriotism” was a more important topic than health care or how to create more jobs. We had a video question on whether Obama loves the flag.

The flag pin ritual became somewhat relevant after September 11 to “show patriotism.” So we became slaves to a symbol. If we wore the magic symbol, we were patriots. If we didn’t, we weren’t. Why if terrorists wore a flag pin, they couldn’t possibly blow something up, could they?

It was bad enough that politicians started to wear them. Politicians love peer pressure, but when news anchors also started wearing them, it was truly a sad day. It was almost as if they couldn’t report anything bad about the U.S., even if it was true (turns out that actually happened).

The idiocy of the flag pin controversy was captured well by Doonesbury on Sunday.

5 sportscasters, 5 flag pins

While we’ve seen fewer and fewer news people wearing the flag pins, one place you can still see them is the coverage on CBS Sports. Okay, let’s see if we can comprehend this. Are the folks at CBS Sports afraid that viewers will be confused over which country they are in? And what if an employee is Canadian, should that person be required/coerced to wear a flag pin?

Leadership is not responding to peer pressure (“You want a shot with that Hillary?”), but show direction that is right, not always popular. Obama took a big gamble by not wearing the flag pin, showed actual leadership in doing the right thing. And his reward: stupid questions about the viability of patriotism.

If patriotism was about what you wore, then Stephen Colbert wrapped in nothing but the U.S. flag would be extremely patriotic. Now he does it as a joke, but the flag pin issue is a dangerous one. False patriotism is dangerous to our democracy, and doesn’t make us any safer or patriotic.


Written by democracysoup

April 17, 2008 at 9:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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