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Flag includes red AND blue

Alex Miller

My father, who makes the likes of James Dobson and Dick Cheney look like lefties of the Fonda kind, often suggests to me that Democrats and liberals (the terms are interchangeable) are unpatriotic. Those who dare to criticize the current administration are particularly odious, perhaps even traitorous.Alas, his is not an uncommon view. We hear it coming from sources ranging from rant-righty radio all the way to the White House. On the other end of the spectrum are people who dislike the Bushies so much that it colors their very view of the country as a whole. One such person questioned my raising the flag this past Memorial Day, somehow convinced that, through this action, I was somehow helping to further the administration’s hated agenda.Sigh. I could only take solace in the notion that, if both sides were questioning either my patriotism or my sanity, perhaps I was landing in a place of balance. One need not be a fan of the current occupant of the White House to raise the flag in honor of those who’ve fought our wars – just or otherwise. But is the Republican next door surprised that a liberal media professional like me could actually love his country?Probably. There’s been a pretty convincing case put forth by the red faction that the media is bad, that liberal is a dirty word and that those of my ilk somehow like terrorists – especially if we suggest Arab prisoners be given POW status. It’s weird, like being accused of a crime we didn’t commit.I actually think being a member of the media is a pretty noble profession, despite some bad apples who’ve given it a bad name. As people dedicated to informing the public, keeping an eye on business and industry and functioning as the “Fourth Estate” of government, we occupy something of a special place. And ours is the only occupation singled out in the First Amendment of the Constitution as something important enough to protect at all costs.Those who question and criticize, like the men who founded this country, make for better citizens – not the ones who follow the government line in lock-step. Much as I dislike what the Bush administration is up to in nearly every facet imaginable, I was also a frequent and vocal critic of the Clinton administration. Blind obedience to any government is a mistake, and those who try to stifle dissent and brand critics as “traitors” or even “liberals” are sadly deluded underminers of the American ideal. The same will be true when the Democrats are back in power.With Independence Day just around the corner, we’ll hear plenty of what it means to be an American, with the usual emphasis on the military and those who served or are serving. While those folks assuredly deserve their due, one need not take up arms to defend one’s country or preserve its ideals. We can accomplish that every day by keeping informed, writing letters to our elected representatives or simply questioning something that doesn’t seem quite right.Also, while not every soldier at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo is a Geneva Convention-stomping idiot, neither is every member of the media a fact-fabricating liberal conspiracist. Painting everything and everybody in black and white or red and blue is an unfortunate trend that unravels the very fabric of our national community. Indeed, how can we feel “patriotic” – or even kindly disposed toward our fellow Americans – if we think half of them are morally bankrupt idiots?Even with the country out of balance, I’ll hang the flag again this July 4 the same way I continue to wear my wedding ring even when my wife and I are at odds. To me, it represents all the best America has to offer as well as the hope that somehow and some day, we’ll correct this list to starboard and get back on a more even keel.Assistant Managing Editor Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615.Vail, Colorado


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