Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | May 15, 2010

Tea partiers’ faux patriotism

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The Atlantic’s Michael Kinsley writes that “there’s nothing patriotic about the Tea Party Patriots,” supporting that assertion thusly:

… the Tea Party movement is not the solution to what ails America. It is an illustration of what ails America … because of the movement’s self-indulgent premise that none of our challenges and difficulties are our own fault.

“Personal responsibility” has been a great conservative theme in recent decades, in response to the growth of the welfare state. It is a common theme among [Tea Party Patriots]—even in response to health-care reform, as if losing your job and then getting cancer is something you shouldn’t have allowed to happen to yourself. But these days, conservatives far outdo liberals in excusing citizens from personal responsibility. To the TPPs, all of our problems are the fault of the government, and the government is a great “other,” a hideous monster over which we have no control. It spends our money and runs up vast deficits for mysterious reasons all its own. At bottom, this is a suspicion not of government but of democracy. After all, who elected this monster?

In addition, what’s been bothering me lately about the faux patriotism of the teabaggers is their use of the flag and other patriotic symbols not to express pride in America but as a political symbol. When I hesitate to display patriotic symbols for fear of being identified as a teabagger, it’s a problem. And it leads to the flag and other patriotic symbols becoming incendiary, as happened at Live Oak High School recently. That’s because the flag is no longer a just a symbol of patriotism, but also a symbol of a particular (and particularly stupid) political point of view.

What a shameful legacy.



  1. Betsy Ross is to blame for this problem. How to be patriotic but not be blatantly patriotic? How do you love your children, without making a big display of love? There is no restraint in loving your family. There is no restraint in loving our country. Just because somebody has an opposing point of view, doesn’t mean they don’t love our country. We have never had a unified opinion on issues, except to understand that the country must be united when facing calamity or war! TEA has not stolen the flag, because it is our flag not any one group or political party that only has love of country.

    • It’s not about degree of patriotism. It’s about co-opting patriotic symbols and turning them into political symbols.

  2. Like that never happened before? How about the illegal immigrant fanatics complaining about people waving the USA flag, while banners and flags wave showing Mexico? We should hide our flag in shame, and let every other country fly their flags in our land proudly to blame us for being USA?

    • No red herrings, please.

      First, if you follow the link to my column that’s embedded in this blog post, you’ll find that I criticize those who complain about American flags flying on American soil while demanding the right to fly another flag as hypocrites.

      However, that’s quite beside the point of this blog post, which is to bemoan my patriotic symbol — an American flag, since I’m an American — being corrupted into a political symbol.

  3. I do like herring and like it in wine sauce. Anyway, gladly concede that patriotism is used to make others feel guilty for some reason as if they can’t prove they are patriotic enough. But I don’t think TEA people are making anyone feel guilty, but the guilty! Enjoy your future, I need your social security deposits so keep working.

    • Who said anything about guilt? Do you hallucinate while reading?

      It’s about perception. I’d be horrified if anyone thought I was a tea party sympathizer. They hold completely illogical policies (for example, don’t raise my taxes, in fact, reduce my taxes (more than Obama already has, a fact that they don’t acknowledge) but increase the military, increase the border patrol, don’t touch my social security or medicare or schools and keep my roads smooth and safe, etc.); many of those who identify as tea partiers are racist and xenophobic; they don’t understand the meaning of words like “socialism” or “facism”; and that’s just for starters. If my displaying patriotic symbols makes people assume I hold those views, I’m likely not to display patriotic symbols. No guilt involved there.

  4. Thanks for your concern. No haven’t hallucinated since taking some interesting stuff in Mexico. “Guilt” did not need to be written, it is implicit in mourning the loss of the flag to TEA radicals. No guilt, no concern on waving the flag of USA. If guilt is nibbling away, then embaressed to wave the flag for fear of being categorized as TEA. The liberal folks do not allow anyone who resembles TEA. The fear and guilt of being ostracized and shunned by liberals is the flag problem created by TEA. Adios, happy trails!

    • Clearly, your “interesting stuff” is still affecting you, because you’re seeing things that aren’t there. Guilt has nothing to do with it and I won’t let your lame attempt to put words in my mouth or emotions in my blog post that aren’t there go unchallenged.

  5. […] I’m hesitant about displaying patriotic symbols, especially the flag. And I blame that on the faux patriotism of tea […]


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