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"Patriotism": A Commentary

By Marisa Trevino

Dallas, TX – If something positive can be said of the recent September 11 attacks, it would have to be that our nation has blossomed with a renewed sense of patriotism. Nowhere is that more evident than in our unabashed display of the one symbol that signifies our unification as a country - the flag. Everywhere you look there are flags: flags waving in yards; flapping from truck beds and car radio antennae; glittering from the lapels of business suits, blouses and hat brims; rippling over flexing tattooed biceps; and in full, no-fade glory across the chests of t-shirts.

And just as it is a gratifying sight to see the Stars and Stripes in all these different places, it's even more stirring to see the people wearing the flags, from babies in strollers and fashion-conscious teens to tough-guy wrestlers.But there is one place within our borders where we will not see the colors of our nation readily displayed - we won't see it on the majority of our local and national television newscast anchors. Right now, there is a national debate festering among journalists that wearing the red, white and blue may send the wrong message to viewers.

Instead of it being seen as a symbol of a person's patriotism, news media says a flag or ribbon worn by on-air personnel implies solidarity with the government and its policies, thus revoking any semblance of impartiality and objectivity by the broadcast journalist. In the words of one Missouri television news director in an e-mail directive to his staff, "Leave the ribbons at home when reporting or anchoring."

For an industry that prides itself for being able to dissect the ludicrous from the rational, the flag argument has as much merit as Jerry Falwell's asinine theory on the attacks. What the argument really entails is an overzealous attempt to appear neutral by playing a word association game that exists only in the minds of those setting the rules.

The news media is equating the flag with our nation's government, while the rest of the citizens equate the flag with the country itself. What?s the difference?

The difference is the average person doesn't see the flag as signifying George W. Bush's United States or the Republicans' United States of America or the Democratic Party's U.S.A. Government is enforced, changed and amended by the administration in power. Administrations come and go.

Government, in of itself, is not constant, but the country, its ideals and its people are. The love, appreciation and devotion citizens have for their country may fluctuate in intensity, but it is always constant - just as the flag is the one constant symbol that immediately, wordlessly evokes global recognition as to our national identity. To say that the flag gives the impression that journalists are nothing more than the government's hand puppets is demeaning our national symbol and insulting the viewing audience.

The American flag is not the sole property of any one administration or party; it is the property of those who share the same beliefs as our nation's founding fathers, who said that people have a right to freely practice their religion, politics, way of life and speech. The flag symbolizes "the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Journalists included.

 

Marisa Trevino is a writer from Rowlett.