A lot of times, I find a story that I want to comment on, but don’t get around to doing so. It sticks in the back of my mind, and eventually I’ll hear another story that I can connect back to it with a common theme.
Last week, I saw a story on The Jawa Report that got my blood boiling. In Pakistan, they’ve suffered horrific flooding and are in the midst of a severe humanitarian crisis. A lot of humanitarian and aid groups are doing a great deal to help out, and naturally American groups are among the most generous.
Which is a bit of a problem. You see, America isn’t exactly their favorite country, and a lot of the aid has American flags and other insignia representing its origin. This is causing a bit of backlash from Pakistanis, who don’t like seeing reminders of America. So aid officials are asking American groups to remove American symbols from the aid.
America is the most generous nation in the world. We give more aid — both as a nation and as individuals — to the rest of the world than anyone. We are the world’s first responders to disasters.
And yes, we are also pretty widely disliked around the world in a lot of places. Our policies and actions tend to irritate a lot of people — usually folks who need a bit of irritating, but often times those who don’t.
Those two facets of America are inseparable. The good comes with the bad. You don’t get to pick and choose. And sometimes, our generosity comes with reminders of just who it is who is being generous.
Our generosity is an essential part of who we are. And to ask us to remove our names and our symbols from our gifts is an intolerable insult.
And while there are times when we should not be proud of our nation, or not demonstrate our pride, simple proclamations of pride should never be “inappropriate.”
For example, also from the Jawa Report, a couple of stories about how some schools in California handled Cinco De Mayo. A few students who were not Hispanic (and not appropriately ashamed of their gringo status) thought it would be a good day to wear American flags on their shirts and fly one from their vehicle.
I hadn’t thought of it before, but I don’t think it’s EVER an inappropriate day to display the American flag in the United States. The mere thought that there are those — especially public employees — who would dare to say that a minor holiday in another nation should take precedence over the displaying of our national flag got me so infuriated I took myself by surprise. As I watched the video at that second link, I wanted to go to California myself, find the punk who smacked that flag, and kick his ass. (I’d be more likely to get my own ass kicked, as the guy looked tough and I’m not that tough, but I’m willing to try.)
Here’s a simple message I want to send to the aid agencies in Pakistan, to the teachers in Morgan Hill, California, to the proud Hispanic punk in Morgan Hill, and to anyone else who needs to hear it: that’s MY flag. That’s OUR flag. It comes with our nation, our armed forces, our diplomats, and our aid. If you don’t like that flag, fine. Feel free to avoid it — and everything that comes with it. Our gifts. Our tax dollars. Our freedoms. Our land.
Deal with it, or give up all that comes along with it.
Your choice. We’re not pushy. Don’t want the aid? Sure. Don’t want your taxpayer-backed paychecks? Fine. Give up the free schooling and other perqs of being in the United States? Here’s the border. No skin off our nose.
But don’t ask us to deny our pride in our nation and national identity while benefiting from our generosity. You need it more than we need to give it.