Put politics aside and unite in remembrance and hope
I think both Anna Nussbaum and Thomas Witherspoon made some good points in their letters of Thursday and yesterday, respectively, but I disagree to some extent with both of them. The American flag means many things to many people, and I think that is where we run into trouble in waving it. I believe that Nussbaum is saying it has a negative connotation and a lack of empathy with other nations, and that patriotism is not necessarily a good thing. "Patriotism" is defined as "love and devotion to one's country." Let's hope that this love of our country will not stand in the way of loving other countries as well.
Witherspoon wants us to hang the flag in order to "propagate our superior values that it stands for in opposition to the evil values of terrorist nations." In addition, we should wave it "to convert the entire world to its patriotism." I looked up `pride' in the dictionary and I was surprised to find under its definition "an excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit." People, myself included, have used this word thinking it has a positive connotation.
Please don't misunderstand me, for I am against terrorism. However, we should not act as if we are better than everyone else, and we should not try to convert everyone on the basis of "we know what's best." Consequences have to be assessed before actions are taken and other countries, besides our own, should be included in the decision making process. We can't exclude everyone else on the theory that we are a superior nation.
Well, obviously there is a conflict here. Having people all over America wave the flag shows unity, but unity in what? Unity in fighting other nations until everyone with "evil values" is dead, along with the millions of others caught in the crossfire? Is our unity in pride for our nation? A friend of mine told me that he understands being happy where you live, but half the people who are so avid about the United States have no idea what's going on anywhere else. They haven't seen impoverished countries; they don't accept people trying to make a better life here because they are "invading their country." Where exactly did everyone else here come from?
I don't have the answers to these tough questions, but I do propose a temporary solution. On Sept. 11, we should remember all of those who died in that terrible tragedy, and even those who have died in previous tragedies all over the world. How about for one day, we forget politics and just hope that something like this will never, ever happen again. I believe that is something we call all be unified in.
All Viewpoint Stories for Tuesday, September 10, 2002