About those flag pins …
The one that Trump wears, a sine qua non accessory of so many of his sycophants and other politicos. Wearing a flag pin is analogous with flag-waving. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, flag-waving is an “ostentatiously emotional display of patriotism or factionalism (synonyms: jingoistic, nationalistic, super-patriotic, ultra-nationalistic, chauvinistic), a propaganda technique to justify actions based on that connection.
So no, wearing a flag pin does not mean you are patriotic, or that you’re American. First, if you are running to be a candidate for the presidency of the United States, what is the point of wearing a flag pin? It is not right to use the flag for political advancement, especially when you discover how this wearing of flag pins all came about, and why I personally find the practice so offensive.
This practice of wearing the Stars and Stripes started with our disgraced President Nixon as a statement against anti-war protesters (among whom I was one), according to a 2008 history of the flag pin published in Time.
However, it was Robert Redford’s use of the pin in 1972’s “The Candidate” that gave Nixon’s chief of staff, H.R. Halderman, the idea of affixing a flag to the presidential lapel.
Republicans wore the pins to identify themselves as patriots — so much more patriotic than those who opposed the immoral Vietnam War. President Nixon was the first to make the wearing of a flag pin part of his campaign. He thought it was a great idea, and told his supporters to go wear them.
Now, let’s see. What do the following persons all have in common — Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bob Dole, John McCain and Jim Webb?
Eisenhower was a West Point graduate, a five-star general, architect of D-Day, a U.S. president. He did not wear a flag lapel pin. His record spoke for itself.
Dole was a World War II hero, U.S. Senator, vice presidential and presidential candidate. He did not wear a flag lapel pin. His record spoke for itself.
McCain was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was shot down while flying his plane in the Vietnam War, and served more than five years in Hóa Ló Prison in Hanoi. I never did see the American flag pin adorn his lapel. His record spoke for itself. No one would dare call McCain unpatriotic, except for Donald Trump.
Webb was a much-decorated U.S. Marine who served and was wounded in Vietnam. When he was a Senator and briefly a presidential candidate, he did not feel obligated to wear his patriotism on his lapel.
So again, what do all these men have in common? They all served in the U.S. armed forces. They all saw and experienced combat. To them, that was enough. Webb believes a man doesn’t need to advertise his patriotism. It is in his very essence and being.
So why do all the others wear the flag lapel? I call it political opportunism. They all feel that this tin badge make up or compensates for not having served in the military because of some heel spur. Or it’s political conformity of the worst kind: “If I don’t wear the pin, it will be pointed out, and I can’t take the criticism,” these politicians must think.
Running for president is an act of patriotism. For political consumption, it is not required to affix the flag pin on your clothes (who can forget Sarah Palin’s gaudy rhinestone pin?).
The life you have led, the acts you have performed, the things you say and believe in — that’s how you should be viewed and judged.
Not by sporting a flag pin. Really, it is so offensive.