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First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.

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Is Our Flag Still There? - Thursday, July 01, 2010 at 17:56


Breaking News:

Pan Am Bomber Didn’t Die

The Pan Am bomber murdered 270 people when he caused a Pan Am airliner to crash over Lockerbie, Scotland. He was released from life imprisonment last year, because a doctor declared that his prostate cancer was “terminal,” and he was given three months to live. But he is still living in Libya, where he was greeted as a hero. The same doctor now says he may live another 10 years.

From this I conclude:

1.    Estimates of survival from serious illnesses are notoriously inaccurate.

2.    It’s too bad he is a mass murderer instead of an innocent patient. Then his water and food might have been cut off, and he would have died over 13 days or so. After all, that is “peaceful, even pleasant,” the way it was for Terry Schiavo.

This is a perfect illustration of the proverb: He who is kind to the cruel will in the end be cruel to the kind.

Is Our Flag Still There?

Thoughts for July Fourth

David C. Stolinsky, MD
July 1, 2010

And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
− Francis Scott Key, “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Key wrote our national anthem during the War of 1812. The British were bombarding Fort McHenry in Baltimore. Through the night, Key was encouraged that continued firing from the fort gave proof that our flag was still there. He couldn’t see the flag. But the evidence that those within the fort were still fighting renewed Key’s faith. And the morning sun showed that the tattered Star-Spangled Banner was still flying proudly.

Our situation is similar. Except for military personnel, we are not in physical danger – at least at the moment. But we are under attack, and we hope that our flag is still there. Is it?

After 9/11 flags appeared everywhere. Except for fire trucks, most of these flags are gone. Yes, enthusiasm diminishes with time, but the significance may be deeper. Inquiries flooded recruiters after 9/11, but actual enlistments increased little.

Contrast this with the response to Pearl Harbor. The next morning, there were long lines at recruiting stations all over the country. Underage kids with phony identification stood in line with older men, many of whom had already served.

More people were killed on 9/11 than at Pearl Harbor. Most of those killed on 9/11 were civilians, while most of the dead at Pearl Harbor were military personnel. And 9/11 occurred in New York and Washington, not on Hawaii − then perceived as a distant island. The horror of 9/11 was carried on live TV, while news of Pearl Harbor came by radio and newspapers. The impact of 9/11 should have been greater.

Our military is stretched thin. Iraq is at least a partial success, but more remains to be done. We have barely enough personnel to keep Afghanistan from boiling over. In part, this is due to our error in not building up the Army and Marine Corps after 9/11. But if recruiting quotas had been raised, we might have had trouble filling them.

Despite what Key wrote, the most encouraging sign was not that the flag was still flying from the fort, but that the flag was still flying in the hearts of Americans. Key took this for granted. Can we?

The British respect their flag, but the symbol of their nation is the queen. If she is present, the audience stands to sing “God Save the Queen” and faces her, while she remains seated. But when our national anthem is played, everyone including the president stands and faces the flag. The British dip their flag in salute. To salute high officials, they touch their flag to the ground.

We never dip our flag to anyone, much less touch it to the ground. We chose not to have a monarch. Our flag is the symbol of our nation and the focus of our loyalty. That’s the key word – loyalty.

I’m old enough to have been brought up as an American. In school, I had to memorize the first and fourth verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The fourth verse is now ignored – it mentions (gasp!) God. And I memorized the Preamble to the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address. But memorization is “obsolete.”

Instead of “social studies,” I studied American history and civics. But that might make some students “uncomfortable.” We observed Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays, not the meaningless Presidents’ Day, and certainly not Cinco de Mayo. On Flag Day we had a program about our flag. Our teachers never had us march with the flags of the nations our ancestors chose to leave, as was done in a school recently. I was luckier than today’s kids.

I took ROTC in high school and college. Many schools kicked this program out. Some people find uniforms offensive, not to mention drilling with rifles. As a result, the services are deprived of a major source of civilian-educated officers. And boys are deprived of positive male role models, which they desperately need.

We said the Pledge of Allegiance to start each day. The Pledge has been eliminated in many schools. Some people object to the words “under God.” Liberals can’t tolerate the state being “under” anything. To them, the state is supreme. Kings were thought to rule with God’s permission, but the liberal notion of government usurps God’s role entirely. Government becomes the final arbiter of right and wrong.

It is no coincidence that the most tyrannical regimes of recent times, Nazism and communism, were anti-religious. Religious extremism can also be dangerous – consider 9/11. But the answer is not to go to the opposite extreme. Incompetent doctors are dangerous, too, but in response we do not abolish hospitals. We do our best to train good doctors.

Ben Franklin proposed “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God” as our national motto. With God banished, a major justification for opposing tyrants is removed. This may be the underlying reason that liberals banished God from public life.

The Bill of Rights gives us no rights – it lists God-given rights. But if God isn’t the source of rights, the state must be. And what the state gives, it can take away. If the Bill of Rights were repealed, would we still have rights? The Founders, who were religious to varying degrees, would say yes. Liberals would say no. Which point of view is friendlier to liberty?

● We can’t claim to “love all humanity,” then belittle our own nation and teach school kids to look down on it.

● We can’t claim to “see the point of view” of terrorists, then express hatred and contempt for Americans who disagree with us.

● We can’t claim to “love freedom,” then support politicians who want to silence talk-radio hosts who disagree with them, nor can we confirm a Supreme Court nominee who wants to “redistribute” speech until it suits her agenda.

● We can’t claim to be “clear-thinking,” then be unable to distinguish terrorists from soldiers, or aggression from self-defense.

● We can’t claim to be “the home of the brave,” then be afraid to call terrorists “terrorists,” and instead call them “militants,” while we rename terrorism “man-made disasters.” Thus we demonstrate both cowardice and a broken moral compass.

● We can’t claim to be “tolerant,” then insult Christians while not daring to say a word against extremist Muslims.

● We can’t claim to “support our troops,” then condemn what they do, and call them ignorant losers who can’t get “good” jobs. Isn’t defending freedom a “good” job?

● We can’t claim to “love our country,” then announce that we have “lost” a war we are fighting successfully.

● We can’t claim to “respect our flag,” then allow Mexican flags but forbid American flags on Cinco de Mayo, which is a Mexican holiday but not their independence day.

● We can’t claim to be “loyal citizens,” then deny high-school students’ request to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

● We can’t claim to “encourage debate,” then call the Arizona immigration law “Nazi” and indoctrinate school children against it.

● We can’t claim to “love the poor,” then condemn the free-enterprise system that creates prosperity.

● We can’t claim to “love freedom,” then assert that Iraq was better off under Saddam’s tyranny. Do only people of European ancestry deserve freedom?

● We can’t claim to be “humanitarians,” then support politicians who ignore Saddam’s brutality, just as earlier leftists ignored Stalin’s brutality.

● We can’t claim to be “informed citizens,” while a substantial number of us believe that we caused 9/11, or that intense fire can’t soften steel beams.

If the defenders of Fort McHenry had behaved like that, they would have deserted when the British fleet appeared – then blamed us for attacking the fort.

If the Marines on Iwo Jima had been that faint-hearted, they wouldn’t have bothered to raise the flag, and Asia would have remained under the brutal, racist tyranny of imperial Japan. (The flag was raised by five Marines and one Navy Corpsman.)

If those underage kids and older men hadn’t enlisted, Europe would have remained under Nazi despotism. Europeans who condemn American “militarism” should remember to whom they owe the right to criticize anything.

And if we don’t follow the courageous example of those who bequeathed us our freedom, we will allow the world to fall under the domination of barbarians whose brand of politics includes decapitations but not elections.

Is our flag still there? Don’t look at flagpoles or car antennas. Look into your own heart. Then answer the question. In order to have homeland security, first you need a homeland.

Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: