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Martin LeFevre: Bleeding From Flag Pins

Meditations (Spirituality) - From Martin LeFevre in California

Bleeding From Flag Pins

To the cry, ‘we want our country back!’ thousands flock and dozens faint at Obama rallies, which resemble those huge gatherings of evangelical Christians in football stadiums.

Hillary is flummoxed by the Obama phenomenon. In an ultimate sign of desperation, the Hillary and Bill campaign is flirting with evangelicals. Just before a recent debate with Obama, she did a faith-based interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Hillary put on her best softside persona, and talked about how her faith has sustained her through the terrible trials with Bill and by Bill.

Using the same words that the Iraq war proponent William Kristol wrote about Obama, Hillary says, “It’s very much about him.” Half true Hillary. Even if the Obamenon is an empty, demagogic wave of hope, it sure as shinola isn’t just about Obama--it’s about what is going on in America, and the world.

The excitement spreads across the Atlantic to Europe, where previously cynical reporters tell that ‘every bar in Slovenia is abuzz with Obamamania.’ It spreads across the Mediterranean to Africa, where Kenyans who can barely afford a radio ask New York Times columnists the latest news about superdelegates.

Of course, those are Luos, Obama’s ancestral tribe. Kikuyus, which have held the reins of power since independence, support the Hillary-Kibaki ticket. The risks in expressing views on either side are a tad greater in Kenya however, where hundreds of people have been macheted for voting the wrong way according to rival tribal groups.

Does the Obamenon in America signify a genuine change in course, or a really good show of it? Clearly, nothing has changed below the surface here in dogland. Ironically, the question cannot be answered by looking at America, since if this or any other nation is the framework for transformation, there will certainly be no change.

It isn’t just that superficiality and self-satisfaction continue to rule this land at all levels, but that radical change no longer begins, and will not be defined by what happens in any country.

The Clintons, “from a place called Hope,” complain that Obama is peddling “false hope.” I’m not sure whether “true hope” is an oxymoron, but I am certain that “true patriotism” is.

If gender is the pivot point of the Democratic battle, patriotism will be the pivot point of the general election, whether Billary hangs on or Barry seals the deal with the Texas and Ohio vote.

The whole thing may come down to American flag lapel pins. For my foreign friends not acquainted with this all-important trope, some eagle-eyed reporter noticed last year that Obama no longer wore his flag on his lapel. This crime against nationalism created quite a flap, which is still producing a lot of flatulence in Republican circles.

Barry’s explanation is hardly a profile in courage: “Right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest.”

Fast forward to Michelle Obama’s startling improvisation during a stump speech recently: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”

The legions of Republican flag-wavers had a field day. “[Unlike Barack Obama], John McCain is more proud of his country than of himself…his patriotism has consisted of deeds more challenging than ‘speaking out on issues.’ ”

Following her political faux pas, Michelle made an even more astounding statement: “Barack Obama is the only person in this race who understands that before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.” Do I hear an echo?

It’s impossible to separate countries anymore. Things are changing so fast, and governments are so susceptible to worldwide pressures, that a government’s policy yesterday may not be the same today. The Bush Administration’s attitude toward the catastrophe in Kenya, and the Kibaki government’s subsequent acquiescence to power sharing, is a case in point

Nations and traditions are bleeding together, literally and metaphorically. The futile attempt to see the world in terms of them, whether on the Right or the Left, is merely an academic exercise without basis in actuality.


- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: The author welcomes comments.

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