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Real patriots don't parade around with flags on their rumps
The American flag is showing up just a little too much in some questionable places.

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RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 6/9/2002

THERE IS PATRIOTISM, and
then there is what we have
going on around us these days.

It's fine if you want to have a flag of some sort on your car. But decals, bumper stickers, and Old Glory waving from the radio antenna? Well, let's just say I'm a proponent of moderation in such things.

Am I, with my flagless Toyota, less American or less patriotic, than the guy next to me with the Stars and Stripes plastered all over his Honda? He may think so, but I don't care what he thinks. It may be important to him that I know he is patriotic, but I'm not sure why.

Isn't it a bit unsettling when an American flag sticker is sharing bumper space with, say, a Washington Redskins sticker? They wouldn't seem to garner the same level of importance or respect.

The flag binge doesn't end with cars, of course. Since we're right in between Memorial Day and Independence Day--the two most patriotic holidays of the year--not to mention Flag Day coming up this Friday, the fervor may be at its peak. It probably doesn't help that during the warmer months, people are wearing their most casual and expressive clothing, and living life in conveniently disposable fashion.

The grand old flag is suffering from an overdose of overexposure in the wake of Sept. 11. The issue here is whether the American right to free expression legitimizes such uses of the flag, or whether they cross the line into bad taste at best, and desecration at worst.

I'm not too bothered by a T-shirt with an American flag on it, but they've got patriotic panties at Kohl's, for example, and flag socks and sandals, even beach towels that let you lie around on the flag. There are U.S. flag dish towels for those who want to feel patriotic in the kitchen. They've also got a bucket
of American flag torches, so you can burn the flag even if the last thing you'd ever do is burn the flag.


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