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Dobbs: Our flag belongs to all Americans

By Lou Dobbs
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Lou Dobbs' commentary appears weekly on

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Lunacy among our public figures in this country certainly didn't subside over the weeks that I've been away from the broadcast. I've been no less than astounded by the incongruity, the contradiction, the specious and silly public statements by public and political figures over something like a flag pin worn on one's lapel.


Lou Dobbs defends his decision to wear a United States flag pin on his lapel.

Like many Americans, I began wearing a flag pin after September 11. I do so out of respect for those killed in the terrorist attacks, and in recognition of this country's war on radical Islamist terror. It turns out that some journalists and some presidential candidates are uncomfortable and even upset about flags on lapels. Their comments are both disappointing and bizarre given the very serious issues facing this nation. But maybe their superior and supercilious views offer a window into what ails us as a society.

Katie Couric of CBS News takes exception to "the whole culture of wearing flags on our lapel and saying 'we' when referring to the United States." We are Americans, right, Katie? I'm sorry, but how can anyone possibly be offended by acknowledging that our troops who are sacrificing so much for us are ours, and that we are their proud countrymen?

Sen. Barack Obama put away his lapel flag pin. The senator says instead of a flag pin, his words will be a testament to his patriotism. I don't know what's wrong with the senator or why he can find any discomfort at all, but that's his right as an American. But any politician of any political party who believes their words can be an adequate substitute for the symbolic power of the American flag is sadly arrogant and horribly mistaken.

Several years ago PBS' Bill Moyers said the flag's "been hijacked and turned into a logo -- the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism." I respect Moyers and his work greatly, but he's simply, utterly wrong on this issue. The flag belongs to no group, to no party, to no special interest and to no corporation. Our flag is America's. And if journalists, by some tortured reasoning, believe the absence of the pin suggests neutrality and that gives them the pretense of objectivity, they couldn't be more wrong.

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, the New York Times reported critically about a number of news anchors, myself included, who had started wearing flag pins and went so far as to suggest those lapel pins served to "undermine the anchors' positions as disinterested conveyors of news." I've never been disinterested when it comes to this country, and I'm certainly not disinterested about the welfare of our troops nor the outcome of conflicts involving this nation.

I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to imagine something as simple as support for our flag and the national values it represents would disqualify anyone from delivering the news, nor in any way confer a higher order of patriotism upon the individual wearing such a pin.

The Couric, Moyers and Obama explanations of their discomfort with the wearing of the American flag should give us all pause, because whatever our partisan affiliation, whether liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, each of us should at least agree that we are Americans, that our allegiance is to this country and that our national values of individual liberty and equality are the foundation upon which we all stand as Americans. The flag belongs to all of us as Americans, and it's our right to either wear a lapel pin or not.

I choose to wear that flag on my lapel because the nation it represents makes that choice possible. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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