Those war dead belong to we conservatives! You progressives stay away from them!
That's the message from my local right wing critics. They read my two recent columns about Private David Parman, the late soldier from Missouri whose grave I visited last month in Luxembourg. He died during the Battle of the Bulge, just weeks before World War II ended.
I symbolically apologized to Private Parman for the chaos and dysfunction wrought by tea partiers in the House and Senate that brought the country to a stand still for nearly three weeks. I posited that Pvt. Parman died for a higher ideal, not the "look at me!" antics of Sen. Raphael Cruz and his nihilist nabob buddies, and certainly not for that sociopath, Sarah Palin.
The critics think they own patriotism. They believe you can't be patriotic if you don't agree with their narrow world view. It's not possible to honor America if you're a progressive like me, because we want to see the greater good served, not just what's good for millionaires and billionaires.
What my critics reveal about themselves is hypocrisy akin to Cruz's and Pailn's. They no doubt partake in "socialist" programs like Medicare and Social Security and if they don't today, they will soon. They may also have received unemployment benefits, or veterans benefits, or disability benefits, all of which could fall under their definition of "socialism" (as if they even understand the term). Yet they roundly condemn "government largesse" as "statist."
In fact, their comments could be lifted from any Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity rant. They remind me of the brainwashed soldiers in the "Manchurian Candidate" when they hear the name Raymond Shaw. Conservatives tick off by rote all the jive they've heard from conservative media types when they hear words like Obama or progressivism.
Their 18th century tea party notion of "small government" doesn't work in a 21st century country where 350 million people live in a highly complex socio-economic strata that promises to become even more complex in the decades ahead.
It is that complexity, in fact, with which these poor souls struggle. They desperately want things to be simpler, easier to understand, reduced to black and white. They pine for the days of Andy Griffith and Mayberry - a North Carolina town that had no blacks, by the way.
They get all that from Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and the rest, who are successful because they appeal to and affirm the audience's fear, ignorance and, yes, prejudice.
Patriotism isn't the private property of right wingers. It's a quality all Americans of good will share. Because I disagree with what you believe doesn't mean I'm unpatriotic.
So get over yourselves, conservatives. As I told one reader, I looked, and on none of the crosses or Stars of David in Luxembourg could I find the words "conservative" or "liberal."
They were just Americans who died defending all of us.