Earlier this morning, Rowan talked about the ideology of totalitarian nationalism represented in the motto of the Republican National Convention: Country First. That totalitarian nationalism is much more than a slogan, unfortunately. It is reflected in the legislative agenda the Republicans promote.
The new Republican Party platform, passed this week, supports the creation of a nationalist cult of the American flag. Think it’s going too far to describe it as a cult? Well, the Republicans themselves describe the American flag as sacred. The GOP platform promotes laws that would outlaw the “desecration” of the American flag:
“The symbol of our unity, to which we all pledge allegiance, is the flag. By whatever legislative method is most feasible, Old Glory should be given legal protection against desecration.”
“Desecrate” means to take something that is sacred and treat it as if it is not sacred. A thing is sacred if it is given religious worship. By saying that the flag should be given “protection against desecration”, the Republicans are saying that the flag should be regarded as a sacred religious object, with special status to protect its worship.
Of course, the Republican Party platform doesn’t just stop at saying that the flag’s status as a special protected religious symbol should be protected and respected. They want to compel all Americans to take part in the worship of the American flag, by making it against the law to treat the American flag in any way that is not compatible with respectful religious worship.
Republicans want to use the power of government to compel all Americans to join their cult of nationalism and worship the flag. They want to use “whatever legislative method is most feasible”, meaning a law or an amendment to the Constitution.
An amendment to the Constitution requiring Americans to take part in the worship of the American flag as a sacred religious idol would override the first amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion and would override our right to free speech as well. It would create an official American state religion with the flag as the cult’s primary symbol.
Of course, the flag would just remain a symbol in this Republican cult. The worship of the flag would really be an indirect worship of something else. As the American Heritage Dictionary explains in its definition of the word “sacred”, a sacred object is something “dedicated to or set apart for the worship of a deity”.
Christians who think that John McCain and Sarah Palin are on your side, take note: The deity of the Republican’s cult of the flag would not be the Christian God. No, under the cult proposed by the GOP platform, the deity to be worshipped would be the state itself. The nation of the United States of America would be elevated to the status of a god.
That’s the danger of Country First. In a totalitarian state, absolute devotion, even religious worship, is expected to be given to the state.
The Republicans say that they’re for small government, but their own political party platform proves that they only support shrinking the parts of the federal government that actually serve people and protect our liberty. As their platform shows, the Republicans want to expand the actual scope of the government, and make it something that we do not have the freedom to defy or disrespect.
We liberals oppose the Republicans’ attempt to create a cult of totalitarian nationalism. We support the freedom of all Americans to show disrespect to their government and its symbols. In fact, we believe that any nation that attempts to compel respect through the force of law is unworthy of respect, and must be defied and disrespected by all citizens of conscience.