Love it or Leave It – What it Really Means

america love it or leave itI was invited on a fishing trip this past weekend with a great bunch of fellows. I had an excellent time fishing (not much catching), eating, and playing a little cards and one night as we sat around one of the fellows uttered the phrase about Loving or Leaving your Country.

I was a guest and a newcomer so I didn’t say anything and the conversation did not persist. I was thinking about that statement as the night went on and the next day. I don’t like it for a number of reasons. Up until today I always argued that the Constitution of the United States is very clear that dissent is welcome. We have a number Articles and Amendments in the aforementioned document that state unequivocally that people are allowed to criticize their country, to even hate it, and express those opinions freely and without threat of arrest much less deportation.

I don’t disavow those thoughts and I think they are valid but I suddenly realized why the statement that you should love your country or leave it is so wrong.

How do we define who loves their country? That’s the question. And the answer tells us why the statement is so very wrong.

Is it someone who never criticizes their country? Then no one loves their country for we all have our complaints. Is it someone who proclaims they love their country? Then it has no meaning because anyone can say such a thing.

The reality is quite simple.

Anyone who disagrees with me about the policies of this country must not love it. Conversely, anyone who agrees with me is a patriot who loves their country.

What I’m really saying when I say love it or leave it is: Agree with me or go away, your opinion is not valid.

That statement shows a stupendous level of conceit and ego. I’m right, you’re wrong. I want anyone who doesn’t agree with me to pack up and leave the country. I want all votes to be unanimous in line with my opinion. I tolerate no dissent. I want total control.

Love it Leave it? Hardly.

Tom Liberman

David Zien and Harley Davidson

David ZeinI’m probably going to get some grief for this post but I’m sick and tired of people waving patriotic symbols all over the place and claiming that this somehow makes them patriots. It doesn’t. Wearing a flag lapel pin doesn’t make you a patriot. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance loudly to anyone listening doesn’t make you a patriot. Waving flags everywhere you go doesn’t make you a patriot. Standing up during the National Anthem doesn’t make you a patriot.

The reason I bring this up is because there is a story making the rounds about how the awful and evil Harley Davidson is denying the warranty claims of David Zien because he flies United States flags (and other flags) from the back of his bike while riding. Zein who, it must always be mentioned prominently, served as a state senator in Wisconsin, filed the claim after his clutch and transmission failed.

Harley Davidson suggested to Zien that riding down the highway for thousands of miles with seven large flags mounted on his motorcycle voided his warranty. Great Patriot that Zien is, he went straight to Fox news to whine and cry about how a wonderful patriot like him was being abused by the awful, hateful Harley Davidson.

Why is it that those who most loudly and zealously yell about patriotism and personal responsibility are the ones who show it the least? Because they’re Flag Wavers. It’s not a compliment. It’s an insult to the real patriots of this country who go about their business and don’t feel the need to tell everyone how wonderful and patriotic they are. Those patriots I stand up and salute.

Zien served in the Marines during the Vietnam war and deserves our respect for doing so. That being said, I respect a man’s actions, not what flag he chooses to fly. Zien chose to ride down the highway with large flags which is an extremely dangerous thing to do. He paid the price for that decision in a horrific accident. Now he has to pay for a new clutch and transmission.

It’s called personal responsibility.

Tom Liberman

Did Wells Fargo Order All American Flags Removed?

wells Fargo Bank HeadlineWhat’s a boy to do? I mean, I try to have one stupid or misleading headline a week but it’s hard to ignore viciously and completely misleading headlines like this one!

Wells Fargo Bank Orders American Flags Removed from Inside of Branches! screams the completely inaccurate and misleading headline.

The story leads by telling people they should think about closing their Wells Fargo accounts.

Here’s the real story.

I’ll sum up for you. Liberty First News wants you to think that customers complained because an American Flag was flying in the bank and in response Wells Fargo removed all American flags from all their offices.

In reality the flag was tacked to a board and an employee complained that it was disrespectful to the flag to display it in such a manner. Wells Fargo agreed and had it properly displayed on a flagpole.

The vitriol of the people who apparently trust Liberty First News to supply them with accurate information has to be seen to be believed. The story now has a Facebook life of its own and the comments are filled with hate and outrage at the liberals and illegal aliens and foreigners who hate America so much. Looking for someone filled with hate? Look in the mirror.

I have some sympathy for the people who believed this story although not much. It’s easy to trust a news source and I’ve been fooled a couple of times myself while writing this blog. Still, this one seemed so strange that I immediately went out in search of the real story which I found after approximately 30 seconds.

What I don’t have sympathy for is anyone who continues to read Liberty First News and trust it as a source of information. That person is a fool.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Coming very, very soon: The Broken Throne

Traitor or Patriot – a Matter of Conscience

Benedict ArnoldThere are two stories in the headlines today that bring to mind an incredibly difficult dilemma that men and women of conscience must sometimes face. I will examine this question in great detail in my next novel, The Spear of the Hunt. Where is the line one crosses between being a patriot and being a traitor? At first glance the two seem diametrically opposed to one another but in these stories they are clearly linked.

A fellow named Bradley Manning leaked secret military information to an organization called WikiLeaks and is currently being tried for this transgression. Another man named Edward Snowden recently admitted to releasing secret government information about U.S. intelligence agency techniques used to monitor telephone conversations. He has fled to Hong Kong. Both of these issues are extremely complex and I’m not going to debate the right and wrong of them here today. What I do want to discuss is the decision that both men had to make. A decision that many people have had to make throughout history and, as I mentioned, that the protagonist of my next novel will have to make.

I don’t doubt for a moment that both Manning and Snowden believed they were doing the right thing. I don’t think either man meant to hurt the United States and both  likely suffered tremendous mental anxiety before they decided to release their respective pieces of information. There is also no doubt that both men did compromise U.S. interests by revealing these secret. A fellow named Benedict Arnold faced a similar question in his time.

Let’s put ourselves in their situation for a moment. We love our country. We have information that causes us to doubt the path our leaders are taking us on. We make some sort of attempt to rectify the situation through accepted channels but our effort is rebuffed. What should we do? This decision defines us as either a traitor or a patriot. We want to do what’s right, to make our nation stronger. Perhaps we are naive, perhaps we are stupid, but our intentions are good. Do we expose what we consider to be dangerous activity by our government or do we keep the secret? Our parents taught us to do what’s right, not to be a mindless worker drone content to simply follow orders. There are plenty of those out there and that kind of person doesn’t build a nation. Men and women of courage, who stand up for what is right are the kind of people who make a nation strong.

One only has to read the commentary on Manning’s case to see the vitriol his decision has engendered. People want to hang him. People want to pin medals on his chest. I’m certain Snowden will likewise face such scrutiny. Their lives are forever changed because they had the courage to stand up for what they thought was right. Standing up for what is right is not the safe way to journey through life. You can suffer for doing it. It takes courage and leads to change. Whether that change is for the better or not is unclear.

My goal today isn’t to exonerate or eviscerate either Manning or Snowden, but simply to point out that their actions cannot easily be classified as right or wrong. As much as we’d like to sound bite judge I think a more careful examination is in order. History will eventually give them their place in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not proclaiming them heroes. There are plenty of examples of people of courage standing up for what they think is right when it was completely wrong. There are many examples of murderous villains who stood up for their misguided principles. Lynch mobs, Islamic bombers, men who open fire on politicians, they all thought they were doing right, they weren’t.

I’m not sure where Manning and Snowden will eventually find themselves in the public eye. The fine line between Patriot and Traitor is worth examining because it can apply to even our lives. At work, at home, when is it best to stay quiet, when does our conscience insist we speak up?

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (300+ pages of adventure for $2.99)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt (General Yumanar must decide between supporting the corrupt politicians or overthrowing them)