So some guy at an Obama rally grinds everything to a halt by DEMANDING that the Pledge of Allegiance be observed. Watch the two-minute video, but especially note the vein-popping interview/rant afterward:
This kind of stuff, ultimately, is why I'll always live as far as possible (figuratively, more than geographically) from the Real America. Half-deranged insistence on ritualistic displays of loyalty is the stuff of unconfident Americans and small-minded authoritarians, though I'm less tetchy than I used to be about reciting the pledge before civic meetings or singing "God Bless America" at the ballgame. (In elementary school, I would deliberately mangle the Pledge; upon my 18th birthday, I refused to register for the draft; and when I worked for the University of California I tried like hell to get out of the mandatory swearing-I'd-defend-the-state-constitution thing, though I don't remember if I was successful.)
Whatever; like David Brooks, I'm not running for office. But it's morbidly fascinating to me that people can get all purple in the face for a half an hour talking about Barack Obama's decision (since rescinded) to not wear a flag pin sometimes. Sure, there's the idea that anyone running for president of these United States should be expected to pay constant homage to our dorky and purely symbolic civic traditions. It's a persuasive argument, just one that reminds me that my sense of civic mores will probably always be in the distinct minority.
UPDATE: Maybe the Pledge-heckler was less Real America than I thought ? he's reportedly a Bloomberg photographer.
UPDATE 2: Reference to one of my family members was removed.