Friday, October 05, 2007

Did Obama Trip Over the Importance of Symbols or . . .?

Symbols have the power to unleash the unconscious – to act like a trigger - to evoke an emotional response on many levels. Those that well-understand the power of symbols may employ such power for good or for evil.

“Symbolism is no mere idle fancy or corrupt egerneration: it is inherent in the very texture of human life.” - Alfred North Whitehead, (1861-1947), British Mathematician and Philosopher

“There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum.” - Arthur C. Clarke, English Writer of science fiction

By now the world already knows that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has announced that he will refuse to wear the American Flag pin. The conspicuous absence of a symbol is in itself an even stronger symbol. But since nature abhors a symbolic vacuum, one wonders what symbol will emerge from the Obama campaign to replace the American flag?

Here’s what Obama said. H/T to Atlas Shrugs

"You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin," Obama said. "Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest. . ."

H/T also to Little Green Footballs . Here's Obama’s quote in continuation:

“ . . .I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest,“ he said in the interview. ”Instead, I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism."

Two weeks after 9/11 we took a road trip across the U.S. America was filled with patriotic feeling. Flags were flying on just about every other house that we passed. In Tennessee we found a little roadside gift shop and we purchased a magnetic American Flag for our car – about the size of a real estate sign. We immediately put it on the back of our car.

I said to my husband, “I’m afraid that soon these flags will start coming down, and eventually most will be gone.”

We agreed, however, that our flag would stay on our car until this war on terrorism is won. Fortunately, our magnetic American Flag still looks as good as the day we bought it and we won't take it down!!!

More quotes on the importance of symbolism:

"A symbol is indeed the only possible expression of some invisible essence, a transparent lamp about a spiritual flame; while allegory is one of many possible representations of an embodied thing, or familiar principle, and belongs to fancy and not to imagination: the one is a revelation, the other an amusement. "- William Butler Yeats (1865–1939), Irish poet, playwright.

Symbols have one characteristic in common with signs; they point beyond themselves to something else. The red sign at the street corner points to the order to stop the movements of cars at certain intervals. A red light and the stopping of cars have essentially no relation to each other, but conventionally they are united as long as the convention lasts. The same is true of letters and numbers and partly even words. They point beyond themselves to sounds and meanings. They are given this special function by convention within a nation or by international conventions, as mathematical signs. Sometimes such signs are called symbols; but this is unfortunate because it makes the distinction between signs and symbols more difficult. Decisive is the fact that signs do not participate in the reality of that to which they point, while symbols do. Therefore, signs can be replaced for reasons of expediency or convention, while symbols cannot.
Paul Tillich (1886–1965), German-born U.S. theologian.
. . .My quest to find an American flag brought me to Wal-mart, itself is a symbol of the American way of life, a place where people of all backgrounds converge. As I drove aimlessly across town, racking my brain for a store that I had overlooked, I thought hard about the power of symbols in our lives and their place in our classrooms. Symbols have the power to transcend race, class, nationality, or religion. In fact, modern culture has created a complete iconography to direct us through our lives. Whether we find faith in the cross, pride in the emblem on our sneakers, or food beneath the glow of the golden arches, symbols are our guideposts. They communicate information that nurtures and even helps us construct our identity. Living life without symbols would be like walking a tightrope without a safety net. Sure, it can be done, but the stress may not be worth it. I want to look down and be soothed by the knowledge that someone or something is there to catch me if I fall.
Take note in the passage below of how Hitler employed the use of symbols.
Carl Liungman's Dictionary of Symbols is covered in more detail in § 2, along with other dictionaries. However, beginning on page 64 he has an impressive chapter dealing with the history of the Nazi selection, design, and use of symbols in their rise to power. Additionally, he follows their continued development of such symbols and signs as the reverse swastika and the SS emblem. Going one step further, he deals briefly with the efforts of other political parties and nations to counter the use of the Nazi symbols. Through it all, there is portrayed the struggle, too often overlooked in modern histories of the era, for faith and defining the faith of the masses, a struggle in which Liungman portrays the Nazis as succeeding more completely than their belated competitors both in design and comprehension of the importance of the symbols and signs used to represent their movement. The author/editor provides an important view of a concrete example of the importance of both the symbols and the symbolism network in practice. Given the emphasis on the "packaging" of candidates for political office, Liungman's coverage of this aspect of Nazism is very informative and relevant to today.
It’s time to raise our American flag’s even higher!
That’s the best response to Obama.
Pajamas Media has a good roundup of yesterday’s blogs on Obama
Other Faultline USA reads:
Welcome back to Alamo Nation!!! George Berryman took off some time from blogging to go back to college, but now he’s discovered that he can blog as well as study. Drop him a welcome home to blogging comment.

Also Outside the Beltway, Adam's Blog, The Populist, Pirate's Cove, Webloggin, Leaning Straight Up, The Bullwinkle Blog, and Gone Hollywood, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.


  1. I have always been suspect of him. Now it seems, little by little, the true Obama is emerging. Hopefully, as he continues to show his real agenda, he will continue to self-destruct.

  2. Great post!!!

    I hadn't really consciously considered his heresy in terms of symbolism. It struck and strikes me as stupid, petty and I guess childish in a sense.

    He doesn't have to wear a lapel pin flag to prove his patriotism, but his reasoning is pathetic and "symbolic" of a wrong frame of mind as far as I'm concerned.

    What is wrong with wearing one? Who are those that he considers unpatriotic while wearing one? I don't want someone like this as president of my country; I have nothing but pride in our nation and the flag that represents it.

    His process of thought is Leftist and mistaken and as Roger said, "the true Obama is emerging."

  3. NorthGAConservativeFri Oct 05, 11:27:00 AM 2007

    This thought also occured, this is just another US vs THEM mentality. I wont wear a pin that is symbolic of the country I want to be president of? Because I dont agree with the current head of that state? Or some of its policies?

    I thought that is what did make us all American, the ability to disagree, still love our neighbor, and get ready for the next election.

    Obama is continues to drive that wedge between neighbors. One reason he trails in the polls, his message is NOT one of hope.

  4. Thanks all for your great comments.

    I don't for a moment believe that Obama is stupid. That leaves the key to my essay, "The conspicuous absence of a symbol is in itself an even stronger symbol. But since nature abhors a symbolic vacuum, one wonders what symbol will emerge from the Obama campaign to replace the American flag?"

  5. I think Barack HUSSEIN Obama has multiple reasons for this. (1) It got him in the news. (2) It got the attention of the anti-American voters and anti-war folks. (3) It got him the other vote (other meaning, Muslims) who want to replace the US flag with the Muslim flag (maybe the Mexicans too).

    I visited a site yesterday that already has the style flag they will use in 50 years, 60 years, when the US is Muslim/Islam run. Pathetic.

  6. Debbie:

    I think you ar right and if you find that flag link please pst it here.

  7. he should wear a star and crescent ..the lying hypocrite!