'The View' on The Pledge: Being Totally Patriotic Means Not Being Patriotic?

You wonder just how much is too much of "The View" on ABC. Justin McCarthy not only captured the Hugo Chavez part of yesterday's discussion, but transcribed a discussion of a topic Elisabeth Hasselbeck was allowed to bring up, teaching love of country to your children. She talked about teaching her daughter the Pledge of Allegiance, but allegiance wasn't Topic A.

Predictably, Joy Behar and Rosie O'Donnell quickly equated patriotism with protest. Rosie said: "I grew up watching sit-ins on television. I grew up feeling that if you were a real patriotic person you would protest and stand in the streets and yell and scream until the government which really works for you represents you." Behar oddly claimed that "to be totally patriotic is almost not being patriotic in a way." From there, Rosie complained the weekend's "peace" protests were "hardly even covered on the news," and Joy complained that nobody's asked Americans to sacrifice with gas rationing. When Hasselbeck discussed having soldiers on the show, Rosie recommended focusing on a New York Times story on a soldier who hung himself.

The story is apparently a Bob Herbert column, as the Huffington Post suggested.

Many people confuse patriotism ("love for or devotion to one's country," reads Webster's) with speaking out in dissent. Protest is inherently democratic -- a demonstration of our freedom to speak out -- but it's not inherently patriotic. To call the United States a cancer on the planet would be democratic, but certainly not patriotic. You can love your country and oppose military engagements. But many in the anti-war movement (especially protest organizers like the ANSWER Coalition) are explicitly anti-American in their arguments. Justin's transcript of this part of the discussion is below:

HASSELBECK: There was a book written it's called "How to Raise an American" and there was an article about it in the paper this weekend. And I found it interesting because I feel – and I agree the notion is that there is, there’s a patriotic gap. You know, that we're not teaching our kids just because, you know, there's so much out there against the president, against the war, are we really teaching our kids to be proud Americans? You know, and I've been trying to teach Grace the pledge of allegiance. Like we’ll do the ABC’s and then the pledge of allegiance. And I think that's important to do even at a very young age. And so I kind of thought this book was right on that, you know, how are we teaching kids? Because, number one they’re getting a lot of their information from the internet and there's a ton out there, I mean because that's what people are feeling. They’re feeling very negative sometimes about this country. I just wonder what, what kind of children are going to be brought up and how, how much will they love this country?

BEHAR: Well, one of the hallmarks of true patriotism is to question authority. And I think that a lot of kids these days are questioning. They’re not necessarily less patriotic. Although, you know, borders are blurring. There's no, there’s no black and white in the world any more, you know.

HASSELBECK: No, there’s not.

BEHAR: So to be totally patriotic is almost not being patriotic in a way.

HASSELBECK: Can't you see patriotism as being able to be free and see, see our Constitution and Declaration of Independence as the vehicles for which we have to speak about what we want?

BEHAR: That's why young people who question the way the administration is administering the Constitution are being very patriotic, because they’re being patriotic and, and faithful to the Constitution. [Applause]

WALTERS: Don't you think that, basically, that no matter how much you criticize or if you criticize the president now and some do and you don't, but don't you think --

HASSELBECK: I've criticized some things that he's done.

WALTERS: Don't you think there's just a basic love for this country?

HASSELBECK: I hope so.

WALTERS: I can't imagine that there are too many people who live here that would want to live somewhere else. And I mean whether it's learning how to pledge the allegiance to the flag, I think that, that no matter what it is, at least for me and for most of the people I know, we are so glad to be Americans, don't you think that's true? [Applause]

HASSELBECK: Of course. Absolutely. I think it's different now. Don't you remember being -- I remember being in school and whenever the president was on TV talking everything stopped and everyone would listen. You know? So I think how people view the president --

O’DONNELL: Who was the president then?

HASSELBECK: Reagan.

O’DONNELL: Reagan.

HASSELBECK: I remember, you know, how you see the president is essentially how a child sees -- that's the face of the country for many children.

O’DONNELL: Right and I grew up watching sit-ins on television. I grew up feeling that if you were a real patriotic person you would protest and stand in the streets and yell and scream until the government which really works for you represents you, you know, did what the mass of the people wanted and so I grew up believing that the most patriotic thing you could ever do was to question.

BEHAR: There's an article --

HASSELBECK: I think you should question, without a doubt, but I think you can do it also with the fever and fire for your own country.

BEHAR: But there's an argument right now that if you question this war for instance you’re going against the troops.

WALTERS: That’s changed though. That’s changed.

BEHAR: But the fact of the matter is that the troops understand the democratic process and they understand that there will be dissent and discussion in the country.

WALTERS: We have right now dissent in the Congress. I mean, you can't see it more clearly than those who feel we should bring the troops home or some like-- well, you saw it, someone like John McCain who feels that, that you need more troops. It was a very interesting article in the paper this week that showed the difference between Senator Chuck Hagel and Senator John McCain. Both of whom were in Vietnam and both of whom came out with different feelings. Hagel, who said he was a grunt, you know, on the lower level of the armed services, is that what it's called? I don’t mean to be insulting. And he feels that we’ve got to bring the troops home and the Vietnam, that was, that was his lesson. And McCain who was in a prison camp for five and a half years feels that the worst thing is to have an army in defeat and we have to have this surge. And, you know, we are now hearing dissent on both sides. We weren't up until really --

O’DONNELL: But you know what's very interesting is March 17th, which was this Saturday, there were protests all over the country and it was hardly even covered on the news. There were protests in every major city against the war for this anniversary that's coming up.

BEHAR: They’re busy with this Gonzales scandal right now that's why.

O’DONNELL: They’re very busy.

HASSELBECK: But I also, I also think there are troops too, I mean we have a friend, we were on the phone with his brother this weekend, who has been to Iraq this is his third tour there. And he’s there and he says, you know, that he wishes that people could really hear the stories that are actually happening, you know, that they are there, and that the Iraqi people do look at them like they are helping them.

WALTERS: Some. We also don't hear the stories of some of the misery.

BEHAR: A lot of the Iraqi soldiers are not showing up according to what I'm reading. They’re not even showing up.

HASSELBECK: What do you mean, they’re not showing up?

BEHAR: They’re not showing up for duty.

HASSELBECK: I think that’s, I think hat's almost irresponsible to say that a lot of them are not showing up.

BEHAR: That’s what I read. I read it in the paper. Whether it's true or not is another story.

HASSELBECK: I would like to investigate the that because I know that, I know- speaking from a friend who’s, who has been there, I mean they show up. I mean, they’re fighting an enemy, an enemy that-

WALTERS: Well, we keep waiting for the Iraqis to take over so we can leave. We're waiting for the security forces to be strong enough so we can leave. We’re waiting for the sec – we hear it again and again. So far it hasn't happened.

HASSELBECK: Right. They need to. They need to step it up, and, you know--

O’DONNELL: But what does your friend feel about his third tour? I mean, does he feel that that’s justified or fair? I mean, you know, you're not really allowed to speak out against the government or military if you are a serving member of it. But, you know, on the whole these people who are being asked to go back and back again these families it's a lot to ask.

BEHAR: America is not at war. These guys are at war. These girls and boys are at war. The country is not. We have not done anything to indicate that we are at war.

HASSELBECK: What do you mean by that?

WALTERS: We are not sacrificing.

BEHAR: Gas consumption, coupons, you know, stuff like that, volunteering, all that stuff. No one has asked us to do anything. So how can we even say that we are at war? These kids are at war.

HASSELBECK: Well, I think you ask anyone who knows someone there and you definitely feel as though you were at war--

WALTERS: It is, it is since we don't have a draft if you do have someone there, when you see these young people coming back, your hearts go out to them. But, again, most of us are not touched in a personal way. And that’s what Joy has said. You know, we can feel for them and we ache for them.

HASSELBECK: Maybe we need to hear more of their stories.

O’DONNELL: There's a great one in the “Times” today. In the “Times” today, there was a story of a young man who went over there, he came back and he had post traumatic stress and he went to get help and there wasn't enough help and he hung himself in the basement. And the mother and father are talking and the “New York Times” and they want to talk about the effect that this war has had on the returning soldiers. I would love to have that family as a guest.

WALTERS: Bob Woodruff was on with us last week with his wife. And he not only talked about his own experience, because it was so unfortunate that he was wounded as deeply as he was, but fortunate that he’s recovered. He had a lot of care. He talked about the neglect and the fact that we are just beginning to hear those stories.

O’DONNELL: Maybe we can have some of them on. I think it would be very eye opening.

HASSELBECK: We’ve never been in a war like this because of IED’s.

BEHAR: Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. So, we should probably deal with it.

O’DONNELL: And just two weeks after that was, two months after that was “mission accomplished.” Right?

BEHAR: Yeah.

O’DONNELL: Yeah. Four years ago, “mission accomplished.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis