Since it’s the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, here’s a slightly dated outrage. On September 4, TV critic Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times tackled a CNN documentary called “The Flag,” which focused on an American flag that three firefighters raised at Ground Zero late on the afternoon of the attacks. A photo taken for the New Jersey newspaper The [Bergen] Record “became a heartening, patriotic symbol for many on an otherwise awful day, and so did the flag itself.”
But the flag disappeared, and that story spurred the CNN program. Genzlinger ruined the review by dragging out the old leftist saw that flag-waving and “intolerance” are closely related:
The photographer rebelled at efforts to make him a celebrity, and so did the three firefighters. A plan to turn the photograph into a sculpture became a source of controversy. Nationwide, flag-waving was sometimes a cousin to intolerance.
This is the same critic who complained about the PBS series on the Constitution that put liberal NPR game-show host Peter Sagal on a motorcycle ride across America – that was an ecological offense: “
And when did Mr. Sagal’s vehicle of choice, a motorcycle, morph into a symbol of freedom, when anyone who has ever been awakened by one late at night wishes the Bill of Rights had something in it about freedom from noise pollution?
Anyway, what’s irksome about the format is that it has become so common that it just feels like an excuse for the host to do some traveling in a way that unnecessarily burns fossil fuel. If you’re making a travel show, sure, get in or on some eye-catching vehicle and drive across America. If you’re making a show about current constitutional debates, just read a newspaper. If you need to go someplace where such a debate has occurred, take public transportation.
You might call that transporation intolerance.