Freedom in flight


Jacquielynn Floyd: As we celebrate our country’s birthday, it’s wise to remember the difference between patriotism and nationalism.

We are flying the Stars and Stripes for the Fourth of July.

Word of honor: This decision was made before a generous neighbor promised to deliver a ripe watermelon to every house on the street with a flag out by 10 a.m.

Melon notwithstanding, this is a voluntary, if modest, display of patriotism. We’re patriots at our house.

This is not the same thing as being nationalists. There seems to be lingering confusion over the difference.

Right-leaning websites this week energetically promoted a story about former President Barack Obama’s recent speech in the Indonesian city of Jakarta, where he spent part of his childhood.

The headline was this: “Obama warns about too much patriotism on 4th of July weekend (!).”

Eagerly consumed and disseminated by people who would believe pretty much anything about the ex-POTUS, including devil worship and being mean to dogs, this headline darkly suggested that he bad-mouthed America just as we prepare to celebrate its independence.

He did no such thing. In actuality, Obama warned about the rise of “an aggressive kind of nationalism” in nations (which he did not specify) around the world.

He linked such nationalism to “increased resentment about minority groups and the bad treatment of people who don’t look like us or practice the same faith as us.”

Standing up to such things, warning against them, is about as patriotic as you can get. It’s an affirmation of American values, those mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

Civics class reminder: The foundational document we mutually celebrate on Tuesday has much to say about equality, natural rights, and the key role of government in turning those ideals into everyday reality.

I did not just look this up. As a kid, I was required to memorize the preamble to the D of I and can to this day recite more or less verbatim the section that runs from “We hold these truths” to “for their future security.” It’s only a few paragraphs, but it covers a lot of turf.

Nowhere does it talk about which citizens are the noblest ones, or about which ones God likes the most, or about pulling up the drawbridges to keep the foreign hordes away. It does not specify an “American” race or religion, or suggest that the newly independent nation is better than all the others.

Even the most Obamaphobic headline writers ought to know this. Patriotism and nationalism, as they have been generally defined, are far from being the same thing.

Plenty of writers and philosophers have reflected on this topic, but the best, most succinct explanation I have seen was a 2014 letter to the editor published in The WashingtonPost.

It was written by Ronald Tiersky, a political scientist and foreign policy expert at Amherst College.

“Pride in one’s nation-state, and a willingness to defend it if necessary, is the basis of national independence,” he wrote. “Patriotism is the courage of national self-determination.

“By contrast, nationalism is patriotism transformed into a sentiment of superiority and aggression toward other countries. Nationalism is the poisonous idea that one’s country is superior to somebody else’s.”

Not understanding that basic difference endangers us. It makes us hostile and suspicious. It makes us not just proud of putting out our own flag, but mistrusting of the neighbor who didn’t get around to it, or paranoid about places where they put up a different flag.

It also makes us greedy and insular, hypocrites who want to hog liberty and constitutional safeguards for our own selves while denying them to people we don’t know or like.

Patriotism espouses pride: pride in the ideals and aspirations on which this nation was founded.

We have not, and still do not always come up to the mark. But we at least remain connected to the foundational and aspirational principles of equality and freedom — and the notion that being “American” does not mean a common language or religion or political preference.

Like a lot of people, I am not always proud of what this country does. I am frankly embarrassed by its current president; I’m dismayed my some of the policies being pursued by the incumbent leadership.

If you ask me, this is not, history-wise, our best moment.

You may not agree. Goons will not shoot you, or drag you off in the middle of the night, or deport you if you don’t. The flag represents that guarantee.

And that’s the real reason we’re flying the flag at our house Tuesday. The watermelon is just a sweet bonus.

Twitter: @jfloyd_dmn

Holiday travelers share their definitions of patriotism in a divided country.

Even a divided country can come together to celebrate its birthday. Can’t it?

Are people still taking pride in a country rippling with waves of anger and resistance, riven by resentments and bitterly divided over issues like health care and immigration? Can patriotism encompass both supporting the president and marching against him? People at roadside restaurants, outlet stores and rest stops in Colorado, Georgia and New Hampshire shared their thoughts on the topic.

‘We can be kind’ 
Jensen Sutta, 39; his wife, Kiha, 36; and their two young boys were on their way to a weekend of camping and fishing in central Colorado’s mountains.

“Patriotism to me means appreciating the military, means appreciating our freedom and appreciating the fact that anyone really is free to express what they want to express.

… Being with our kids on this weekend, it does give the opportunity to remind them that they can’t control who’s elected or can’t control many things, but what they can control is that they’re kind and they’re thankful. We can be kind, no matter what.”

‘We need to respect the position’ 
Doug Windemuller, 73, a mostly retired financial planner in Pine, Colo., is spending the weekend close to home.

How was he planning to celebrate? “Display the flag, honor it.

Believe in country, God. I’m a patriot. Loyal to the government and the president. We need to respect the position, and right now that’s not happening in this country.”

‘Not thinking they’re bad’ for disagreeing 
Steph Jester, 35, a clinical social worker from Thornton, Colo., was getting ready for a rugged weekend of camping with her sister and nieces.

Her husband, a National Guardsman, is deployed in the Middle East, so she said the family was celebrating “just being together and the freedom we’ve got.”

Her view of patriotism: “It means respecting each other’s rights to have different opinions. And not thinking they’re bad.”

‘We’re still free to choose’ 
Karene-Sean Hines, who teaches middle school English to English-language learners and students with learning disabilities, was heading to Barnstead, N.H., to “eat lots of seafood.”

What is she celebrating most? “Freedom. We are a country where we’re still free to choose and to be. It’s so wonderful. … Patriotism really means focusing on what is positive about this country.

Our loyalty to our flag, and what it stands for. Our diversity, which is our greatest strength. When you say, ‘Who’s America?’ we are all Americans. We’re a country of immigrants.”

‘Maybe it can bring a sense of unity’ 
Sterlin Jenkins, 34, a mover from Lawrenceville, Ga., planned to eat barbecue and lie low.

“I would say the holiday is more important this year.

Maybe it can bring a sense of unity after all of the police brutality and politics and elections. We can just sit back and be one. But we’ll probably wake up on July 5th and get back to the same thing.”

‘Celebrating hope for the future’ 
Sveta Bartsch, 40, a paralegal, and her husband, David, 54, a landscape architect, were making the trek from Cambridge, Mass., to drop off their daughter at camp in Canada.

David: “We’re celebrating hope for the future of the country, hope for change.

We’ve got to get people into office who actually take responsibility for their jobs.”

Sveta: “I adopted America as my country. I feel proud to be able to live here. There are so many more opportunities here than anywhere else.”

‘The Fourth isn’t the same’ 
Arturo Guerrero, 22, a heating and cooling service technician from Gainesville, Ga., was going to visit family in Texas, watch fireworks and have a cookout.

“The country’s more divided than usual, and the Fourth isn’t the same. …It’s just so divided, and you can’t hang out with your neighbors and have a cookout together. That’s my ideal.”

‘I take it very personally’ 
Eduardo Lopez, 25, of Watkinsville, Ga., said the Fourth is one of the few days when the Mexican restaurant he co-owns is closed.

“It’s the most important day for us. It means to be free. I’ve been in America for a long time, but I take it very personally.”

‘Realizing how good we have it’ 
Jonny Aquino, 30, from Boston, and his stepfather, George Bethoney, 52, of Medfield, Mass., were riding their motorcycles to Maine to enjoy a break from their carpentry jobs.

What does patriotism mean to them? George: “Honoring our country, honoring our freedom.

Supporting our president and realizing how good we have it.”

Jonny: “You can call that the American dream.”

The New York Times

ARTS & LIFE An exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art tells the story of America, in prints.

It’s not often that you run across an art exhibition featuring works by Paul Revere and John James Audubon, mixed in with Andy Warhol and the Guerrilla Girls.

But you can find exactly that at the Dallas Museum of Art, where “Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art” runs through Sept. 3.

The key word here is prints.

As The Washington Post opined: “Prints are designed to circulate and reach wide audiences; they are to painting and sculpture what the Internet is to the book or printed newspaper.

They are capable of being a fundamentally disruptive medium.”

“Visions of America” showcases more than 150 prints and more than 100 artists, whose work is available for viewing during the July 4 holiday before closing the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. It’s the first major museum survey of American prints in more than 30 years.

In the words of DMA Director Agustín Arteaga, the exhibition “tells the story of America from both internal and external views. From Colonial times to the modern age, the exhibition takes a fresh look at the major movements in American art with a truthful approach.”

Organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the show, according to its versatility-minded curators, is “an unapologetic survey of the events that shaped the modern United States.” It allows those who come to see it to see America through the eyes of European outsiders, young settlers, feminists and “boundary breakers.”

Its content includes an engraving of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere as well as a “broadside” from more than two centuries later by the Guerrilla Girls.

The Guerrilla Girls is a feminist art group that, according to The Washington Post, “addresses sexism and racism in the art world.” In its review, The Post noted: “The poster is a classic Guerrilla Girls provocation, showing a nude woman from behind, lounging on a sofa, with an oversize gorilla head. It asks: ‘Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. 

Museum?’ ”

Sue Canterbury, the DMA’s associate curator of American art, weighs in by saying: “The dichotomy between prints intended to provoke change and ones more weighted to visual concerns is no mistake.

It is an undercurrent of both the exhibition and the history of American prints.”

That description covers what may be the most historically riveting piece in the show.

Paul Revere’s 1770 engraving is Bloody Massacre, which depicts an incident in which British troops fired into a mob of Colonial protesters, killing five and wounding six others.

The range of artists in “Visions of America” is truly all over the map. They include James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, George Bellows, John Marin, Jackson Pollock, Louise Nevelson, Romare Bearden, Robert Rauschenberg, Chuck Close, Jenny Holzer and Kara Walker.

The work of Pollock, Rauschenberg and Close is also part of the new Polaroid exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, and Holzer’s clever mojo has been featured in the Dallas Cowboys Art Collection at AT&T Stadium.

Twitter: @mgranberry

Plan your life

“Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art,” through Sept. 3 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St.,

Leslie Barker: Let’s be grateful for freedoms, big and small.

Every so often, I touch a flag in a neighbor’s lawn during a morning run, and I think about freedom.

Not so much in the realm of the right to vote or where to go to church — though those are infinitely important — but more in the basic, everyday freedom to live, to breathe, to choose, to do.

This way or that? Chocolate or vanilla? Chili or cheese? The beach or the mountains? Brooks shoes or Nike? A walk or a swim? Fast or slow? Alone or together? Up hills or down? Show up or stay home? Life is a series of choices, and here we are, stripes on one side and stars on the other, giddily picking one or reaching for both. We can do that because we are Americans, by golly, and because we can.

I may step into my running shoes and then out again and into another pair — because I have two, because I wore the first pair yesterday, and because that is my choice. I may find freedom skipping yoga or freedom on the mat to take a child’s pose when everyone else is attempting crow.

While the Founding Fathers probably didn’t have yoga in mind when they drafted the Constitution, what they wrote back then set into motion our freedom of choice today.

These aren’t just freedoms of the tangible — shoes, workouts, hot dog toppings. They’re also, more by happenstance than by law, freedom of the spirit, of the mind, of the soul.

This struck me at the gym a couple of weeks ago.

It was Friday morning, a day when I make sure my pool lane of choice is as far as possible from the locker room. That’s because a half hour or so before the water aerobics class begins, the women who participate start gathering in the first lane.

They chat, they warm up, and, as their numbers increase, spread out to the second lane and sometimes the third. When I’m in the fourth lane, I feel kind of safe. Not that they put any pressure on me to wrap up my workout, let me add; putting pressure on myself is something I do quite well with no assistance whatsoever.

That day, another swimmer was in Lane 4, but Lane 3 was empty. That’s where I jumped into the water and where I adjusted my goggles, started my watch and took off. My swim turned out to be rather good: I used my kickboard as part of my laps rotation, found my rhythm pretty early on and finished probably five minutes before the class was to start and before anyone began drifting into my lane.

Afterward, I’d barely stepped out of the shower when I saw the woman who had been zipping along quite nicely in Lane 4. She looked like she had something to say, and was waiting for me to listen to it.

Before I could offer my own “Wow! The water felt great, didn’t it?!” observance, she said — and I hope my ears were filled with water to hear correctly — something that sounded like this: “Those women are so annoying.”

That totally took me aback; what was I supposed to say? Opting for nothing, I also opted for a half-hearted half smile and went to the dressing room, fingers crossed her gym bag wouldn’t be on the bench by my locker.

Were I to share this exchange with my dear son Charlie, he would no doubt say: “Oh, Mom, she was probably having a bad day.”

Which I can totally appreciate, and which may very well have been true. How can we ever know what someone else is going through? To be honest, my preswim morning hadn’t exactly oozed delight. Now, barely two weeks later, I have no recollection of why, which is probably a good thing. What I try to remember (and with varying levels of success) is that sometimes you have to just put all that poor-me nonsense aside and to feel — here’s that word again — freedom: To be kind, to move, to discover. To believe that, for even moments at a time, the world is yours, and nothing can stop you.

What a gift, the freedom to feel that way. And, though not as fun or as affirming, the freedom to forget every intention we set.

We’re all just works in progress, really — nudgeneeding neophytes whose mouths often utter that which makes our hearts cringe.

So maybe for right this second, it would serve us all to breathe in, to breathe out.

And to remember that for every cough-out complaint, there are dozens (or hundreds) of reasons to whisper a thank you instead.

What better time to be reminded than on this sultry, steamy night of fierce independence and lifeaffirming freedom? When the sky is lit with stars and with fireflies and fireworks — breathtaking bursts of red, silver and blue that catch in our throats like an unexpected sob? And if by chance we’re handed a sparkler, lit from the punk that has all but gone out, what else can we do but wave it in the still nighttime air, spelling out the word that brought us here and will carry us home: Freedom.

Twitter: @ohlesliebarker

Today is Independence Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Americans fly their flags on the Fourth of July to commemorate the birth of the nation.