Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

I carried two flags today

November 11, 2009

On my lapel, actually. One was the standard U.S. flag lapel pin, and the other a large, round, glossy button with a Rainbow Flag motif. I marched in Walla Walla’s Veteran’s Day Parade today, with the Walla Walla chapter of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG.

Walla Walla is not an especially friendly place for LGBT people. Referendum 71, Washington’s “everything but marriage law,” received about 6,000 votes for and 9,000 votes against here. For that reason, it was with some trepidation that I marched holding one side of the Walla Walla PFLAG banner.

Some, but not much. I firmly believe that equal rights for LGBT people is one of the great civil rights causes of our time, and I was prepared to face any kind of opposition in standing up for it. I held one corner of the banner in one hand, and a smaller sign reading “Don’t ask, who cares?” in the other. I smiled and waved good morning at everyone we passed on the way, whether the answer was a stony-faced silence or a warm-hearted wave in return.

When our group was announced at the center of the parade, a small but vocal smattering of spectators raised raucous applause. Certainly many of them, if not all, were a part of the 6000 I mentioned earlier. For this reason, the smile I wore through the march lasted long after, even as my rain-soaked clothes continued to dry.

I carried two flags today, representing two entities in which I believe absolutely. One is participatory democracy, in which any group of people, if their cause is just and their will resolute, can bring about change. The other is equal rights for all, and no rights withheld from any minority provided they do not clash with the rights of others. Both causes were represented in force today on Walla Walla’s Main Street. May that ever be so.

Harold and Kumar score one more for the US of A

August 24, 2008

I finally managed to see the new Harold and Kumar movie last week, and now that I’ve finished moving into my new apartment, I finally have the time to write a few things about it. I won’t attempt a review; the film is as endearingly wacky as its predecessor, if not as tightly plotted, but the reader has at her disposal any number of resources to learn more.

No, what I’d rather write is what I took to be the central message of the film, and why I found it so bad-ass wicked awesome. And also sweet.

Near the end of the movie, a pot-addled interpretation of a certain political leader (I won’t spoil it for the unitiated, except to say his name rhymes with “tush”) tells our heroes, “You don’t have to trust your government to be a good American. You just have to trust your country.” That may sound incredible coming at the end of a story about two young men wrongly interred at Guantanamo Bay, but it falls squarely at the heart of the matter, both in the movie and in the real world.

The basic outlilne of the government of the United States is enshrined in the Constitution. In a very real sense, the Constitution is the United States, because therein are laid out the principles upon which the nation is built: rule by the people, equal protection under the law, freedom of expression, et cetera. When the character mentioned above calls on us not to trust our government, he is reminding us that the tenets of governance prescribed in the Constitution are not perfect, and that they are not set in stone. When he tells us, however, that we are to trust our country, he is calling us to place our faith in the principles upon which the government must ideally rest, central among which is the ability to amend and improve them.

In the midst of the diarrhea jokes and pot binges, the Harold and Kumar movies are at heart a love letter to the United States of America. In spite of all the adversity, both realistic and absurd, that our heroes face, they never fail to stand up for their right to pursue their dreams. In the US, it is true in principle that anyone, whether their ancestors be European, African, Korean, Indian, or Neil Patrick Harris, can achieve their aims. It’s on all of us to create a nation where this is true in fact as well.