THE BLOG
04/06/2006 10:48 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

I'm Not a Patriot, But I Play One on TV

Illegal immigration raises conflicting questions. Within political parties, even within individuals. But there's one thing we can all agree on, and Lou Dobbs stated it more eloquently than anyone possibly could, debating the president of La Raza:

"But let's be clear. I don't think there should be a St. Patrick's Day."

Wait, I'm sorry. That can't be right. I misread that when I typed it. Let me try again.

"But let's be clear. I don't think there should be a St. Patrick's Day."

Yipes, he did say it.

There it is, in full, on CNN, March 28, 2006.

"I don't think that we should have any flag flying in this country except the flag of the United States. And let me tell you something else, since we're talking about double standards and I think you're right about people who would believe that.

"But let's be clear. I don't think there should be a St. Patrick's Day. I don't care who you are. I think we ought to be celebrating what is common about this country, what we enjoy as similarities as people."

Oh, my God, it's even worse.

Being conflicted over illegal immigration is understandable. But this is just about one's heritage. Wait, not even heritage: tens of millions are simply pretending to be Irish for the pure fun of it, or the chance to get a free beer.

Lou Dobbs, generally a respectable albeit sometimes-excitable journalist, went from illegal immigration to this? Through what tortured path did that journey take a wrong turn into Hell?

To be fair, the concept of We Should Only Fly the U.S. Flag sounds incredibly patriotic - but it's not even fake-patriotic. Before anyone in a patriotic state of mind leaps to argue, those with Confederate flags should put them away first, because the visual wouldn't work for you.

Want to hold out a flag in warm, American friendship to any visitor from another country? Sorry, mutual kindness sends a bad signal to the rest of the world. Visitors can wave their own flag, of course; it's just not a right allowed to U.S. citizens.

(I think visitors can wave their flag. I'll have to check the manifesto. After all, Lou Dobbs did say, "I don't think that we should have any flag flying in this country except the flag of the United States." None does mean none.)

When your grandmother from the Old Country celebrates her birthday, take that miniature flag out of the cake. It would be so awkward having the flag police cart her off before she got all the candles blown out.

Let's be honest - forget how "Only the American Flag" sounds in convoluted theory, does any of this sound actually, remotely American? Patriotic?

And we haven't even got to cancelling St. Patrick's Day yet. (Remember that?)

Also, the Feast of San Gennaro. Hey, if St. Patrick's Day is off-limits, so is this. You can't sneak around the rulebook just because you cleverly spelled "saint" as "San."

Under Dobbs Law, no Americans may celebrate their culture. Sure, we were taught that America is a melting pot, that we're a nation of immigrants (legal-variety), that the Statue of Liberty asks to "Give us your tired, your poor," but all that was just to trick them (you, us) into coming here. Once we gotcha, turn in your birthright.

And Lou Dobbs means it. "I think we ought to be celebrating what is common about this country, what we enjoy as similarities as people."

That sounds great. All warm and fuzzy. It sounds so God bless America patriotic.

Except -

Irish-Americans? Be gone. Italian-Japanese-Polish-German-Americans? Snap, you don't exist. Black-Americans. No, you're not. Kiss those Franco-American SpaghettiO's goodbye. And Mexican-American? Ha! Don't even think about. We're all only Americans. Only. Only. You have no past, you can't celebrate it. Because we only ought to be celebrating what is common about this country.

The problem is, what is common about this country is that we all came from someplace else. Except Native American Indians, of course.

(Quick question: can Native American Indians fly flags of their tribe? There were here first. But none means none.)

Maybe the way around this dilemma is to follow the enlightened Guru Mister Rogers and his teachings to children. We each have uniqueness. Individuality is worth celebrating, too. Just be glad you're you. You Irish-Americans and Mexican Americans and the rest.

Here's the reality. Pledging allegiance and swearing loyalty to a single flag is one thing. We get it. It's good. Put it in the bank. Flapping a flag to show appreciation where your ancestors came from that made you possible, that's pretty clearly something else entirely.

As patriotic as it might sound at first blush that only the American flag can be waved anywhere on U.S. soil, and that no Americans should ever celebrate your families' heritage - it's, in fact, small-minded, ill-conceived, petty, arrogant, stupid, mean-spirited, thoughtless and contrary to everything America is about.

The lesson is simple: use punctuation correctly. Yes, Lou Dobbs said, "I don't think there should be a St. Patrick's Day." But all he had to do was add a period. "I don't think. There should be a St. Patrick's Day."