Certainly something we're not used to, is it? I'd say it's throwing our formerly ironic, cynical, Generation Y selves for a loop.
We're not used to this. As a generation, we have little experience with this type of patriotism, and we are definitely not used to bipartisanship.
We grew up in the era of the filibuster and the ironic sitcom. We were rocked in the arms of the prosperous, disillusioned youth culture. We've grown up with a media skeptical of our leaders, and in turn we've adopted that skepticism as our own. As a liberal bunch, we look at politics with raised eyebrows and dubious expressions.
We were world-weary before genuinely experiencing the world for ourselves. Patriotism seemed dated, kitschy -- the stuff of a Norman Rockwell painting. Didn't seem like we could really relate to it.
Who needed a love of God and country when there were 24-hour "Road Rules" marathons to be watched?
We've left our "Reality Bites" mentalities and become 21st century Nathan Hales, donating blood, starting fund drives, polling at 90 percent presidential approval ratings and regretting that we have but one life to give for our country.
And I think it's good.
It's rare that the slang-talking antics of an MTV VJ caused us to look at the horizon and whisper, with tears in our eyes and our voices quivering with patriotic passion, "I love my country."
We've had a proud tradition of apathy. And if not apathy, then by God, a healthy dose of flippant liberalism.
But these days we love our country and our president.
This new patriotic fervor isn't quite the same for all, though. There are the underreported peace movements that have been met with hostility by those who consider any criticism of the United States to be un-American. In those cases, opponents have tap-danced on the boundary line between expressing their opinions and suppressing other people's free speech.
Conversely, there are those like my friend Adrienne, who proudly proclaims she "loved the United States before loving the United States was cool." But now many have Betsy Rosses in their dorm rooms. We are making makeshift flags from construction paper or printing them out for display. I've gone from not knowing the words or tune to "God Bless America" to hearing it almost daily.
Patriotism and bipartisanship are some of the few blessings that have come out of this whole tragedy.
And I think this is a very interesting position for young liberals. Accustomed to the knee-jerk reaction to disapprove of Bush policy and rhetoric, we now face the brand new landscape of solidarity, or least some degree of approval.
Now, I'm the bleeding heart of bleeding hearts. My ventricles are positively engorged with left-wing compassion. My right and left atriums pump blood to the rhythm of "No tax cuts for the rich." I am one of those UNC students that David Horowitz loves to hate. I proudly carry the banner of left-wing politics.
I have seriously disapproved of Bush's actions in the past. Today, though, to be stubbornly anti-administration seems, if not petty, then a bit detrimental to the greater good.
I can disapprove of his stance on environmental global warming treaties and international politics. I can disapprove of his domestic fiscal policy and attorney general appointments. I can even be disturbed by the blood lust that seems to be driving the war campaign. But I can't muster up the same negativity about our president.
Even our Young Democrats president said he would agree that Bush has handled the situation well thus far. Before Sept. 11, he absolutely disapproved of Bush. There are a lot of folks who would concur.
All and all, national unity is a good thing.
We're all Abe Lincoln fans -- it was he who said "a house divided against itself cannot stand." The attacks occurred during a time when the United States was wracked with partisan political maneuvering. Now, that has fallen by the wayside.
There is a danger in viewing anything anti-administration as being anti-American. We certainly don't need to follow blindly, caught up in righteous fervor. It's that sort of attitude that leads to the relaxation of civil liberties and has the potential to become a divisive force.
Right now, however, bipartisanship and patriotism aren't bad things at all.
Erin Fornoff is a sophomore from the lovely town of Asheville. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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