Today I'm sitting here typing and listening to the radio, and wondering why it is that conservative talk radio, whatever its acknowledged flaws, always gets a pass on patriotism. NPR, as we know, is the refuge of liberals and arugula lovers, America haters and liberal traitors. Talk radio is where salt-of-the-earth, old-fashioned, real Americans go for enlightenment.
But this holiday is just like all of the others with a patriotic bent. All weekend long, NPR has been cranking out hours of quality programming on Memorial Day themes. There has been show after show of music appropriate to the day, from folk songs to marches to classical music. The news today had a superb interview with the author of a book about the little-known troubles that World War II veterans had readjusting to civilian life. "To the Point" interviewed an inventor of devices to help wounded soldiers back on their feet. There was even a piece about "Lili Marleen," the lovely soldiers' song that was a hit on both sides during World War II, despite its German origins.
KBLG, meanwhile, was replaying a Fred Thompson broadcast first heard when Obama released the torture memos. Caller after outraged caller accused Obama of treason and called for his impeachment and prosecution. I didn't flip over to Limbaugh, but apparently he had on similar fare. In conservative radio land, no holiday is important enough to set aside the vital work of impugning the loyalty and integrity of Democrats.
I don't really mind conservative talk fans pursuing their blind agenda 24-7-365. That's their business. And I don't really mind their claiming to be better Americans than I am. God knows better. But it sticks in my craw that they can make both claims simultaneously on a day set aside to remember those who died to help keep all Americans together.
They ought to feel at least a smidgen of shame.
SIDEBAR: I was nowhere near World War II but nevertheless learned to love "Lili Marleen" in the Army, too, while I was in German language school. The melody is gorgeous, and I especially like this verse, which doesn't really come through in the English versions I know of (you need to know that the song is about a soldier dreaming of once again standing under the lamp post at the barracks gate, hugging his girl):
Deine Schritte kennt sie,
Deinen zieren Gang
Alle Abend brennt sie,
Doch mich vergaß sie lang
Und sollte mir ein Leids gescheh'n
Wer wird bei der Laterne stehen
Mit dir Lili Marleen?
The lamp post knows your steps,
Your graceful walk.
Every evening it shines,
But forgot me long ago.
And should something happen to me,
Who will stand under the lamp post with you,
With you, Lili Marleen?
Well, it doesn't really come through in my English version either. Trust me.