I wrote about the parade controversy for Politico today. One point is that most conservatives (I was among them) allowed themselves to indulge in a silly caricature of France in our irritation at the likes of Dominique de Villepin in the run-up to the Iraq War:
Trump was, understandably, impressed in a visit to France last July by the pageantry of the Bastille Day parade. Despite the disdain conservatives have long heaped on France as a country of pansies, it has a storied military tradition and a deep sense of national pride as one the world’s oldest nation-states, one that has always been at the center of Western civilization.
The Bastille Day parade dates back to the 1880s. Nothing that the U.S. comes up with will match its resonance or its beloved, unifying nature.
Another is that this flap goes to a fault-line in our politics that isn’t new, but that has greater prominence now:
The parade controversy is another sign that the place of patriotism in our national life, and what that patriotism should consist of, is a Trump-era flashpoint.
Trump’s critics tend to think that patriotism itself is atavistic, or that its locus should be only in our ideals. Trump’s patriotism is more grounded, and insists that we are a nation, not just an abstraction.
This is why a military parade once in a while is a healthy thing: We should be proud, not just of our troops, but of our military as such. We should be proud of our strength. We should be proud of our weaponry, highly proficient machines fashioned by the most technically adept society the world has ever known.
Finally, something I didn’t get to is how this is different than other controversies along these lines: Trump isn’t hitting any particular NFL players for their refusal to stand for the National Anthem. He isn’t pledging to have Mexico pay for a wall, which was, at least in part, a calculated insult to Mexico’s national pride. A parade is entirely affirmative, or it should be.