WASHINGTON D.C., June 22, 2012 – Call me hopelessly sentimental, but I’ve always regarded our nation’s capital and all of its historic buildings with special reverence. There’s so much meaning and symbolism erected in D.C. as a visual expression of the kind of intellectual and cultural excellence the city’s builders aspired to. In the White House, the State Dining Room mantel speaks for itself: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this House, and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”
We’ve obviously come a long way from invoking bipartisan blessings to flipping presidential portraits “The Bird.” Perhaps one may not like the portraits hanging on the wall and the men they represent, but guests to the White House should never forget the building they’re in and the Americans it represents.
What we are witnessing is a degeneration of respect for American institutions and a collapse of personal bearing. The activists who reveled in taking obscene photographs crossed an unspoken line of protocol that should have never been overstepped. Whether you are heterosexual or homosexual, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, what happened in the White House should be thoroughly condemned by everyone.
I’m reminded of the story of U.S. Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz who, daughter at his side, once observed a presidential motorcade passing by. Annoyed that she simply stood idly watching, Nimitz scolded, “Whether you salute Roosevelt or not is up to you, but you are going to salute the President.” She did.
Where is that kind of citizen dignity and bearing today?
America is bigger than policies and opinions. It’s an exceptional nation and its government offices can be said to be chapels of democracy. There is no law dictating that one should show respect, but truly, the greatest testimony to any political movement is the bearing and decorum of its members. If activists are looking to promote their cause, defiling the character of the White House isn’t the place or the way to do it.
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