Playing A Patriot Game

A Red, White and Blue Quiz

July 03, 2004|By Gary Dorsey | Gary Dorsey,SUN STAFF

Spit like a curse.

Hurled like a stone.

Un-American is a label usually reserved for a blasphemer, traitor or mutineer, intended not only to sting but to scar, to sequester and to muzzle.

But what - and who - exactly does it mean? These days, the label affixes as easily to the right wing as to the left; to peaceniks as well as hawks; environmentalists and developers; the anti-abortion crowd and pro-choice advocates.

Anyone, it seems, in the post-9/11 United States can be called un-American. As terrorism threatens the balance between civil liberties and domestic security, and common political discourse polarizes, this term that's always been something of an oxymoron has become increasingly difficult to fathom.

Still, it continues to circulate widely, as its use over just the past year demonstrates.

On this Fourth of July eve, we offer a multiple-choice quiz to celebrate the grand idea that only in America can the brand un-American be worn by people of so many different stripes - a meditation on the generosity of a concept that, unlike any other in the world, is truly "as American as apple pie."

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