Now that the war against terrorism is well under way, things have eased up a little in Clarkesville. A month ago, you could not walk into a room full of people without someone trying to pin a flag on your lapel. If you refused, or even hesitated, you were treated to such a narrowing of the eyes that you got a sense of what it must have been like to be a suspect during the McCarthy era, or an early Christian in Rome. The pressure to salute the state was so great that it felt dangerous not to.
Recent victories in Afghanistan seem to have released some of the tension. Chasing down the Taliban over there has become more compelling than chasing down reluctant patriots at home. Plus, the holidays are here. Most of the churches in town have taken the red, white and blue bunting off their facades for Thanksgiving, and by next week Christmas decorations will outnumber American flags.