Respectable conservatives allow liberals to be loyal only to the left, and to claim to be patriotic. As I pointed out on October 31, 1998, in FIVE WORDS AND EMMA LAZARUS, leftists wave the American flag and say that they are loyal to "all men are created equal" and open borders, but not to America or Americans.

Respectable conservatives are always saying how patriotic their liberal opponents are. Not only is liberal flag-waving not patriotic, liberals insist that anyone who is loyal to America as a land or a people is anaziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews (See July 29, 2000, ANOTHER WRITER IS PROUD TO HAVE NO FEELING FOR HIS HOMELAND OR HIS PEOPLE).

So when leftists wave the American flag it is absolutely meaningless, and conservatives are always grovelingly grateful to them for making even this token gesture. Liberal patriotism is a wooden nickel, and conservatives gobble it up.

Liberals, however, will not accept such fake currency when a symbol is important to them. For example, when you saw the Mexican flag being used as a symbol of the leftist grape boycott, it is meant to represent the interests of MEXICANS.

Likewise, when Mexican music was played and the first all-Spanish speech was spoken at the Republican Convention, it was not a meaningless token like Democrats waving the American flag. The media said over and over that they didn't want to be betrayed by Bush. They demand that this mean that Bush will do things for the PEOPLE OF THE REPUBLIC OF MEXICO.

It means no more talk of protecting the US borders. It means no more English-only initiatives.

When Colin Powell got up there, he did not ask for symbols, either. He said he wanted affirmative action from Bush. He said Bush was trying to enforce affirmative action in Texas universities despite the fact that the Federal courts had outlawed it.

The crowd roared.

Another fascinating thing that Powell demanded was that conservatives abandon any effort to reach out to any minority "leaders" who are not firmly liberal. He said that today's black leadership, which is owned outright by the left, is the "real" leadership of the black community.

Republicans, he said, must only deal with these NAACP types.

CNN had talks with a group of "typical American voters." Most of the questions were aimed at the two black members of the tiny panel. They asked what these gentlemen wanted if they were to vote Republican. One said "affirmative action." The other said he might consider voting Republican if Republican Senators would confirm the Federal judges appointed by Clinton and blocked by the Senate.

Naturally CNN did not ask why your average American voter -- especially one who might vote Republican -- would just happen to be solely interested, not in education or taxes, but in the quick approval of Democratic judges. But that is not my point. My point is that both blacks, with perfect predictability, wanted specific liberal policies.

If you wave a Mexican flag at the left, you had better give something Americans have to Mexicans. If you talk about blacks, you had better be ready to give something white people have to blacks.

The left wants American jobs for Mexicans. They want university slots and jobs for blacks in place of more qualified whites.

They also accept hard cash.

By contrast, the right will take liberal flag waving and other wooden nickels and cry with gratitude. Those wimps wouldn't last five minutes in the hard left.