How ’BOUT That Flag?

Full disclosure:  I’ve never been a proponent of, “My country, right or wrong.”  In fact, had I the means two decades ago, I would have emigrated.  Now, I still don’t have the means, and I’m even more shamed and saddened by the murder and mayhem the United States has wreaked upon the rest of the world, and upon its own citizens.  Untold thousands displaced due to our Global War on Terror; livelihoods lost, cultural monuments destroyed, infrastructure flattened; not to mention the civilian casualties blithely dismissed as “collateral damage” of the U.S. determination to impose its imperialistic will (a.k.a., “bringing democracy,” or, “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here”) on various weaker nations. 

I realize that my attitude disqualifies me as a patriot in the eyes of many, especially the flag-wavers.  And that’s fine; I make no pretense to fervent patriotism.  Instead, I consider myself a citizen of Planet Earth. 

I do understand, however, that patriotism is a Big Deal in this country.  For those in public life, the degree to which one observes the “accepted” tenets of love for the United States can make or break a career.  There is a scale, and people are closely watched and evaluated.  For instance, some of Barack Obama’s critics seized upon his failure to wear an American flag lapel pin as a shortcoming that put him beyond the pale.

Right-wingers are particularly fond of the meme that they are “real” Americans.  That is, as opposed to everyone who is not like them, either by virtue of politics, religious beliefs, or skin color.  They believe they are the true patriots, and they consider that to be a fundamental, essential character trait for being a worthwhile person.  When they question the government, it’s because officials are being too socialistic or soft on the “others,” or because the powers-that-be attempt to, say, impose mask mandates during a pandemic.  They’re in favor of law and order, as long as no one tries to inflict laws on them

Another common denominator for “true patriots” is that they’re flag wavers.  All the time.  Everywhere.  Somehow, they think that displaying the flag makes them more valid.  My feeling is that, in the normal course of everyday life, if one has a need to brandish symbols or proactively emphasize a given aspect of one’s make-up, it’s an indication of insecurity with respect to whatever is front and center.  As an example, I never took part in the Pagan Pride Day that our local non-standard believers used to hold, because I see no need to flaunt that aspect of my persona.  It’s as much a part of me as my eye color, and I’m perfectly comfortable with it, so I don’t have to go around proclaiming my beliefs in a public place.  My own take is that such exhibitionism is subtly confrontational, a dare to others to say there’s something wrong with a given belief system, orientation, or membership.  I wouldn’t paint all flag displays with this brush, but I think many of them are in that category. 

The most ironic, even hypocritical, circumstance surrounding flag waving is that, evidently, very few practitioners have read the rules of flag etiquette.  I almost never see a flag illuminated at night; one of the local auto dealers has a spotlight on his enormous version, but he’s almost alone in the whole region.  When we go camping, we often see flagpoles attached to trailers, but the flags invariably hang there in the dark.  Same with the flag in our neighbor’s yard.  In fact, the last stars-and-stripes on display was almost shredded before it was replaced.  Neither do people strike their flags in inclement weather.  Nope, they just droop there in the rain and snow, becoming soaked or ice-caked.  Such hypocrisy makes me angry, as do all other instances of bragging about the sanctity of one thing, but then doing the opposite.  But I have to admit that the sheer disrespect for the flag makes me equally furious.  Even though I’m not proud of what my country does in many cases, nevertheless, I absolutely believe that if one is going to display a symbol, one should give it due consideration, for the sake of the idea behind it.  For the same reason that I would never deface a cross or a mandala or a Star of David, I wouldn’t let a flag hang with the union on the right side (backward), were it my responsibility. 

And that’s what is so often the issue with the “true patriots”:  their behavior is all backward.  There’s a difference between quiet, bone-deep belief in something, and showy, gaudy affectations for public consumption.  All the chest-thumping, red-white-and-blue real ’Merricans would do well to make their deeds truly match their words.  And read up on the proper way to fly that star-spangled banner.  I’m looking at you, you guys who line the edges of your campsites with mini flags stuck in the ground, ends dragging in the dirt.

21 thoughts on “How ’BOUT That Flag?

  1. Good points. If you are going to do something then do it correctly and quit pointing at it loudly proclaiming, “me, me, look at me”.

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  2. Politicians are increasingly surrounding themselves with flags. Trump, of course, hugged (or mugged) one.

    Lots of flags serve to diminish critical thinking. On a subconscious level, people see lots of flags and think more highly of the person in front of them, even when that person is an obvious louse or lout.

    Every politician should be limited to one flag per photo op. Including the flag lapel pin. So if you insist on wearing a pin to virtue-signal how much you love America, no other flags for you.

    When I was in the military for 20 years, we hoisted and saluted one flag, not dozens of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really good point about multiple flags. Snarky cynic that I am, I would infer that number of flags = level of insecurity/insincerity. But yes, from a third-party optics perception, masses of banners are surely meant to symbolize strength and power.

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      1. Yes. Strength and power but also reliability and soundness, even goodness. Because we’ve been repeating a Pledge to that flag since we were very young, and it sinks in, a sort of deference, a feeling of rightness if not righteousness, even if we now know better.

        Politicians and other disreputable types know this so they wrap themselves in the flag — nowadays, lots and lots of flags.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree. And another thing that makes me disgusted is using the flag as a curtain, or a head rag, or a tent flap. I see this all the time. And clothing that has elements of the flag are inappropriate as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Denise.
      You liked my comments on Bracing Views (WJAstore’s blog) so I dropped in here.
      Like the picture of you on which London Bridge (I thought it was Hammersmith – which used to be green and is currently closed, but my wife who grew up near by says it isn’t) – so which is it!
      I’m afraid most Brits (well me anyway!) find the American (and European) attitude to flags amusing – it’s just a piece of cloth dammit!
      But the symbolism of having the flag in the classroom we often find offensive – jingoistic and nationalistic rather than patriotic – the old lie ‘Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori’ (sorry if the spelling’s wrong – I didn’t do Latin).
      However, in British schools, religious education is compulsory – odd isn’t it?
      Back to the Flag though – the United Kingdom ‘Union Flag’ (said by many only to be a Union Jack when flown on the jackstaff in the bow of a British warship on active service) needs to be flown the right way up – and is often flown upside down – look carefully!
      Our present government of right-wing little Englanders seem intent on breaking up the ‘Union’ – though they protest the opposite, so then we’ll have to dismantle the flag into it’s component flags of St. George (a Palestinian); St. Andrew (the apostle), and St. Patrick (a romano-british bishop?). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Jack

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      1. Thanks for checking my blog, Trevor. The photo of me was taken on the Tower Bridge, if I remember correctly and have the nomenclature right. My maternal family were Brits who emigrated to both Canada and the U.S.

        Did not know that religious education is compulsory in Britain. For how many years?

        And yes, I think slavish devotion to any symbol is suspect. Quite frankly, such obsession with any “ism” or puffed-up idea is counterproductive, to me.

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    2. I agree! The American Flag is not a fashion statement. It was never meant to be! I’m not a flag-waver, but I ‘do’ respect the flag,& what it stands for. This is still a ‘free’ Country,& God willing, will remain so. In a communist country you have no rights whatsoever. I remember the days of a staunchly communist regime in Russia,& elsewhere. Those people were terrified to even express their opinions lest they be stood up against the wall. Believe me, people. That kind of thing ‘did’ happen once upon a time in this World’s history.
      I still remember the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’. Does anyone else? Do they even ‘teach’ American history to the kids today? How can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?
      Listen to us older people, kids. We’ve been there, done that,& have the T-shirts to prove it. Also, as I saw on the bulletin board in the senior health care facility where I’m lucky enough to work (Lucky cause I’m ‘still’ working)-Quote-Don’t piss off old people. The older we get, the less ‘life in prison’ is a deterrent. Only joking with that one!
      Happy New Year to all. Let’s hope it’s a much better one!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s my understanding that American history is commonly taught as a one-semester survey course these days. In other words, a brief overview, slanted toward dates and the most major events only. That is, geared to whatever the questions are on standard tests in the state in question. i don’t believe Civics is taught at all anymore. And that’s why this country is dumbed-down on so many levels.

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      2. Here is the national curriculum for history in England: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-history-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-history-programmes-of-study
        You might find key stage 1 – 5-7 year olds interesting- everything from [for example, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong, William Caxton and Tim Berners-Lee, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and LS Lowry, Rosa Parks and Emily Davison, Mary Seacole and/or Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell]
        and so it goes on for every year at least to age 14, after that usually a choice of history or geography for two years and then a matter of personal choice.
        I get the impression that Americans (including Presidents) are obsessed with history and know almost nothing about geography (a more important subject?) outside of America – but I’m being unkind!
        I think there’s a similar programme for religious education and it’s compulsory for ages 11-16, not sure about primary.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Here’s the law on religious education in England (different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, each with their own rules – like states in the US.)
    2.3
    All state schools are also required to make provision for a daily act of collective worship and must teach religious education to pupils at every key stage and sex and relationship education to pupils in secondary education.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-framework-for-key-stages-1-to-4/the-national-curriculum-in-england-framework-for-key-stages-1-to-4

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    1. I’m beyond impressed by these curricula, particularly the history details. I haven’t seen a history curriculum in the U.S. since I was a student, but from people I know who are teachers, nothing we have here can compare. I noted the sections that stated as goals that students should be able to formulate their own questions and arguments based on the material introduced, and I believe that responsibility is the antithesis of methods here, under which students are “taught at,” and for practical purposes, original thought is discouraged.

      The overall curriculum, including religious instruction, greatly surprises me. Here, we have no such emphasis on arts and design, for instance. I can’t say that I agree with mandatory religious teaching, but other aspects of British education are indeed praiseworthy.

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      1. Unfortunately, despite what it says in the documents it has been increasingly the case for at least 10 years that here too ‘students are “taught at,” and for practical purposes, original thought is discouraged.’
        I wouldn’t say original thought is totally discouraged but our minister Michael Gove (formerly education and now ‘Brexit’ minister) has moved things back to the way it used to be 50 years ago – a right wing agenda to discourage dissent!
        Yes, Georgina’s blog is not bad is it!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Unfortunately, Trevor, the practice of “teaching at” students has prevailed here for at least 40 years. Teaching for tests is the standard, which leaves out all detail and nuance. Students don’t have context, just a list of factoids. Hence, the cognitive disconnects so prevalent today.

    Yep, loved Georgina’s blog!

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