March 11, 2005

Nationalistic Symbols and Their Meanings

Our receptionist Deborah was just complaining to me about seeing some smarmy car lot in town display a hybrid of an American flag. She said she thought it was defacing the flag to have a soldier on it. I replied, disagreeing. I see the flag as just a symbol, nothing more. Nothing less.

Don't get me wrong it's not like I get pissed if someone burns it. I don't. I could care less if they wiped the brown stains from last night's partying from their ass with it. It's just I understand what a symbol is and how it can be manipulated to serve certain ends.

For instance, there are stark images in the old Life magazines from the 60's of the radicals burning the flag. These don't bug me. There was an episode of Barney Miller wherein a guy was arrested for having a flag on his ass. That doesn't bug me in the slightest either. BUT what does bug me is the flag in the city park not 75 feet from my office door where Old Glory flies. She's tattered and torn. Then there's a flag affixed to a boomcrane in a sand pit just north of town near the juvenile center. That is not just tattered, it's in shreds. Disgusting.....

Then, if you have been watching the news at all this week, they've concluded most Americans don't know the National Anthem. I know it. I can recite it by heart (but trust me you don't want to hear my singing voice). I get teary-eyed everytime I hear it. (By the way- there are FOUR verses)

There are some right-wingnuts on a moral crusade to protect the words "under God." Personally, I think they're full of shit. The original pledge didn't even have it in it, but they'll never admit it. They don't understand what the times were like when the Knights of Columbus pushed for the inclusion of those words in the 50's. They don't understand the attack on freedom of speech and freedom of association that was being waged against many in our country because of who they may have associated with or ideas they may have examined.

The words are still included right now, but I don't include them. I go silent on those words. I don't cause a stir, but at least I am being true to my beliefs.

All of these things are just symbols. They are symbols of our democracy and the never-ending fight we have as Americans to keep our society free and just. They are symbols of our unity in that goal. In that regard, I support the symbolism, but I don't believe in the power of the objects themselves.

I believe in free speech, so even if I don't approve of burning the flag, I'll support your right to burn it. I don't believe in your God, but I support your right to say the words if it makes you feel better (just hopefully your God isn't being supported above all others by our government or our tax dollars). I am, however, bugged by your display or use of those symbols without regard to presenting them with some type of respect and to allow a flag that you display out of patriotism to be tattered and torn is appalling.

At least have a sense of decorum and a sense of history. And learn the fucking words.....


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