Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wiederaenders: Where has our patriotism gone?

The Courier city editor notes that "not every home or business that flies a flag lowered it to half-staff" this week in response to the Chattanooga mass shooting, laments the fading of the flag-fervor following the WTC attacks, and projects in that a lack of patriotism in this country.

Tim waxes nostalgic for the days of tattered flags on cars, and by extension the fear-addled response to terrorism that spurred us into two disastrous and stupid wars and bankrupted this country. For Tim it was a time of fellow-feeling, and he happily hums the old tune, never mind why it was such a long way to Tipperary.

But I think the flag-fetish thing matters, not because some of us are less attentive to its rules and customs, rather because many Americans see it as a measure of political loyalty, a concept so often confused (often deliberately) with patriotism. Like every authoritarian movement in history, the American far right wraps itself in the flag and uses it as a brand logo. It upholds the flag as a shining symbol even as it tramples the values and principles the flag was meant to represent.

Given its rampant abuse in the service of political division, is it any wonder that for many of us the Stars and Stripes carries nearly as much baggage as the Stars and Bars?

A national flag should be an expression of shared values, not political division, symbolizing what makes us feel good about ourselves. Like this.

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