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I Want My Fucking Flag Back. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
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I Want My Fucking Flag Back.

For thirteen years, in a galaxy far far away, I pledged allegiance to the flag.

In the year of my birth, it changed for the first time in almost 50 years- first from 48 to 49 stars, and then in another blinding flash to 50- where it's remained for my entire life.

As symbols go, it's a pretty cool one. History, embodied by the stripes honoring the original 13. Change, represented by the blue field which has grown from that original circle of 13 to the now mathematically awesome intermixing of rows of six and five making up the 50.  But ultimately, the number that counts is the number one. One flag. One nation. One out of many, as our real national motto has always put it (before the Fundies got scared by the Commies and God-ded up the official motto and the pledge in the 1950s).

I never cursed the flag. I've never burned it. Yes, I've been ashamed of some things done by those carrying it as their banner, just as I've been ashamed by some things done by those lifting high the alleged Cross. Yet this flag is my flag, as much as your flag, or Trump's flag, or Limbaugh's flag.

After 9/11, the Stars and Stripes made quite the comeback. As recently as late last summer when I've traveled around the NYC area, you still see them hung on bridges and sides of buildings.  But it's been in the current political season that I've seen it co-opted by the right, in a constant and in-your-face way that says, My country right or wrong.

We're not talking a foot-square flag attached to a car radio antenna. No, the typical adornment is a full-sized banner, more suited to your high school's flagpole, flying from a six-foot-or taller pole mounted in the back of a very macho full size F-150.  It's usually accompanied by bumper stickers expressing love of Trump and/or guns, hatred of Obama and/or Hillary, and probably a fully-armed family of stick figures in the back window of the cab. 

Let's think about how these drivers probably feel about the elements making up that symbol. They love the history; nothing those original 13 states' founders did can ever be questioned- including their support of slavery, disenfranchisement of women, encouragement of ammosexuality, or concentration of power in privileged minorities of (and within) those 13 states and the 37 to follow.

Change? Aw hell no.  The melting pot of America was good enough to take in their ancestors but not anyone who doesn't look like them now.  Our broken system of choosing our President and other leaders is seen as some sacrosanct pronouncement worthy of a Lin-Manuel Miranda musical, despite the facts that the Founders did not contemplate political parties and that the current Convention form of nomination is a malformed creation of only the past half-century or so.  And despite the election and re-election of our first mixed-race President, it's clear that we have still not gotten over the underlying hatred that has been percolated back up with the acceptance (if not outright invitation) of the presumptive Republican nominee.

Finally, the unity in that United States flag is falling between the cracks of those 13 stripes.  We are not one nation but at least two- one looking forward to being the best we can be to all of our people, the other looking back to "make America great again" when "great" meant "white, churchgoing, toeing the line and doing what GM says is good for the country." 

That's not what the Stars and Stripes stand for, Bubba.  So you'll forgive me if I don't salute when your truck passes by. And if I'm not offended when some bullshit set of homeowners association rules result in some apartment tenant (who just happens to be named Samuel Adams) being asked to take his American flag down because it violated decoration rules, becoming a right-wing media darling in the process.  (It's the Land of the Free, Sam. You are free to move someplace where there are no such stupid rules.)

We don't do well with fireworks, and Eleanor's working most of the 4th, so I don't think I'll be in any active celebrations tonight or tomorrow.  But next time I attend a baseball game, I will stand, remove my hat, and express my love of nation with whatever flag is flying or anthem is sung.  Because it's my flag, too.

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bill_sheehan From: bill_sheehan Date: July 3rd, 2016 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Here in my condo complex, flags are forbidden. You can't even put up a flagpole. It's one of the reasons I like it here. There's a nice flag flying over the clubhouse; that's enough.

This town was named for Elder William Brewster, who arrived on the Mayflower. It was settled in 1656. First Parish Church convened in 1700 and has been in that spot ever since. We really have no need to prove we're American.

(Oh, and if you thought you'd get around the rules by parking your flag-bedecked F150 in front of your unit, forget it. Cars only. Pickup trucks and motorcycles must be parked in the central lot by the clubhouse.)
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