Here in the USA, Flag Day, a little-observed holiday, has just drawn to a close.
I woke up yesterday & discovered it was Flag Day, which I took to be a little nudge from the universe to go on the record with some thoughts about not only our American flag, but also about the obscene so-called “Battle Flag of the Confederacy”, which I do below. I say Flag Day was a nudge from the universe because I had written a longish/rant essay on this topic two days ago in response to a note from a friend of mine with whom I had been having an email discussion about the horrible Confederacy and its shitable flag. His most recent note was so preposterous that I waited a few months before figuring out how to answer. A few nights ago I finally wrote a reply. But didn’t send it, fearing it was too incendiary and I was too tired to have any judgment about it. In the morning, out of cowardice, I deleted it. Now I kinda wish I hadn’t. Oh well.
I’m not a flag fetishist. It doesn’t really bother me to see pictures of people with real or imagined beefs against the United States of America burning our flag. Which doesn’t mean that I’m a flag abuser myself; I’m not. I used to have a flag that I displayed on the 4th of July and Memorial Day. But it wore out, so I disposed of it (“properly”) and haven’t replaced it. In other words I’m not much of a flag-waver. I don’t get all weepy at the sight of “Old Glory”.
Nevertheless I acknowledge that the American flag has deep meaning even to non-fetishists like me. Among other things, the flag is the emblem and most serious symbol of respect for those who have given their lives in the service of all of us. A prettily folded flag presumably doesn’t mean a lot to those who are dead. But it certainly often means a lot to their survivors, who are certainly due our consideration. Wherefore I don’t like to see a tattered flag left out in the weather or tied to a car antenna; I don’t like to see a flag touch the ground. I always fold the flag the traditional tri-corner way I was taught in the Boy Scouts, and I handle it respectfully.
A few days ago I was at a party and the paper napkins there had the American flag printed on them, which took me aback. That image didn’t stop me from wiping my nose with one of the napkins, but I thought it was kind of tacky. I thought it was disrespectful, basically, and I wouldn’t purchase napkins like that for use at my house. What I’m saying is that I’m old-fashioned, despite being a pinko commie Massachusetts liberal.
Similarly I think it’s tacky to make American flags into t-shirts or bathing suits or laundry bags or Harley-Davidson paraphernalia. I think it’s tacky to superimpose images — for example, a picture of an American Bald Eagle –over the picture of a flag. I once met a guy, a proud Iranian-American auto mechanic, In Cambridge, Massachusetts, who had in his office an American flag onto which he had stitched a verse from the Koran in green thread. “No Muslim would ever deface that now,” he said proudly. To him, it was a sign of utmost respect to marry the Koran and the American flag. I appreciated his sentiment, but, not being Muslim and not being able to read the verse, I just thought it made the flag look cheesy. (It would be equally tacky to put a bible verse or any other kind of printed statement.) But these are matters of taste, not things I get myself all lathered up about. If somebody were to wipe his ass with the flag I would think it pathetic and boorish, but I don’t think I would experience any violent impulses.
Which brings us to the Confederate flag, or as I prefer to call it, the flag of the disloyal states, the anti-American flag, the Jim Crow flag, the flag of all the worst that is within us Americans.