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.
Having spent several hours trying & failing to write up something cogent about how I feel about the Confederate flag, the flag of the slaveholders and their heirs, the Jim Crow lynching racists; the flag of generations of white vipers, thugs and cowards–our own American Nazis; of naive and sentimental blowhards who never seem to have grokked that their glorious “Lost Cause” was no more glorious than Goebbels’ and that their vaunted heroes, Robert E. Lee, and the whole stinking lot of them were traitors and small men, failures, men whose only art was in orchestrated murder and mayhem; of people who were and are too small to apprehend the beauty in the American promise offered to us all by Jefferson et al, rolled out on a silver platter by Abraham Lincoln, and distilled into a language anybody on earth could understand, (even their own children, shamed by the shadow of their benighted “rebel” parents) by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Perhaps I’ll try to elaborate later – though I know it’s probably not worth it, since anybody of good will and a brain already gets my point as obvious, and those who don’t won’t be persuaded by me. But let me say for the record that anybody who asserts that the traitor’s flag, the stars and bars, the Confederate flag, the flag of the disloyal states, the flag of the lynchers, church-bombers, terrorists, segregationists, black-ballers, anarchists, Ku Klux Klan members and all their genteel progeny, harrassers of schoolchildren, threateners of schoolchildren, spitter-uponers of schoolchildren, murderers of schoolchildren; pig-ignorant know-nothing shit-heels, pompous pharisees, good ole boys and their whores, wives and cocksuckers; fat boys and scorers of 450 on SAT tests (if they take them at all), jumped-up jingoists suddenly in love with the USA which they and their kind have sought for generations to destroy and thwart is a symbol of “heritage, not hate” is either a singular liar or double moron.
For the only heritage of the Confederate south is hatred — cowardice and hatred– (Cowardice being the predominant aspect of the Jim Crow male psyche, of which need to oppress white women (and all black people) and reverence of their “battle” flag are the most obvious symptoms), and the rebel flag is a symbol of affection for a despicable, hateful cause and culture, one that was only extinguished by the full might of the non-Dixie regions of the country, and that only after they were shamed into it by the brave and noble African American people of the South – those whom the Confederate flag-wavers had somehow managed to not yet string up from trees.
All of which is not to mention the obvious fact that this “Confederacy” attacked the United States of America, which would put it in the same class as Al Queda, were it not for the obvious proviso that the Confederacy killed a whole lot more Americans than Al Queda ever dreamed of, which kind of puts the Confederacy in a class by itself when it comes to anti-Americanism.
From which it follows that the only response owed to partisans of the Confederate flag on flag day or any other day by decent people everywhere is an extended arm with an upturned middle finger on the hand at the end of it. Maybe some day they’ll realize that fetishizing their stupid flag is nearly as obnoxious as fetishizing the swastika, which our German friends seem to treat with appropriate solemnity. Who knows, perhaps we Americans have lost the ability to be serious about anything. I hope not, but who knows?
So here’s a good thought to all of us and the one flag we can all agree on. Happy Flag Day to all of us.