Thursday, July 2, 2009

Standing by the flag not feeling shameful

Two recent musings on Stars-and-Stripes flag-flying, both at the local level and at the national level:

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From Timothy Egan in the New York Times:
http://egan.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/capture-the-flag/

While following the length of the Lewis and Clark Trail several years ago, I was struck by the huge number of flags in places like rural Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota and Montana. On Indian reservations, the same thing – though often with tribal symbols superimposed. But in the major cities along the trail, St. Louis and Portland among them, I was hard-pressed to find a flag in front of a home.

I wondered whether urban Americans, overwhelmingly Democratic, had something against the flag, or if they felt the country was no longer theirs. Now you can ask the same question of the other side of the political spectrum.

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And locally here in Roslindale, from Ken Ward:
http://www.grist.org/article/2009-07-02-fourth-july-symbol-patriotism/

Flag-flying, like bumper stickers, is an expression of personality and identity, which also, in the aggregate, helps define a community. The journey from Jamaica Plain to Roslindale (...) is marked by a decline in rainbow flags and Tibetan prayer banners and an upsurge of shamrocks and American flags.

It has always struck me that the liberal/progressive rejection of the American flag (traceable to anti-Vietnam protests, I assume) has had a subtle but nonetheless powerful impact on U.S. politics. Refusal to show the flag is an eloquent expression of deep ambivalence toward America and a huge boon for conservatives and the Republican Party.

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This chimes with me. Although I am not American, I do, for the first time, have a small American flag out for the 4th July. And it's because of Obama.

It's interesting to notice the different flags around Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, and West Roxbury too. In Jamaica Plain, it is true, you see Tibetan prayer banners, which you will probably not see in Roslindale and certainly not in West Roxbury. And the shamrock flag count goes up as you go from Jamaica Plain into Roslindale, and then there is no shortage of shamrock flags and Irish tricolors in West Roxbury. But as you go from Jamaica Plain to Roslindale you'll also see Puerto Rican flags and Dominican flags, Greek flags (including the shamrock-covered Panatinaikos flag on Washington Street in Roslindale), and Mexican flags. In Roslindale you'll see some Canadian flags and at least one Swedish flag. There may now be more gay rainbow flags in Roslindale than in Jamaica Plain. In all three areas there are US Marines flags (at least one in each neighborhood that I can think of). You'll also see many of those homely flags showing rabbits (at Easter time), leaves (in autumn), snowmen, and the like.

But everywhere, in all three strongly liberal and strongly Democrat neighborhoods you will see many American flags. This wasn't the case during the Bush years, I think. That's changed now.

Happy 4th of July weekend.

1 comment:

Key Realty Consultants said...

Oddly, being proud to be an American (or appreciative of living here) is not a political matter. The degree to which you feel this emotion isn't tied to your favorite candidate or how much you despise the "wicked other guy."

You either have it - or you can consider yourself something less. Not much middle ground on this one.