Flagging Faith In America

There was an article I was reading via Oriental Redneck about someone said in 2001 that the American flag was “symbol of terrorism and death and fear and destruction and repression”. The town where this Math professor was living had been keeping their American flags up and the professor found it offensive.

Never mind the fact that most people would never understand that, yes, of course, Patriot Act nonwithstanding, the American people are relatively protected from those kinds of things (relatively, I stress). Never mind that they tend to be so ready to dismiss any discussion of the United States’ role in anything unsavoury overseas (of which there is a lot to discuss, if one is willing). Never mind all of that: it’s the way that people use the death of others as a prop to boost nationalism that bothers me. Respondents asked about the flags said this:

“It’s a recognition of the fact that people in Amherst have lost friends and family in the attacks on the United States,” Town Manager Barry Del Castilho said.

In the years since September 11th, it seems to me that verbal shows of nationalism have increased in America. In fact, immediately after the attack, the necessity to self-represent patriotism was so pronounced that it turned most people right off expressing whatever compassion they had. People got tired of say, “Yes, yes, you didn’t deserve it, rest assured, I would never imply that.” Why should a society require such repeated, endless reassurance? Why should a society be on such a strong lookout for those who might accuse it? Is there a layer of guilt lurking there, hiding just beneath the surface of the sayable? Does a lot of America have even the smallest, darkest feeling that, yeah, maybe some foreign policy does piss off people elsewhere, that maybe they’re pissed for a reason? This wouldn’t be the same as saying the actions taken out of this anger are good or understandable, but the anger itself, perhaps, does not surprise people.

I don’t know. What I do know is that I find it sad that the deaths of people in such an attack have been used to prop up all kinds of anti-democratic action in the American government; to justify a war on false grounds; to introduce all kinds of legislation that undoes many of the gains made over many, many years in terms of civil rights and freedoms; and that it is all done in the name of patriotism. It’s a very saddening state of affairs.

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