“Wait a minute. A flag is supposed to represent everything that a country does. It doesn’t only represent the good things. If you burn the flag, you’re burning the flag for what you perceive to be the bad things the country has done. It’s only a symbol. It’s only a piece of cloth. I see them as symbols, and I leave symbols to the symbol-minded” – George Carlin.
I recently (o.k., not so recently, I’ve been busy) wrote about the scourge of anti-intellectualism. How, the cultish worship of ignorance by the far right, and the pushing of policies to force that condition on the average American has resulted in a people whose knowledge and ability to think critically has been woefully crippled. How the cretins, morons, imbeciles, and simpletons that make up the majority of this nation today infect at least 1/3rd of the body politic.
It is possible to view this condition directly through the cult of worship of the American Flag. This particular form of idolatry is pervasive throughout “conservative” culture, and ranks right alongside Jesus as its chief God (Among the poor at least, among the rich corpo-fascists the Gods of Money and Power both rank higher than either Jesus or the Flag – though often what they do is disguise their Gods as one or the other or both). There may even be an American flag inside your church, hung from the rafters, depicted in stained glass, or simply on a pole upon the altar dais.
Oh, you take exception to the idea that the flag is a religious idol in the United States. Look outside your church. Is there a flagpole? There almost certainly is. It flies what? If there is only one, it almost certainly (though not without exception) flies the stars and stripes. If there is two, a “Christian” flag my fly alongside it… at the same height, its equal. Google “Flags in Churches”, you’ll see. Occasionally the “Christian” flag – possibly an idol unto itself depending on your orthodoxy – is flown above the American Flag (a flag code violation no less)…but only occasionally.
Not only does the cult corrupt one of the main purposes of the founding of the United States, freedom of worship, but it also corrupts the teachings of its (largely) Christian followers.
The idolatry of the Flag is not patriotism. It is nationalism. What’s the difference you ask? Well, let’s look at some simple definitions, and then we’ll get more complex;
The Merriam-Webster definition of Patriotism is quite simple, ‘love for or devotion to one’s country.’ That’s it. Easy peasy, right?
Nationalism is more complex; ‘loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups’ or ‘nationalist movement or government.’ It’s the first definition we’re concerned with here (though the second certainly comes into play).
Patriotism is love. Nationalism is exaltation. Notice that the definition of nationalism does not include love. If you’re a nationalist, you don’t love your country, you are merely devoted to it. And devotion without love is servitude, thralldom, yes, it is slavery.
Patriotism is a mature love for one’s country. Nationalism is a juvenile devotion to one’s country. The Patriot sees the harm a nation does, the nationalist does not believe his country can do any wrong – that is a fantasy. Dangerous fantasy.
The Nationalist is a child of his nation, and slavishly dotes over his parent, to the exclusion of all others. The Patriot is a parent to his nation, and strives to ensure that it is a good citizen of the world.
We’ve seen in recent past numerous protests against real or perceived wrongs by the nation by men and women who by this definition are patriots, opposed by men and women who are nationalists.
These nationalists offense at these protests show not that they are good Americans – parents trying correct a child’s bad behavior, but that they are good nationalists, children, and members of a cult of flag worship.
Now you, the nationalist, have to ask yourself which is more important. The symbol, or the foundation. The Constitution is the foundation of this country; the flag is merely a symbol.
The United States Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), and reaffirmed in U.S. v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990), has ruled that it is unconstitutional for a government (whether federal, state, or municipality) to prohibit the desecration of a flag, due to its status as “symbolic speech.” Speech protected by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
It is telling that, in the American South at least, often times the very same American Flag worshipers will sport the Battle Flag of the Confederacy. Arguably traitors to the United States that lost the Civil War. This dichotomy, this anti-government, pro-flag schizophrenia is perhaps the most obvious symbol of the breakdown in patriotism and replacement of it with nationalism.
Anyone who reads this blog knows my position on the election of Donald Trump as the culmination of a long-running fascist plot to destroy democracy in the United States. You know that I consider 45 to be a puppet of the Russian government, and likely of Vladimir Putin personally. I also believe that evidence exists which shows that (that is for another time). Donald Trump was elected by nationalists, whose inability to see past their own nose at the lies they have been told makes them as much a danger to the existence of “The Shining City on the Hill.”
Those of us who consider ourselves patriots, the true PARENTS of the nation, must join together and defeat the fearful nationalists. That is how we make American great again, return it to people who truly love their country enough to correct its bad behavior, and support the ideals of the founding fathers, and truly embrace the idea that we are the home of the brave.
4 U.S. Code § 7 – Position and manner of display (C) – No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy.