Sunday, July 3, 2011

Flag Frenzy

Public radio has been focused a lot lately in its timely fashion on the history of the flag and Americans' seemingly unique obsession with waving it, wrapping themselves in it, and identifying with it every characteristic they view as American.
I wonder why the flag has grown so important to Americans that any perceived slight of it constitutes a breach tantamount to treason. Perhaps it is only our equally characteristic tendentious tendency to take up sides and polarize, in a tug of wills that ends up with everyone on their asses looking like a fool.
Maybe it is just because I am the child of a person not born in the States that I have always viewed this attitude as suspect, but I have always stood apart from it and viewed it ironically. At the same time, I am nothing if not an American, who cannot imagine life in a place where free speech is not permitted. If people want to behave like asses, I will graciously tolerate it, if they equally allow me to take the chance of behaving in an asinine way myself.

8 comments:

marja-leena said...

Yes, I've always found those habits curious. Did you know that wrapping oneselves in a flag, leaving it up all day without a special occasion and not bringing it down at dusk are considered almost treasonous in some European countries, such as Finland?

liz said...

so well said Robbi, I agree fully.
My friend Ron commented on perpetual flying flag in his very side by side Huntington Beach townhome complex. We have a streak of non stoppers here in our tract with our side of the street only as traditionally appropriate. Speaking of what that may constitute, how about an overweight woman volleyball player I passed on a beach hike with white stars on sagging red triangles on top and blue and white stripes beneath. Land of the free indeed.
Happy Independence Day "y'all" ;)

Robbi said...

It is one of those curious things that writers like Flannery O'Connor memorialize so unforgettably, though her particular gift was for the Southern branch of this sort of thinking and behavior, not in its political aspect but in other respects.
Marja-leena, where are you from?

marja-leena said...

Robbi, I was born in Finland but have lived in Canada since we emigrated when I was five. What Liz writes about is the kind of thing we find so curious and disrespectful, for people who profess such love for their flag. Though we do see a bit of that here in Canada as well.

Robbi said...

I didn't know it went on in Canada too!!! I have always thought of Canada as being a place were not so brainless about their patriotism, but I guess it's sitting up there soaking in all the influences from the U.S. How could it totally resist?
What are the customs for displaying the flag in Finland, Marja-leena? I guess I never really thought about it this way before; I just know jingoism and uncritical acceptance of one's country's policies and actions makes me very uncomfortable.

marja-leena said...

Heh, the American pop culture influence is pretty strong in Canada, though the patriotism is still much more low key here.

In answer to your question, you may like to read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Finland
See under 'usage' and 'other rules'. I imagine the rules are common to most western European countries but I've never confirmed the details.

Robbi said...

I guess I always think about Canada as the place that let draft evaders from the Vietnam War escape, and that's why they seem too cool to promote that sort of attitude, but things have changed, and of course, one can't oversimplify an entire country's culture.

Robbi said...

Hm. From that entry, it seems that the laws related to the flag may be stricter than in the States, but it doesn't sound as though people have the same attitude of abject worship as here.