Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flag It

With the Fourth of July nearly here, I was hoping that the Senate would celebrate by helping to make flag burning illegal and unconstitutional once and for all. Orrin Hatch, proud patriot and all-around Good American, did his best, but alas, the amendment fell one vote short, and another Fourth will pass with the specter of Old Glory in flames still haunting us.

Say, Son -- I would think you of all people would be against such an authoritarian amendment.

Conceptually, yes. Personally, I despise national flags. All flags, even pretty ones. Flags are symbols of tribes, and tribalism is perhaps the most malignant cancer ever to afflict the race (with fundamentalism pulling up the rear). If I had my way, flags would be obsolete, as would national anthems and borders. Desecrating a flag is a humanistic act, a direct expression of freedom. The fact that there've been only four reports of flag desecration this year worries me. The problem, obviously, is that desecration remains legal. And in our fat, apolitical land, the freedom to burn, rip apart, or wipe your ass with the flag means that almost no one will bother. Thus, we remain stuck with the damn thing, flapping over us everywhere we go, reinforcing the false consciousness of "national spirit."

Our domestic Phalange, and their liberal enablers, have the (far) right idea -- force people to worship the flag. Banning desecration is but the first step. In time, each citizen must be "encouraged" to display the Stars and Stripes in one form or another, either on their clothing, in their yards, from their balconies or windows. Flag stickers on cars, mandatory. And when you apply for a marriage license, a passport, or have your driver's license renewed, bowing before and kissing the flag would be required. If you don't kiss the flag, you don't drive. It's as simple as that.

Under these conditions, we'd be able to see just how much patriotism Americans can swallow without retching. It may take years before any kind of coordinated resistance begins, but that's the bitch about history -- waiting. This may be why most Americans are so appallingly ignorant about any history that matters: we have to wait to see what happens. Allow conditions to slowly unfold. Americans hate that shit. Waiting's for pussies and the French. Diving head first into unknown waters made us great and noble. It's why They Hate Us. But that's another topic . . .

The risk of legislating mandatory patriotism, of course, is that people might grow to like it or just take it for granted, as do most caged animals or fish in aquariums. As frightening as that possibility may be to some, at least we'd know where we stood. There's a certain liberation in seeing things as they actually are, and if we are destined to be slaves to a symbol (and to those who control that symbol), then it's best to just get on with it. Still, I maintain some faith. My hunch is that if forced to Respect The Flag, more people than not will lose all respect for it and the antiquated rituals that accompany it. That's why I think Sen. Hatch is on the (psycho) right track. He's doing much more to get us to the next level of human freedom than those Democrats who oppose him because his amendment undermines what the flag supposedly represents. But then, that's what Dems do -- paint flowers on cell bars. A real and lasting Independence Day is the furthest thing from their minds.

TRIBES: Reader Jake wrote in to remind me that if it wasn't for tribalism, the human race probably wouldn't have survived. Excellent point. We can debate whether or not the race surviving this long was a good or even desirable thing, but if we choose to keep going, surely such reductionist primitivism can be abandoned, or at the very least, kept solely on political and sports talk radio.