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Followup to July 4th

In my post on what gnomi and I did on Independence Day, I referred to two friends of arib's who joined us, and noted that they were not on LJ.

I was incorrect. One of them maintains an LJ account at elul_3. However, she does her blogging at http://www.devarim.com, which I have now syndicated to LJ at devarim_blog.

From her post about our day hearing the Declaration, she notes :


..., this morning we decided to head on down to the Old State House to hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence. I've been told that this pubic reading has taken place every July Fourth since 1777 (there was a bit of a time lag in 1776, and the document didn't make it up here and get approved for public reading until the 18th)....

We spotted more than a few red-white-and-blue outfits (I was among the guilty, with my jeans, red polo shirt, and white beret) - and one girl, probably about 15 or 16, with a particularly interesting take on patriotism. She folded a flag approximately in half to create a triangle, and then tied it around her waist so it draped over her butt. Um...last I checked, that's not appropriate treatment of our flag...

Comments

I think I've seen this one violated lots

" (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. "
Americans seem to get way more worked up about "appropriate treatment of the flag" than other countries. Or at least than Canadians and Brits do -- I suppose on reflection my experience isn't actually that wide. It seems to go along with the oddly royal deference shown to the Office of the President. Or maybe it's just because the flag gets used as a political football more often here. Though that could work the other way -- maybe the flag gets politicized because there's a large contingent who are so touchy about it and it's an easy way to piss them off.

Anyway, I don't get it.

Think of it as a religious icon. Americans honor the flag in many ways, and some feel that respect for the flag is equivalent to respect for the country. It may not be the way citizens of other countries regard their flags, but looked at from this perspective, you can start to see why people get worked up about it.

There's an amusing irony here when it comes to flag-burning, of course. Some Americans want to make it unconstitutional to burn the flag. Others see it as a first amendment right, that burning the flag is a legitimate form of protest. But the fact is that old, tattered flags are supposed to be burned, as a sign of respect of what they once were, making an anti-flag-burning amendment seem illogical to those of us who know the flag code.
It feels odd and uncomfortable for me to treat a national flag as if it were a religious icon. Countries are not deserving of worship.
I understand; but people who are viewing the flag in that way are honoring the ideal of what they want the country to be, more than the country itself. (At least, I hope so.)

I've been trying to track down a quote I recall, about how Democracy is the American religion (because of the separation of church and state), but I can't find it. Anyway, my point was simply to give you a frame of reference for why some Americans have such a strong feeling about their flag. To them, burning the flag feels like the equivalent of burning America. (I've especially noticed this feeling among the veterans who say that their fellow soldiers died for the flag. It's hard to convince someone with such a strong emotional attachment to the flag that it doesn't need constitutional protection.)
The flag code is hilarious, because the people who use it as a nationalist prop are the ones who are violating all that stuff the most.
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