THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 223, May 11, 2003
Why I Took Down “Old Glory”
by Jay P Hailey
I used to love my flag. I used to love the little 3 X 4″ ones they’d hand out every 4th of July. I’d take them home and plant or post them all over my house.
I had Stars and Stripes pins. I went and bought a lapel pin after 9/11. A friend chided me gently about jumping on the bandwagon and I said, “You know I’ve been a flag waver all along. I’ll have these things up and displayed even after it’s no longer cool.”
My friend nodded. He’d seen my collection.
I can read history. I know of some of the terrible crimes that have been committed under that flag. (Ask any Native American). But to me this flag represented a promise. a Promise that if we kept liberty in mind and kept taking steps in that direction, maybe one day it would really stand for the principles of that vague promise.
Everyone equal under the law, everyone has the same rights, by their very nature. I own myself. You own yourself and there would be lines a just government just wouldn’t cross.
The Reagan Administration worried me, using the flag more for PR and symbolism that substance. Nice photo ops of the great leader while the promises went unfulfilled.
Then the Flag Burning amendment came up. I never spoke at any great length with anyone on a “pro” side of that. The couple of people I approached became very emotional and angry, difficult to speak with.
One patch of dirt calling itself Freedonia is pretty much the same as another patch of dirt calling itself Anvilania. The difference is in the principles.
People seemed will to throw away principles in favor of an incoherent shriek that our patch of dirt is better “just ’cause!”
My faith was restored (a little) when the Flag Burning Amendment died, and had its little corpse dragged around to make political hay. Just another PR stunt. Nothing to see here.
Then Sept 11 happened. We were all new Yorkers that day, and we were all Americans. The individuals doing what they felt right lifted my spirits like I can’t express to you. The immediate aftermath independent of the government was one of this country’s shining moments. This is when we saw some of what people were made of.
There was some backlash against Muslims and Arab Americans. My True Love went up to the Muslim-American Center here in town and placed her delicate body between it and any possible threat, and she wasn’t alone when she did it.
Repeated calls went out that can be summarized “Hey, don’t be an idiot, don’t take it out on our Muslim and Arab neighbors.”
I was on cloud nine. “This is who we are!” I thought.
Then the Patriot act passed and I thought “Uh oh!” and hoped it was just another PR stunt. It’s not.
Then came the war in Afghanistan. 3000 Afghanis dead and counting (Plus over 200 of our brothers and sisters in uniform, and counting). W made all sort of promises with my tax money, and then didn’t live up to any of them. (Instead all of our tax dollars go to buy 36 Virginia Class attack subs that have no purpose in the world of today, or tax cuts to corporations that contribute millions to the re-election campaign.)
Then we hear of Americans being taken prisoner and hauled off without the benefit of counsel or due process.
Then the war in Iraq. We all new it was coming the moment the President sighed like a little boy forced to apologize and marched into the U.N and said “My way or the highway!”
I remember the goofy rationalizations and lies, and an unstoppable momentum towards attacking a country that posed us no threat at all.
Now there are 2500 Iraqi people dead (probably a lot more) and counting. Another 200 American Service people dead, and counting.
People are still cheering. If the aftermath of 9/11 is the best of our country, the war in Iraq is our dark side. The news says a lot of people support the war. The permanent, floating “War Against Whatever It Is, This Week”. Some people “Support Our Troops”, which I take to mean like rooting for the home team in the big game.
Except this ain’t the super bowl. 400+ of our people would are gone and so are tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those aren’t touchdowns. Those are dead human beings.
I support our troops. Let’s bring them home, feed them cookies and buy them drinks! Sending them out to die for the cause of Halliburton’s bottom line is not supporting them by any definition I can call sane.
Any of the promises or principles that I used to feel were attach to that red, white and blue rag have been obliterated. It’s just the gang colors of the meanest batch of monkeys on some random patch of dirt.
I had to take it down. I looked at Stars and Stripes but instead I saw Swastikas, Hammers-and-Sickles, red flags, Jolly Rogers and maybe a crusader’s cross or two.
I hear Fox News, CNN and MSNBC giving Bush blowjobs right out of the Gobbels manual for fascist propaganda, always with that rag fluttering nearby.
It’s not a promise any more. It’s a lie and a direct threat of violence.
Recently I began to purchase Gadsdens. The yellow flag with the rattlesnake and the legend “Don’t Tread on Me”.
I can believe in that. Leave me alone. I don’t want to play “Justify the Nazi” any more. I don’t want to pay for his war machines and his jackbooted thugs. I certainly don’t want them pointed at me.
America once might have been the land of the free, but now it’s the land of the free ride for rich oil barons and corrupt energy executives paid for with the fruits of my labor. This monster is paid for in the blood of people who I’ve never met and who now want to kill me.
So I took down the symbol of the Texas Reich, the symbol of the largest, richest and one of the more brutal Evil Empires in all history. I would no sooner fly the swastika in my home or office.
They took a symbol I loved and believed in and destroyed it.
Goddamn them. Goddamn the Bush administration and their corporate cronies and all their power hungry thugs who don’t understand that it’s just another set of gang colors unless it means something.
I am going to get used to saying it. I bet I’ll be saying it more and more over the next several years.