Seizing The Microphone Or Just Hanging Myself With The Cord?
With patriotism once again a big topic in the news and on social media south of the border (that would be in the US, I'm Canadian) once more, patriotism, and flag worship seems to me to be timely and relevant topics to address (they're not the same thing), and I'm taking some first draft copy from the book I'm writing, Power To The People, and throwing it out here.
Whether as food for thought, or fuel for the fire is yours to decide.
One of the lessons being shown by the current media frenzy surrounding athletes taking a knee as a form of peaceful protest is that people don't always hold the opinions you might expect of them, be they a decorated war veteran or a sports figure, or the batshit insane (that's the medical term for it) sitting President of the United States of America. Well, he pretty much holds whatever views you might expect of him by now... But it's the dozens of takes you never remotely imagined he might come up with that really set him apart.
That said, I am aware that this is a highly sensitive subject and that I will not likely, but assuredly offend, in some cases gravely, the sensibilities of many, many of my American neighbours. I regret this insofar as I don't enjoy hurting anyone, for any reason, but sometimes it's unavoidable if the controversial message addresses a sensitive topic.
In this case, that topic is your unreasoning, knee–jerk flag worship, which borders on being some sort of national fetish, disguised as patriotism, and which is the result of a concerted effort by your government to divert your loyalties from one another, and the pressing issues of the time, in favor of some good old–fashioned nationalist jingoism. That never goes out of style.
As I will be happy to show when I do get my book written, Thomas Jefferson and I are in complete accord on this:
THE GOVERNMENT IS YOUR ENEMY
Really. It should be your (civil) servant but it is in fact anything but, and has been relentlessly and systematically destroying, or at the very least seriously undermining your rights and freedoms, while shackling you with laws, crippling debt, odious obligations, and a hopelessly uninformed (mis)understanding of your own nation's cultural heritage, to say nothing of your solemn civic duty and the sad reality that the inspired and inspiring national identity that your founding fathers, who counted among them some utterly brilliant minds, very notably one T. Jefferson, worked long and hard to craft for you, to ensure your right to live as you choose, in freedom and fellowship.
I know it wasn't perfect in every detail, by which I imply such rather large details as womens' rights, first nations' rights and territories, and, ahh, that 'peculiar institution' more commonly known today as slavery, but it could have been, and eventually it got there. Actually, there's not anything in the original Constitution and Bill of Rights (which is just the first ten Constitutional Amendments, which were passed as one lot, by the way) that specifies that a black man, or any woman, has no right to citizenship, or to vote...
Of course there was eventually an amendment introduced disenfranchising black people, and subsequently another one passed to repeal that, but that's over and done with, right?
You're all Americans, first and foremost, aren't you?
THEN START ACTING LIKE IT
A person of integrity who is proud of, and loyal to, their country.
Like the way that looks? The imagery it evokes, of vigorous, moral and ethical people taking an active hand in making their country one that they CAN be proud of?
You're welcome. I wrote that myself a few years back, with a very specific American whose intellect, integrity and character, and whose love for his country and concern for the state it finds itself in, inspired in me the need to somehow express my love and admiration for him, and the people and ideals he loves in mind.
His name is Imara Crooms, by the way. Look him up somehow. You may really like what you find. And yes, this is a shameless, unsolicited plug. Actually, knowing Imara, he'll be pretty embarrassed if and when he reads this, but that's just another indication as to the sort of person he is.
You see, for all that I'm getting all up in your business and kicking you somewhere tender, America, I don't hate you in the slightest. I don't dislike you. In truth, I love you.
Or at least I love the best of you. And it is killing me to see the sad depths to which you've sunk as a people. It's fucking killing me, to the point that I am expending an immense amount of energy, and subjecting myself to real pain and discomfort just typing this (nerve damage in my hands and wrists, thanks for asking) knowing that it will, ultimately, fall short of what I am desperately trying to accomplish.
Knowing with absolute conviction that I will offend and alienate the very people I am trying to reach.
All because of that fucking flag.
OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE FLAGS THEY ARE PROUD OF TOO
For one thing, there's that. Many, many people from many nations, in my personal experience, no research required here, belong to countries with flags. There's a surprising number of them, really. And each of those nations' flags, or national colours, or call them what you will, have strong symbolic meaning for them, and represent ideals or concepts that they are proud of, and identify with, just like you do.
The flag is just a symbol. It's not a sacred object. It certainly shouldn't be the object of idol worship, as the result of another American national atrocity.
Which atrocity would be the Pledge of Allegiance, and it goes hand in hand with this ridiculous and sadly misinformed flag fetishism you're sporting.
I imagine you're more than a little bit sceptical. Honestly, I don't blame you. You don't know any better, you weren't taught otherwise, and it's your government's dumbing down the education system in America's fault for that, although by extension that makes it your fault, as citizens, for letting your government get out of hand like this.
Just as Thomas Jefferson repeatedly warned you it would, all those years ago. Really, if you read his words on the subject, easily googled but I've included a quick link just to be sure, he's damned near if not actually prescient in his predictions as to how things would go with regards to your government, liberty, civil duty, education, big banking and bigger business... All the things that have factored into landing you in the mess you now find yourselves in.
And I have some worse news for you. It took you decades to retard yourselves to the extent that was your last presidential election, partisan politics and all, and it's probably going to take you a similarly long time to reverse the disease, if it's not too late already.
But that's all subject matter I am addressing in my book. For now, on to the flag.
There she is! Old Glory!
Wait a minute. I pulled a fast one on you. That's not your (current) flag at all. Why, that's the Grand Union Flag, the very first American flag, adopted on January 1, 1776 when none other than George Washington himself first displayed it. With the thirteen bars representing the original colonies, and the union jack presumably serving as a placeholder until you were good and ready as a nation to take on the British Empire and fight for your independence.
There we go. I couldn't pull a fast one on you twice, could I?
You just don't know what it symbolizes.
By the way, I did fool you twice. That first flag? That's not the Grand Union Flag at all. That's the flag of the British East India Trading Company. Which most of you have likely never heard of, but trust me, it's going to get relevant pretty quickly.
Here's the actual Grand Union Flag, and no more tricks, it's the authentic item.
I know it looks the same but if you pay close attention, the union jack in the top left corner is square, not rectangular. As far as differences go, that's it. Look:
So you can be forgiven for not having noticed the switch right away. After all, when's the last time you even saw this one? Were you even taught about it in school?
I know there's this fairy tale about a nice old lady named Betsy Ross sewing the first, original Old Glory, but that's a total fabrication. As true as the story about George Washington and the cherry tree, and while we're on the topic, why exactly are these fables taught to impressionable children? Particularly when the true version of events is usually so much more interesting.
In George's case, he wasn't a chipper, honest little urchin, he was a stone cold killer with ice water running through his veins who, while leading his troops against the British forces spoke openly about how bracing it was to hear bullets whizzing right by ones' head, to which the stodgy and infinitely less manly King of England replied to the effect that maybe he should go and get an even closer experience with one.
In the other flag's case, it's first of all interesting to note that it had been around since 1707, and that it was absolutely a familiar sight in the American colonies. For one thing, the British East India Trading Company, one of the world's first publicly traded corporations, along with the British West India Trading Company, and their competitors the Dutch East and West India Trading Companies.
So one of the world's first companies, as we understand the concept today, was a very familiar sight in any port in the American colonies. I mean, where do you think the tea that got spilled during the Boston Tea Party came from?
As opposed to the bigotry and vitriol spilled by the current, morally and intellectually objectionable incarnation of the tea party...
And more importantly, and now we're getting somewhere, WHERE DO YOU THINK ALL YOUR SLAVES CAME FROM!?
I'll give you three guesses, and a hint: The West India Trading Companies didn't operate in the new world.
That's right. These people, and their Dutch counterparts, were by far the biggest importer of foreign enforced labour in the New World. They made it an assembly line of human misery and degradation. They bought and sold slaves, which is to say your fellow human beings, in uncounted numbers. Actually, I'm pretty sure there's some educated counts out there, but I'll save you the guesswork: It's a LOT. An unconscionable, unforgivable, incomprehensible mass of humanity. Year after year. For centuries. All wrapped in those colours, under that flag.
You know, the inspiration for your current flag, which is after all just the same thing with the union jack removed and some stars thrown in. You even kept the colour scheme.
Which is to say, your revered and sacred rag got its start as the calling card of institutionalized human trafficking, before being given a slight facelift.
Are you absolutely certain that whatever meaning it's accrued for you since then is enough to even begin to wipe away the shame of that association?
Which brings me back to the matter of the Pledge of Allegiance.
FLAG FETISHISM 101
Flag worship, as laid out in the Pledge of Allegiance, has been part of the fabric of America since forever.
Actually, that's not true. While it was composed in 1882, which still isn't that long ago (your great–grandparents were quite likely alive around then), it wasn't adopted by Congress and made a thing until...
Wait, what, 1942? Just seventy–odd years ago. At the height of a world war, I might add, when propaganda is always at its shiniest and nationalist sentiments tend to find fertile soil.
But it's the Pledge of Allegiance that introduced the intellectually and morally crippled notion of swearing loyalty to a fucking flag (never mind the addendum 'under God' in 1954, which absolutely runs counter to that whole notion of a separation of church and state) as opposed to, you know, pledging your loyalty to your fellow citizens. Or even to, say, the Constitution, a symbol that not only means something noble and honourable and free, but is a working part of your country's ongoing existence. When you don't let the government undermine it, ignore it, generally try to slide out from under it...
Anything but pledging your unquestioning obedience to a fucking rag, much less one rooted in the worst period of your country's history.
And for fuck's sake, having it be a mandatory part of early childhood education? I mean seriously, are you fucking kidding me? That's outright brainwashing, to say nothing of the notion that a child, legally understood to be unable to give consent by definition, should not be brainwashed into surrendering their right to give or withhold consent before they're old enough to even understand the concept?
Other countries do not do this, America. It's actually sickening to me to even think about it.
You're crippling yourselves with this abject idol worship when you could be pledging yourselves (as informed and consenting adults, mind) to an ideal WORTH living and, yes, if necessary dying for.
Your fellow citizens.
You know, your neighbours (who you may not even know by name any more), and those who live all the length and breadth of your once–great nation. Be they white, black, hispanic, asian, first nation, bloody Australian–American for all it makes any difference.
Yes, you have differences. Some of them deep and divisive, though they absolutely don't have to be, and shouldn't be. But you have a lot more in common than you do dividing you.
You have being citizens of the United States of America in common, and once upon a time, that used to mean something. In America, among Americans, but also to the world. The fucking world looked to you as an example of a free society. Believe me, the world still looks to you, though your tone–deaf indifference to anything beyond your own borders has pretty much misinterpreted this notion, while you blind yourselves with self–importance and serve your corporate masters' self–interests, but take my word for it, they don't look to you the way they used to.
And what, do you imagine, is the symbol that THEY associate with the failure they see now?
Please, America, I'm begging you, give up your false idols and find your true source of pride, and the only way you're going to save yourselves from the festering mess you find yourselves in now.
Find one another. Before it's too late and you, and the precious ideals for which you once so proudly stood, are hopelessly, irretrievably lost.
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