Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Bad Idea on Flag Day

It's Flag Day today and from where I sit, looking out my gigantic second story picture window it seems to me that not very many people have noticed.  Oh to be sure I see the Stars and Stripes flying from flagpoles all around, but those are always up.  What I am not seeing is the ubiquitous flag mounted on a diagonal pole on the front porch, using that little bracket that you see on millions of buildings around the country.  Flag Day is a holiday to commemorate Congress' adoption of the Stars and Strips as the official flag of the United States of America on June 14, 1777.  So it's basically the flag's birthday.  And as we tend to do on birthdays we, display the celebrant all over the place.  So that's the idea behind the holiday, if you can call it that.  
But the holiday has been co-opted.  I am surprised that this story is not causing more of a stir.  A quick check of the channels where people in suits yell at me like they know what they're talking about (a.k.a. MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, Headline News, CNBC, etc.) found that it wasn't even scrolling across the bottom.  Seriously, the fact that this story isn't causing more ripples across the country is really just throwing me for a loop.  Anyway, it's Flag Day, as I've said, and a group of people in the Tampa, Florida area have seriously misinterpreted the holiday.  At 8 am local time the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) raised a gigantic, 100 pound Confederate flag on a 139 foot flagpole near a busy intersection in the Tampa suburb of Mango.  By the time you read this post the Stars and Bars will have come down, since it came down about 40 minutes before I began writing it.  That's not the point.  The point is that this is not a good idea at any level.  None.  Flying the flag of the Confederate States of America on Flag Day, which is to commemorate the birthday of the flag of the United States of America is like giving your son gifts on your daughters birthday.  It's like driving a restored World War II era German Panzer tank in a V-E Day parade.  It is not a good idea.  Sure your tank is cool, and maybe your grandfather drove one in the war before he immigrated, great.  But you are still missing the point.  And so are the boys in the SCV.
Nelson Winbush, a member of the SCV, stated that "It's just a symbol that represents southern heritage."  That's fine, but there is a time and a place for that.  Flag Day is certainly not the time.  And a giant flagpole on the corner of a busy highway in a major metropolitan area is not the place.  Back in the late 1990's the state of South Carolina faced boycotts and lawsuits because they flew the Stars and Bars on their statehouse because it offended millions upon millions of people.  Especially African Americans.  And that was a regular sized version, flying below the Stars and Stripes and the palm tree and crescent moon of the the South Carolina state flag.  So why the SCV thought that flying a gigantic version would be a good idea is beyond me.  They even want to try to have it flying permanently by early July.  Like that is going to fly (excuse the pun).  All of this just screams bad idea.  And no one who is associated with the CSV, maybe even someone who was friends with the leader of this particular chapter had the common sense to say "Ummm...maybe you want to rethink this one?  Perhaps you shouldn't do this.  Don't you think it will piss some people off?"  Where was that guy when they were planning this thing?  Was he in a coma?  Was he out of town?  Was he busy filming a lame commercial for AT&T wireless?  In line at the Florida DHSMV waiting to renew his plates or what?  I want someone to investigate this because he very obviously failed in his role as the voice of reason.  I bet when he was a kid everyone got hurt when he was on vacation, because he wasn't around to say "Hey guys, I am thinking that we shouldn't jump our bikes off this freeway overpass."  This guy should have a walkie talkie, or some sort of radio on him AT ALL TIMES so he can always be reached and can keep his dumbass friends in the SCV from doing stupid shit.
As a sidebar, I wonder what you do in this situation if you are one of those rural southern white men who have the Confederate flag on every surface of their 1984 Ford F-150 AND their bass boat yet who are super patriotic and also have the yellow Support the Troops ribbons on everything as well are going to do.  Because now their allegiance is torn.  You can't have the Stars and Stripes on everything to support the war and have the Stars and Bars on everything to support your southern heritage because I don't know if they realize that but the two are diametrically opposed in their symbolism.  You support America spreading ideas like democracy and equality to all parts of the world, to Iraq and Vietnam and Nicaragua, yet you also support the flag of a regime that systematically oppressed minorities for almost two hundred years?  That doesn't sound like it jives to me.  You need to turn the bass fishing off, sit down, remove your trucker hat, and figure this out.  Maybe make a flow chart or something, I don't know.  Do what you've got to do but really, you should just pick one.
Anyway, sorry about that.  If you want to fly the Confederate flag that's fine.  That's your right as an American just like it's my right not to.  Just like it's my right to belittle you in the blogosphere.  Fly it all you want.  But choose an appropriate time and place.  Many southern states have a Confederate Memorial Day.  Run it up your flagpole then.  Maybe have it flying in front of your SCV office instead.  I don't know.  But I do know that a giant flag on a giant pole really isn't appropriate.  And especially not on Flag Day.

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