“The flag still stands for freedom…” or does it?

 

Last week I saw a Jeep in front of me with a giant American flag on the back of it. It wasn’t a holiday. It’s early December, so a jeep driving around town with a giant flag flowing behind it stood out. My initial thought was, “who is this racist, xenophobic idiot riding around with a flag-pole sized flag flowing off the back of their jeep?”

Then it dawned on me that if I, a proud American, now look at the flag with a negative connotation, what do other people think? What does it symbolize to everyone else? Certainly not a democracy, and not freedom. Before the election, the Republicans questioned the legitimacy of our electoral process, after the election, Democrats question it. So at some point in the past year, most Americans have questioned if we are truly a democracy.  And even though we are all still American, are we proud to be an American?

In the past year, Americans turned our backs on decency. Regardless of how people voted, we all watched Trump speak, we all read articles about him, we all googled him. Sometime in the past year, America decided that violence and anger are a good way to address people who disagree with us. 2016 was the year that we became desensitized to sexual harassment and sexual assault. And 2016 is the year we accepted mass shootings as the new normal.

This year, since I’ve heard it so much, I feel comfortable using the word pussy and not even putting an * or two in it to soften the harshness of it. This year Christians, who used to vote based on family values, agreed with the man associated with profanity, lying 85% of the time, sexual assault, multiple affairs and multiple marriages. Fiscal conservatives who prided themselves on being financially responsible, voted for the candidate who doesn’t pay taxes, filed bankruptcy numerous time leaves others to pay his tab, and threatens frivolous lawsuits at the drop of a hat.

I fear that the American Flag might suffer the same fate as the Rebel Flag, The Dixie Flag, also known as the confederate flag.  According to Wikipedia, the confederate “flag probably would have been relegated to Civil War museums if it had not been resurrected by the resurgent KKK and used by Southern Dixiecrats during the 1948 presidential election.”

As a child, I was naive enough to only associate the confederate flag with the TV show, Dukes of Hazard, but now it means so much more, and so much worse. The confederate flag is now a symbol of racism and white supremacy. At one point in time it was just associated with southern heritage, then it became the flag of choice for the KKK. The KKK endorsed the Confederate flag, just like they endorsed Donald Trump. In the past decades, the Confederate flag is seen publicly less and less because of it’s abrasiveness, well, except in South Carolina, where in 2016, they decided to fly it over the statehouse. Not only are lawmakers of South Carolina discriminatory, but proudly so, they even have a law making it illegal to burn the confederate flag. So when you consider the history of the state that still embraces the confederate flag, the Walter Scott mistrial news isn’t so shocking. It’s terrifying, but not surprising.

And most US flags aren’t even made in the US. 94% of American flags are made in China. Even confederate flags. And sure, you could be misguided enough to follow current talking points and blame China for this, but you should blame Americans. We are the ones not buying the flags that are made by our own people. China proudly puts “Made in China” on their products. We are just that lazy that we don’t read it. So don’t blame other countries when production goes over seas, blame yourself for not buying things made in America. Still have national pride? The show it. Show it with how you spend your money. Show it with how you treat other Americans. Show it with how you treat tourists and people not from here.

Even though China makes the confederate flags Americans buy, in 2015 one Chinese newspaper joked, “Is the American Civil War not over yet?” The sad part is in 2015, that was a joke, in 2016, it is a serious question to ponder. After 200 years, have we still not figured out a way to unite our United States?

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