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Ideology and the American Flag


We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.”                                  ~Justice William J. Brennan, July 3,1989


By: Greg Halvorson

I know of nothing as aesthetically pleasing as the American flag. If, by way of contrast, Barack Obama “serves as a blank screen onto which people of vastly different political stripes project their views,” the American flag serves as a screen whose fabric embodies politics over time.

As a conservative American, the flag of my country evokes in me emotion, as well as reverence, borne of pivotal battles abroad, as well as civic events here at home.

Fifty stars representing fifty states adjoining the bands of Colonies, the flag evokes history and is dazzling in design. Objectively, it draws the eye, pleasing it like art. It is masterful art which nonetheless , as art is wont spark debate.

Indeed, the Left (progressives, socialists, Marxists, liberals) and the Right (conservatives, Jeffersonians, Reaganites) tug at opposite ends of its fabric, at times literally, in an ideological struggle. Nothing is absolute, but the Left, notedly, has disdain for institutions – the Christian pulpit, the private ballot, the armed forces – which hinder that which it can “do” via government. If it limits power, stifling bureaucracy, the institution is scolded and assailed with invective. And so, in a sense, Old Glory is institutional, as it stands for justice, liberty and natural rights. Conservatives, believing it good and wholesome, revere it, while the Left, because of this paradigm, is irreverent and base, even hostile, toward the flag.

Consider the recent “occupy movement.” OWS Portland paired students with annealed rabble to declare itself “the 99%,” and at various times, burned the flag, danced on it, and dragged it behind them. Asked why, one marcher declared, “America is stolen land,” failing to see the irony in his Nike vest, Verizon cell-phone, and Levi’s jeans.

It was “anti-capitalism” at work, though certainly work blinkered to executions in Russia, Cuba, China, and Vietnam. One wonders whether these more “preferred” nations would be protective of their flags being dragged past public buildings. These are the same privileged youth who sport Che Guevera tees , (because who doesn’t love a bloodthirsty coward!)  between yoga sessions and calls for “social justice.”

They hate the flag because the flag stands for virtue. Moreover, it espouses totalitarianism as if Stalin and Mao were stymied by westerners too mired in values, too committed to freedom, and too devoted to God, to grasp murder’s role in centrally-planned blight.

Occupy Wall Street isn’t the Tea Party, of course. Several of the latter confronted flag-stompers. Waltzing through “99-vile,” as one speller put it (Ville, son, you mean ville…), I witnessed more than one engagement – caustic eruptions at times nose-to-nose , wherein Occu-Leech-Person turned “Occu-Idiot”.  In order to oppose something, shouldn’t one grasp it?

Now, Does government expand or shrink, I asked an occupier. Answer: “Weare the ninety-nine percent!” Debate occurred elsewhere, of course – on-line – which isn’t to say it improved. The internet, fostering anonymity, is perfect for doctrinaires and assorted misfits attuned to bloviation in foil hats. We’re broke – $16 T- in the hole , and yet leftists point to market distortion and the monetization of debt as if Jefferson, himself, enshrined them into law. They rail against perceived injustices resulting, they claim, from a hash of corporate greed and lack of oversight—if only government would step in and do something!

What? Well, for starters, distort the market further, misallocate capital, and continue to pick “winners” by dint of regulation and redistribution of wealth. Conservatives argue that erosiveness is the problem that America isn’t flawed but rather subverted by anti-Constitutionalists. They’re right; and as their Facebook pages attest, “they love America”.

Tiny flags in tiny squares (icons) are the social media equivalent of lit banners on poles and wholly a product of Burkean sensibilities. The animus in social media between conservatives and liberals, traditionalists and progressives cannot be overstated.

There’s venom. Conservatives, asserting that individuals create wealth, reject blind rushes toward tomorrow, especially when assailed by caterwauls of “crisis.” What remains from these clashes is bi-polarism. Consider Adrian Cronauer. The inspiration for the movie Good Morning,

Vietnam, Cronauer says of the flag: “The American flag represents all of us and all the values we hold sacred.” Now if we want to talk percentages, that’s prone to get to 99 faster than a commune full of Billy Ayers wannabes.

By way of contrast, take a look (briefly) at Janeane Garofolo. The inspiration for nothing, she says of the flag: “When I see an American flag, I go, ‘Oh my God, you’re insulting me.’” $5 to $10, that’s 1%. And yet the 1% is in power. There exists no middle-ground between leftists and libertarians. The Left, however – through government, media, and public schools – has spread throughout society. While Garofolo offends anyone to the right of George Soros, her attitude has a farm-team.

Indeed, the other day, I attended a football game where, astounded, I watched students ignore tradition. Is it too much to ask for a high school band to be heard? Apparently so, for up went the band, and down went two centuries of homage to bravery. It was as if they were deaf to the music, blind to the flag, and oblivious to their souls. Worse, no adult had the wherewithal to stop it, nor the spine to thunder, “Quiet!” Their grandfathers would have thundered! At what point teens stopped coming to attention during “The Star-spangled Banner” is debatable, but in today’s America, there seems to be precedent. The question is whether antipathy follows apathy.

Will Garofolo become baseline? This is no longer deviant in the culture.

… And, apparently, when “Old Glory” is inglorious, it emboldens the Left.


Greg Halvorson is the founder of The Conservative Hammer and hosts Freedom Warrior Radio on Blog Talk Radio. Follow him on Twitter at @GHalv.


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