THEY'RE Dicks! And here I spent two days trying to figure out what to say about Lapelgate.
In my defense, Mr. Edroso is smarter, more savvy, and younger, which means among other things that his recollection of the Flag Decal is more theoretical than my own; I was a surly, anti-war, anti-nuke, anti-haircut teen when those things became the must-own accessory for your 1970 Ford Country Squire, and I took it personally. Which means my post turned into a thesis right away, something that wasn't helped by the fact that the first partisan use of the flag that I recall was the Impeach Earl Warren billboard the Birch Society put up across the street from the Track in Speedway in the early 60s. To my ten-year-old nose he thing had a distinct odor of violence, like they planned to plant the thing in the poor man's chest as a way of marking territory. It's another sad commentary on a society that pisses its Bloomers at the thought of a child glimpsing a human breast but gleefully allows a national symbol to be linked with the sort of partisan disagreements that frequently wind up with someone under the treads of a tank.
There is, of course, the other thing, namely that beyond freely co-opting Old Glory for partisan political purposes the flag idolaters routinely disrespect it, the primary example here being that the flag is not a decorative item and doesn't belong on civilian clothing. (For that matter, "uniform" in this case means "Army, Navy, Air Force, Firefighter..." and not "Ladies and Gentlemen...YOUR ST. LOUIS RAMMMMMMS!" Y'know, counting the refs there's roughly ninety men on the field every Sunday with flags on their chests, sleeves, helmets and possibly socks, in an average of sixteen locations for an average of sixteen weeks, and yet when one of those men--Pat Tillman, that is--actually volunteered to serve that flag the whole fuckin' country was dumbfounded!) I would have been tickled to death to hear Barack Obama say, "The flag isn't a piece of dime-store jewelry, and everyone who wears it like one is showing disrespect."
I have another problem with The Flag, and I've been a secret sufferer for years: aesthetically, it sucks. The opposite ends of the visible spectrum rarely go together well, and horizontal stripes!? Also there's that violation of the fundamental design principle One Flag At A Time. The whole upper-left-hand-corner thing doesn't work for me, nor the pennant-within-a-flag bit like Cuba, or Djibouti, or The Bahamas. Greece looks like a test for astigmatism. Personally, if I'm going to get nabbed by a Press Gang I'm hoping it's Belgian. There's a flag looks good on a beret.
The best thing about The Flag is the bold graphic elements put us near the top when it comes to bunting, but even there we should acknowledge that Liberia, with that Jasper Johns crossed with Folk Art thing going on, went us one better. as they can just recycle old flags for the purpose if they want to.
I think it's time to admit we shoulda stuck with Don't Tread On Me, and get to work doing what we do best: slapping a new label on things. If we don't want to go with that retro-snake thing, what about tie-dye? I'm not sure we invented it, but we sure perfected it. Every flag would be different, reflecting the whole E Pluribus Unum thing, but instantly recognizable as well. Plus every faux-hippie would become an instant patriot. And to keep the dicks happy we could switch from Red White and Blue to Woodland Cammo so they could wear it on everything.