WARNING: VITRIOLIC, LEFTIST DIATRIBE AHEAD. THOSE UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO HEAR DISSENTING OPINIONS MAY EXPERIENCE NAUSEA, HEART PALPITATIONS, SWEATING AND/OR INTERNAL BLEEDING. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN, IF UNSURE.
There are lots of things I don't like about America's new war on terrorism. You can start that catalog of distasteful things with the actual 9/11 attack. That sucked. Then the media coverage. What was more painful: watching the planes crash into the WTC towers or listening to weeping talking heads? As bad as those were, there is one thing that really sticks in my craw: the narrowing of public debate on this issue.
There are several reasons why bombing the holy hell of Kabul might prevent future attacks. There are several reasons why the violent US response will promote more terrorism. Where is the debate on this? Why is the media rallying around George W.? It's not like he was suddenly elected by majority of Americans. He's still a few eggs short of a dozen and his speech writers still getting their material from Julia Roberts films (or asprin commercials, I can't tell the difference).
Part of this narrowing of public discourse manifests in looking the other way while petty merchants sell American flag junk. We've all seen this crap by now: pens sporting flags with "United We Stand", Asian restaurant flyer's with a prominent Old Glory, news casters with blue (and optionally red and white) ribbons, and gas-chugging SUV's flying tatter flags. The list goes on. Does this sudden display of patriotism (which now seems to be fadding) seem superficial and devoid of meaning? Of course it does. But, I don't really have a lot of spleen for these media-controlled sheep that can't see through this diversion. Instead, I direct my wrath towards that lowest layer of social scum that markets chinsy flag crap toward those confused and battered sheep.
Before I get too many of those heart-felt, but misplaced "Buddy, my daddy died for the flag" emails, remember that American freedom is the right to have opinions that wrankle the majority. Let's not confuse freedom with a flag. One is an ideal and the other is often made of a generic polymer. The former is far more important than the later.
Whatever freedoms we enjoy in this country should be excersized with a modicum of taste. If you jumped into the flag business, or as I call it the petty jingoist trade, after September 11, you're a craven scumbag. You are not helping America heal; you are just another money-sucking leech feeding at the fatted calf of the American wallet.
Symbolism is not action. We most certainly need real action now and a long-term plan for the future.
Oh, a flag-etiquette tip for those new flag owners: take your flags down at sunset or during foul weather. Check out this site for more information.