Do you have a flag?

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Do you have a flag?

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Flags have been a part of human history for hundreds of years and they have been used in wars, peace talks and sporting events all around the globe. But what is so important about this symbolic image that represents nations, groups and clubs that gives it so much respect but also has the power to cause massive controversy? 

Discussions about Americans and their culture have always intrigued and interested me, you may have noticed this from my other postings about my resentment of some aspects of society but when it comes to being patriotic Americans are some of the strangest people in the world. Talking today in my class we hit upon a point that had occurred to me before and I have always found it rather strange; when you ask an American, in America where they are from they will almost always give you a heritage answer such an “I’m Irish” or “I’m Puerto Rican” they never say oh I’m from this state or this town etc (Unless they’re from Texas, then they always say they are a proud Texan).

As soon as an American leaves the comfort of their own sofa and travels to another country,
(I know it sounds unlikely because we all know Americans don’t like to leave the comfort of their TV dinners) then they almost immediately become a walking megaphone constantly referring to  themselves an American citizen, draped in a star spangled banner, singing Amazing Grace and claiming that they know their rights.

My point is that how do you define ‘American’? The country itself was founded and settled by immigrants who albeit slaughtered the natives and gave them shoddy land to build casinos on, but the heritage itself is divided by the people in the north who fly the Stars and Stripes and the people who fly the old Confederates flag in the south. Just to refresh everyone’s memories, we’re talking about the official national flag that was used to represent the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Which you know was that fiddly period of time when the South was passionately trying to keep slavery legal as a means of economic prosperity for all of the white plantation owners. I have heard how people feel that Confederate flag is no longer representative of slavery, and how it now embodies and represents “Southern pride and heritage.”

Not only is “Southern pride” rooted in highly problematic histories, but it’s also reflective of modern-day racism and injustices. It’s especially strange that for $11.99 you can buy a T-shirt boasting the Southern Confederacy just a couple of months after George Zimmerman was found not guilty for second-degree murder and manslaughter. Because in the great state of Florida (a state whose flag was modelled after the original Confederate flag) the “stand your ground” law protects an armed citizen who was instructed by police not to leave his car and follow the “suspect” instead of an unarmed teenager who was profiled on the basis of race.

Ah, America.

USA

The whole idea of a flag to me is strange, I mean back in the time of the great Empires people would literally just sail around the world, pop a flag in the ground and claim the land to be their rightful property. The British Empire is a prime example of this, we just turned up to the Americas, India and Australia and claimed the land to be ours by popping a small Union Jack into the ground. The locals would complain and say that the land was rightly theirs but unfortunately they didn’t have guns. No Flag, No guns, No country.
The Americans had a wonderful term during the move to the West which was ‘Manifest Destiny’ they believed it was their god given right to travel across the continent to settle the land by any means necessary even if they had to kill whoever tried to get in their way.

"Manifest Destiny" 1872 Artist John Gast painted a popular scene of people moving west that captured the view of Americans at the time. Called "Spirit of the Frontier" and widely distributed as an engraving portrayed settlers moving west, guided and protected by a goddess-like figure of Columbia and aided by technology (railways, telegraphs), driving Native Americans and bison into obscurity.

“Manifest Destiny” 1872 Artist John Gast painted a popular scene of people moving west that captured the view of Americans at the time. Called “Spirit of the Frontier” and widely distributed as an engraving portrayed settlers moving west, guided and protected by a goddess-like figure of Columbia and aided by technology (railways, telegraphs), driving Native Americans and bison into obscurity.

The flag has, in this modern era seemed to have lost it’s original authority and status. I mean people wonder around with flags on their hats, tee shirts and scarves almost as if the flag has been commercialised completely. It strange how something so significant as the Stars and Stripes can connote both freedom and commercialism.

Flags are an integral part to any nation and it’s heritage, it gives people the opportunity to show how passionate they are towards their nation or any other affiliation. The only problem is when people try to cause offence with their right to fly a flag. There are stories from all over the world of conflict caused by flags and what they stand for, especially in the southern parts of the United States with white people flying the confederates flag in historically black neighbourhoods. Stories like this don’t often get much press, but can you imagine if a black family in a wealthy predominantly white area of Westchester decided to fly a colossal Black Panthers flag above their home?

Oh the horror…