Look at the flag of the United States of America:
What comes to mind?
Maybe words like “freedom”, “liberty”, and “pride” pop into your head. But I’m guessing for a lot of people, concepts like militarism, conservatism, and ‘murica also spring to mind.
The flag has obviously been a part of our nation’s history since our country’s founding, but whether we want to admit it or not, the conservative right has appropriated the symbol of the US flag and use it for their own means. The devastation of 9/11 rewired how we think about the flag (see Raising The Flag At Ground Zero), and the Bush administration latched onto that symbol in the years after 9/11 to justify war. To be against war was to be against America and the flag (think “Never forget” and “These colors don’t run!”). The far right continues to hide behind the flag as they pursue an increasingly un-American agenda.
The time has come to change the way we perceive the American flag.
This is a branding problem.
Most moderate and liberal people have historically been less overt in their displays of patriotism. Fervent, in-your-face nationalism (“We’re #1! We’re #1!”) just isn’t that attractive to those who recognize that civilization is not a competition, but rather a delicate system that requires nuance, evenhandedness, collaboration, and cooperation at a global scale. That’s one theory why many people generally avoid the kinds of flag-branded items you tend to find at interstate rest stops.
But here’s the thing: Trump and his ilk have abandoned American values and the American flag, and have instead rallied around a shitty baseball cap, Pepe the frog, and flirtations with Nazism and the Russians. And of course their agenda, words, and actions are blatantly and increasingly un-American.
The American flag is lying on the ground, waiting for us to pick it up.
Own the flag
The overwhelming majority of people in this country (and throughout the world) believe that all people are created equal, and who believe in the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Whether you are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, or Independent, these are values we all share. The flag belongs to all the people believe in fundamental American values like equality, freedom, justice, and inclusiveness.
I’ve heard from so many people that despite their disappointment and anger over the current state of affairs, they’ve never felt more patriotic. People are engaging in civic life like never before, paying closer attention to the news, and offering support to one another. They are doing this not in blind opposition to Trump, but rather in support for the principles that make up our country’s DNA. It is in this spirit we must now we wrap ourselves in our already-great country’s flag.
When people look at the flag, they should immediately think of the millions of people who have taken to the streets to stand up for the ideals of our country. From here on out, every protest, packed town hall meeting, and gathering should be star-spangled and decked out in red, white, and blue. I’m talking full-on Uncle Sam mode. We need to fly our flag wide and high! People on the far right should avoid wearing or flying the flag for fear that they’ll be pegged as some “libtard snowflake”. The only people thinking about burning flags to be far-right extremists who have come in that come to see the flag as an undeniable symbol of the teeming masses of people that reject the xenophobic, undemocratic, and awful positions of the people currently in charge of our government.
The American flag needs to become the irrefutable symbol of the resistance. This may be hard to accomplish, but it’s certainly not impossible to achieve.
Introducing Raise That Flag
I created a website called Raise The Flag to help reassociate the flag with with fundamental American values.
The site lays out some immediate and easy things you can do to support stand up for our democratic values by displaying the US flag:
- Add the US flag to your profile picture on social media.
- Use the USA flag emoji 🇺🇸 in your social media handles and posts.
- Use the hashtag #raisethatflag when discussing topics involving true American values.
- Buy a flag and fly it proudly!
- Wear the flag anywhere you go, including work, errands, rallies, and town hall meetings.
- Share the website with your family, friends, and followers who care about freedom and equality.
Let’s flood our social media feeds and our streets with our beautiful flag in support of our fundamental American principles. These are simple and easy gestures, but I truly believe they can have powerful effects. We can change the course of the collective conversation, which is absolutely critical in an age where flippant tweets are changing the course of history.
I love America and I know you do too. So let’s #raisethatflag in support of our, equality, freedom, and justice for all!