Put Away the Flags

AbookamongstthemanyAbookamongstthemany Posts: 8,209
edited July 2006 in A Moving Train
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0703-29.htm

Published on Monday, July 3, 2006 by the Progressive
Put Away the Flags
by Howard Zinn

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours -- huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction -- what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

That self-deception started early.

When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession."

When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day."

On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our "Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence." After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: "We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country."

It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war.

We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, "to civilize and Christianize" the Filipino people.

As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our secretary of war, was saying: "The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness."

We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.

Yet they are victims, too, of our government's lies.

How many times have we heard President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tell the troops that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for "liberty," for "democracy"?

One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail last year that God speaks through him.

We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.
If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
-Oscar Wilde
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Comments

  • LizardLizard So CalPosts: 11,913
    i'm gonna fly mine :D
    Is it over yet? #ITMFA
  • CommyCommy Posts: 4,984
    Lizard wrote:
    i'm gonna fly mine :D
    I like abooks idea better, or Zinns actually. Thanks for the article C.
    There's plenty for all.

    You can either repeat conventional platitudes or else sound like you're from Neptune. -chomsky


    The weight of the world don't seem so bad...


    I love you Cate. always will.
  • Commy wrote:
    I like abooks idea better, or Zinns actually. Thanks for the article C.

    Thanks Rob :) I wish I could take credit for such wisdom. :p

    It would be nice if people would reply with thoughts about the piece instead of these sarcastic one liners. This place is for discussion so at least let me now why you don't agree, ya know?
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • hippiemomhippiemom Posts: 3,326
    Got my flag ready to go.
    "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." ~ MLK, 1963
  • CommyCommy Posts: 4,984
    Thanks Rob :) I wish I could take credit for such wisdom. :p

    It would be nice if people would reply with thoughts about the piece instead of these sarcastic one liners. This place is for discussion so at least let me now why you don't agree, ya know?
    Yeah. "I'm flying mine" really doesn't say much...why a person disagrees would be nice.
    There's plenty for all.

    You can either repeat conventional platitudes or else sound like you're from Neptune. -chomsky


    The weight of the world don't seem so bad...


    I love you Cate. always will.
  • CommyCommy Posts: 4,984
    hippiemom wrote:
    Got my flag ready to go.


    That's the one...nice.
    There's plenty for all.

    You can either repeat conventional platitudes or else sound like you're from Neptune. -chomsky


    The weight of the world don't seem so bad...


    I love you Cate. always will.
  • "These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power"

    And Howard Zinn, who would have nothing to say without them.
    Pronounced: (mo-KAY-lay em-BEM-bay)

    "So I made a mistake, ONE mistake, can't a man start over?! DO I HAVE TO KEEP PAYING?! Maybe I should make another mistake... maybe I should make two."

  • El_KabongEl_Kabong Posts: 4,141
    "These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power"

    And Howard Zinn, who would have nothing to say without them.


    i honestly don't think he'd care much...but anyways, he's so charismatic and bright i'm sure he'd manage to get somewhere w/o it.
    standin above the crowd
    he had a voice that was strong and loud and
    i swallowed his facade cos i'm so
    eager to identify with
    someone above the crowd
    someone who seemed to feel the same
    someone prepared to lead the way
  • CommyCommy Posts: 4,984
    "These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power"

    And Howard Zinn, who would have nothing to say without them.

    The day dissidents have no reason for dissent is the day we are are all fighting for.
    There's plenty for all.

    You can either repeat conventional platitudes or else sound like you're from Neptune. -chomsky


    The weight of the world don't seem so bad...


    I love you Cate. always will.
  • "These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power"

    And Howard Zinn, who would have nothing to say without them.

    Puh-lease....people like Zinn are few and far between. He is a gifted writer and speaker who puts his actions where his mouth is. There are plenty of left leaning intellectuals in this world but there is only 1 Howard Zinn.
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • Commy wrote:
    The day dissidents have no reason for dissent is the day we are are all fighting for.


    very true

    and there is always room for improvements as we evolve.
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • applenutapplenut Posts: 67
    hippiemom wrote:
    Got my flag ready to go.


    I don't get that flag. Seems pretty stupid to me. It doesn't even make sense.
  • applenut wrote:
    I don't get that flag. Seems pretty stupid to me. It doesn't even make sense.


    it shows who our govt really represents

    makes perfect sense to me.
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • decides2dreamdecides2dream Posts: 14,928
    Commy wrote:
    Yeah. "I'm flying mine" really doesn't say much...why a person disagrees would be nice.


    what makes you think lizard disagrees? while obviously i cannot speak for her, i think she was merely sharing what she plans to do....and i really don't think it was sarcasm either, just that article or no...she's making a choice for herself to display her flag.

    i thought it a very good article, good points....but yes, i still will be displaying my flag as well. does this mean i disagree with mr. zinn? not really. i think he makes excellent points, as ever. however, just b/c we are a large and prosperous nation, to me, does not mean there can be no nationalisitc pride. i do not think patriotism requires arrogance. is there some? sure. do i think most americans feel that way? no. do i feel an arrogant pride for our country? absolutely not.

    tomorrow - well today, is a national holiday, a celebration of our independence. to me, all good things. i display my flag in honor of that...in honor of all my relatives who served in the army and navy...in honor of my father and his WWII service...of his memory and the flag presented to my mother at his funeral. there is deep meaning in the flag for me...and while i see the burning of it as a great display of dissent to the government, i also do not think merely omitting its display on a national holiday as good or bad. i do NOT display my flag in support of our current administration, i display it as a symbol of a great celebration for our country. hopefully in time, and a new president, we can once again feel some pride in who we are as a nation, and not feel as if we cannot be liberal-minded and patriotic, that our symbols are not valuble to display, to enjoy being a nation of the world.

    so yes, i am going to fly mine too.
    Stay with me...
    Let's just breathe...


  • catefrancescatefrances Posts: 28,963
    that howard zinn. what a party pooper. ;)
    hear my name
    take a good look
    this could be the day
    hold my hand
    lie beside me
    i just need to say
  • what makes you think lizard disagrees? while obviously i cannot speak for her, i think she was merely sharing what she plans to do....and i really don't think it was sarcasm either, just that article or no...she's making a choice for herself to display her flag.

    i thought it a very good article, good points....but yes, i still will be displaying my flag as well. does this mean i disagree with mr. zinn? not really. i think he makes excellent points, as ever. however, just b/c we are a large and prosperous nation, to me, does not mean there can be no nationalisitc pride. i do not think patriotism requires arrogance. is there some? sure. do i think most americans feel that way? no. do i feel an arrogant pride for our country? absolutely not.

    tomorrow - well today, is a national holiday, a celebration of our independence. to me, all good things. i display my flag in honor of that...in honor of all my relatives who served in the army and navy...in honor of my father and his WWII service...of his memory and the flag presented to my mother at his funeral. there is deep meaning in the flag for me...and while i see the burning of it as a great display of dissent to the government, i also do not think merely omitting its display on a national holiday as good or bad. i do NOT display my flag in support of our current administration, i display it as a symbol of a great celebration for our country. hopefully in time, and a new president, we can once again feel some pride in who we are as a nation, and not feel as if we cannot be liberal-minded and patriotic, that our symbols are not valuble to display, to enjoy being a nation of the world.

    so yes, i am going to fly mine too.

    well at least you took the time to explain your position.
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • applenutapplenut Posts: 67
    it shows who our govt really represents

    makes perfect sense to me.


    Ignore my username, but Apple?

    A company that was formed by two American hippies and has been a prime example of American entreprenuership, a strong supporter of the democratic party, a leader in environmental friendly packaging, manufacturing, and recycling, and one that has fought a monopoly similar to how Pearl Jam tried to fight Ticketmaster?

    That's not the only logo on that flag that makes no sense but it's the best example.
  • CommyCommy Posts: 4,984
    what makes you think lizard disagrees? while obviously i cannot speak for her, i think she was merely sharing what she plans to do....and i really don't think it was sarcasm either, just that article or no...she's making a choice for herself to display her flag.

    i thought it a very good article, good points....but yes, i still will be displaying my flag as well. does this mean i disagree with mr. zinn? not really. i think he makes excellent points, as ever. however, just b/c we are a large and prosperous nation, to me, does not mean there can be no nationalisitc pride. i do not think patriotism requires arrogance. is there some? sure. do i think most americans feel that way? no. do i feel an arrogant pride for our country? absolutely not.

    tomorrow - well today, is a national holiday, a celebration of our independence. to me, all good things. i display my flag in honor of that...in honor of all my relatives who served in the army and navy...in honor of my father and his WWII service...of his memory and the flag presented to my mother at his funeral. there is deep meaning in the flag for me...and while i see the burning of it as a great display of dissent to the government, i also do not think merely omitting its display on a national holiday as good or bad. i do NOT display my flag in support of our current administration, i display it as a symbol of a great celebration for our country. hopefully in time, and a new president, we can once again feel some pride in who we are as a nation, and not feel as if we cannot be liberal-minded and patriotic, that our symbols are not valuble to display, to enjoy being a nation of the world.

    so yes, i am going to fly mine too.



    I just said an explanation would be nice...which at least you have done. Fly your flag, have a good time.

    just remember, the flag that truly represents the US is here http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v230/hippiemom/misc/bigcorporateflag.gif, as Hippiemom so graciously pointed out.
    There's plenty for all.

    You can either repeat conventional platitudes or else sound like you're from Neptune. -chomsky


    The weight of the world don't seem so bad...


    I love you Cate. always will.
  • decides2dreamdecides2dream Posts: 14,928
    Commy wrote:
    I just said an explanation would be nice...which at least you have done. Fly your flag, have a good time.

    just remember, the flag that truly represents the US is here http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v230/hippiemom/misc/bigcorporateflag.gif, as Hippiemom so graciously pointed out.


    yes, i saw her post...and her flag...and it's great. for me though, that may be how it is...but that is not how i feel about it, and so yes...i am happy to put my flag out. personally, i would not let the current administration take away from my enjoyment of our national holidays, nor ever diminish how i feel about a symbol that meant a great deal to my father, an italian immigrant...so yea....bush can go fuck off, and i will happily hang my flag for the people i care about, not as some sign of support for our current government. the government may represent that flag as of now....but that corporate logo flag does not represent the population, so to me...therein lies the difference. i can seperate my sense of patriotism from our current government...i have to....b/c thankfully, this administration will be gone - although not soon enough....but we will all still be here, and hopefully building a better tomorrow.
    Stay with me...
    Let's just breathe...


  • yes, i saw her post...and her flag...and it's great. for me though, that may be how it is...but that is not how i feel about it, and so yes...i am happy to put my flag out. personally, i would not let the current administration take away from my enjoyment of our national holidays, nor ever diminish how i feel about a symbol that meant a great deal to my father, an italian immigrant...so yea....bush can go fuck off, and i will happily hang my flag for the people i care about, not as some sign of support for our current government. the government may represent that flag as of now....but that corporate logo flag does not represent the population, so to me...therein lies the difference. i can seperate my sense of patriotism from our current government...i have to....b/c thankfully, this administration will be gone - although not soon enough....but we will all still be here, and hopefully building a better tomorrow.

    it's nowhere close to being only about the bush admin.
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • catefrancescatefrances Posts: 28,963
    in my opinion, the best national flag in the world is the one belonging to WALES. it has a dragon on it. how cool is that?
    hear my name
    take a good look
    this could be the day
    hold my hand
    lie beside me
    i just need to say
  • If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • in my opinion, the best national flag in the world is the one belonging to WALES. it has a dragon on it. how cool is that?


    dragons are indeed spiffy. :D
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • decides2dreamdecides2dream Posts: 14,928
    it's nowhere close to being only about the bush admin.

    i realize that. thus why in my first post i mentioned that i personally see nothing wrong with having a nationalistic pride, even as a large nation...on that point i do disagree with zinn. i understand where it all stems from, but i do think it's possible to feel a part of the golbal community, to not isolate oneself as a country or behave in an arrogant fashion, above others....and yet still maintain some national pride. even as an individual, i think it is very doable to have a sense of pride for oneself, and yet empathy and a deep sense of caring for others. so yea, i was merely elaborating my personal thoughts on the subject...i thought that was what we did here.
    Stay with me...
    Let's just breathe...


  • Anyway, the message is bullshit. Switzerland held Nazi gold, Norway gave us the word "quisling," and Costa Rica was frequently run by military dictatorships. Being small and weak doesn't reflect the moral character of a society. Did not having nuclear weapons stop the Hutus from slaughtering Tutsis? How powerful was Cambodia? Decent patriotism should never be confused with the fanaticism that will drive the weak to persecute the weaker. I say love your country, and do your part to keep it on the right track. May the United States never use its nuclear weapons, or its fleets of ships, its squadrons of jets, or send its soldiers into combat. May the rest of the world do the same. It won't happen. Not because people's ties to nationalism are too strong or twisted, but because of what humanity is. If we swore our allegiance to humanity, we would swear to the tribal warfare, murder, petty theft, and brutality that have chacterized all of history and are human nature. Nations and societies are founded out of ideals; ideals that not all mankind will accept. Nations and societies therefore need borders, and internal consistency, characteristics which may be difficult to maintain, but are necessary. What would a nation be if it didn't distinguish itself from the rest of the world? Or declares, and resigns itself to accept, ideals which are antithetical to its existence? It would die. I say we need to celebrate and enforce the idea that our nation is different from, and morally superior to, the barbaric powers of history.

    Happy Independence Day.
    Pronounced: (mo-KAY-lay em-BEM-bay)

    "So I made a mistake, ONE mistake, can't a man start over?! DO I HAVE TO KEEP PAYING?! Maybe I should make another mistake... maybe I should make two."

  • i realize that. thus why in my first post i mentioned that i personally see nothing wrong with having a nationalistic pride, even as a large nation...on that point i do disagree with zinn. i understand where it all stems from, but i do think it's possible to feel a part of the golbal community, to not isolate oneself as a country or behave in an arrogant fashion, above others....and yet still maintain some national pride. even as an individual, i think it is very doable to have a sense of pride for oneself, and yet empathy and a deep sense of caring for others. so yea, i was merely elaborating my personal thoughts on the subject...i thought that was what we did here.

    no one said anything about not 'elaborating your personal thoughts'. I just thought you seemed to think we weren't displaying our flags bc of the current situation/admin and for many of us it goes way deeper than the last 5 years.
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • decides2dreamdecides2dream Posts: 14,928
    no one said anything about not 'elaborating your personal thoughts'. I just thought you seemed to think we weren't displaying our flags bc of the current situation/admin and for many of us it goes way deeper than the last 5 years.

    not at all. i was merely explaining my own thoughts, not questioning yours or others. i do get it, and while i support a lot of it, i also have my own views that don't perfectly align with all of the thoughts presented...so yea, was just elaborating.
    Stay with me...
    Let's just breathe...


  • El_KabongEl_Kabong Posts: 4,141
    Anyway, the message is bullshit. Switzerland held Nazi gold, Norway gave us the word "quisling," and Costa Rica was frequently run by military dictatorships. Being small and weak doesn't reflect the moral character of a society. Did not having nuclear weapons stop the Hutus from slaughtering Tutsis? How powerful was Cambodia? Decent patriotism should never be confused with the fanaticism that will drive the weak to persecute the weaker. I say love your country, and do your part to keep it on the right track. May the United States never use its nuclear weapons, or its fleets of ships, its squadrons of jets, or send its soldiers into combat. May the rest of the world do the same. It won't happen. Not because people's ties to nationalism are too strong or twisted, but because of what humanity is. If we swore our allegiance to humanity, we would swear to the tribal warfare, murder, petty theft, and brutality that have chacterized all of history and are human nature. Nations and societies are founded out of ideals; ideals that not all mankind will accept. Nations and societies therefore need borders, and internal consistency, characteristics which may be difficult to maintain, but are necessary. What would a nation be if it didn't distinguish itself from the rest of the world? Or declares, and resigns itself to accept, ideals which are antithetical to its existence? It would die. I say we need to celebrate and enforce the idea that our nation is different from, and morally superior to, the barbaric powers of history.

    Happy Independence Day.


    you are picking a tiny part of the article and trying to use it as a basis to discredit the entire piece.

    the problem is we, as a society, don't want to accept WHY we are so prosperous. we love the benefits of it but we don't really care about the repurcussions we have on the rest of the world that allows us to achieve that 'prosperity'.

    you mention cambodia...at the same time we were selling arms to indonesia who were using them to commit genocide in east timor...same fucking time that pol pot was in power. what about the mass graves in panama to get an old cia agent who stopped following orders out of power? what about us overthrowing a democratic government in iran b/c they wanted to nationalize THEIR oil and installing a ruthless thug which lead way to the nuts being in power now? what about us turning nicaragua from one of the strongest economies in the region to one of the poorest in the world b/c they had this crazy idea that their land and resources shuold be owned by them? what about the death squads we installed in el salvador? how did we get hawaii again? how did we get florida? wasn't bin laden working for the cia when he created al qaeda?

    maybe i'm a party pooper but i choose to live in reality, it goes from the earliest days of the nation alllllll the way to now...i believe in the potential of this nation but i have yet to see it honestly worked towards for very long...one step forward and 20 back.

    however, i also understand pll holding different meanings of the flag and celebrating/honoring that and that is fine
    standin above the crowd
    he had a voice that was strong and loud and
    i swallowed his facade cos i'm so
    eager to identify with
    someone above the crowd
    someone who seemed to feel the same
    someone prepared to lead the way
  • El_KabongEl_Kabong Posts: 4,141
    not at all. i was merely explaining my own thoughts, not questioning yours or others. i do get it, and while i support a lot of it, i also have my own views that don't perfectly align with all of the thoughts presented...so yea, was just elaborating.


    fair enough, but this seemed like you were taking issue w/ something

    "i was merely elaborating my personal thoughts on the subject...i thought that was what we did here"
    standin above the crowd
    he had a voice that was strong and loud and
    i swallowed his facade cos i'm so
    eager to identify with
    someone above the crowd
    someone who seemed to feel the same
    someone prepared to lead the way
  • catefrancescatefrances Posts: 28,963
    El_Kabong wrote:
    you mention cambodia...at the same time we were selling arms to indonesia who were using them to commit genocide in east timor...same fucking time that pol pot was in power............

    and when the vietnamese removed the khmer rouge from power, they were turned into international pariahs thanks to the united states and their inability to think rational or objectively. the khmer rouge were allowed to keep their seat at the united nations despite the genocide committed by the regime of pol pot and yet vietnam went unrecognised.
    hear my name
    take a good look
    this could be the day
    hold my hand
    lie beside me
    i just need to say
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