Gaius Publius: The American Flag and What It Stands For

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive  here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

A scene from the Hard Hat Riot, March 8, 1970 (source)

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave
— “The Stars-Spangled Banner

Bottom line first. The main point of this piece is — we should stop pretending.

In light of the recent protests by black athletes during the playing of “The StarsSpangled Banner” before football games — the “stars-spangled banner” being the American flag, so-named in Francis Scott Key’s memorable (and musically deficient) American national anthem — it seems fair to ask, What does the American flag stand for?

Let me offer several answers.

A Symbol of Abolition and Militarily Forced Unity

During the Civil War, the American flag went from being a simple banner to a powerful symbol of the Union (and the union) cause (my emphasis throughout):

The modern meaning of the flag was forged in December 1860, when Major Robert Anderson moved the U.S. garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Author Adam Goodheart argues this was the opening move of the American Civil War, and the flag was used throughout northern states to symbolize American nationalism and rejection of secessionism. [emphasis added]

In the prologue to his book 1861, Goodheart writes:

Before that day [in December 1860], the flag had served mostly as a military ensign or a convenient marking of American territory, flown from forts, embassies, and ships, and displayed on special occasions like American Independence day. But in the weeks after Major Anderson’s surprising stand, it became something different. Suddenly the Stars and Stripes flew—as it does today, and especially as it did after the September 11 attacks in 2001—from houses, from storefronts, from churches; above the village greens and college quads. For the first time American flags were mass-produced rather than individually stitched and even so, manufacturers could not keep up with demand. As the long winter of 1861 turned into spring, that old flag meant something new. The abstraction of the Union cause was transfigured into a physical thing: strips of cloth that millions of people would fight for, and many thousands die for.

Note two things about this transformation from flag to symbol. First, it represents military conquest — originally the reconquest of the South, “strips of cloth that millions of people would fight for, and many thousands die for.”

Second, those conquests are always presented as defensive — in this case, “preserving the Union” as opposed to re-annexing territory whose inhabitants were exercising, however good or ill their reasons, the right of self-determination, a prime example of which was the nation’s own Revolutionary War of 1776.

The Flag of a Warrior Nation

To expand the second point: We like to think of our warrior nation’s wars as fought in defense — with the flag representing that brave defensive posture — but I can’t think of a single defensive war after the War of 1776, save World War II (a war whose causative attack, some historians argue, we invited).

The War of 1812 was, in large part, a failed U.S. attempt to annex Canada while the British were tied up with Napoleon on the European continent (see also below). The Mexican American War was fought, ultimately, as a result of a dispute over Texas, which had seceded (irony alert) from Mexico and was subsequently welcomed into the U.S. In other words, a war of territorial expansion.

In the Civil War, the U.S. government took the position of the government of Mexico a decade and a half earlier and fought to disallow the secession of Southern states from the national government. One could call that war, among other things, a war to retain territory. Of course, the Civil War was also a war to abolish slavery, but that entirely moral motive came relatively late in the discussion.

The Spanish-American War was also a war of territorial expansion, as Gore Vidal, among many others, so well elucidated. Out of that war, along with other possessions, we acquired the Spanish-speaking island of Puerto Rico, which we’re now mightily abusing.

World War I was certainly not a defensive war, whatever else it was. The sinking of the Lusitania, for example, owed as much to American banking and industrial support France and England and the resultant German blockade of England, one that ships carrying U.S-sourced war matériel refused to honor, as it owed to the barbarity of “the Hun,” however propagandistically that attack was later portrayed.

Both the Korean War and the Vietnam War were products of U.S. intervention into the Cold War in Asia, though with some differences. In Korea, the U.S. was helping South Korea (a post-World War II created nation) repel an invasion from North Korea (a similarly created nation).

In Vietnam, the U.S. and its World War II allies violated an agreement with Ho Chi Minh, who had fought with them against the Japanese, not to return Vietnam, his homeland, to French colonial rule. Vietnam was returned to the French, however, and Ho went back to war. He defeated the French in 1954, Vietnam was temporarily partitioned so the defeated French could evacuate, and unifying elections were set for 1956. Realizing that Ho Chi Minh would win overwhelmingly, the U.S. under Secretary of State John Foster Dulles allowed Vietnam south of the demilitarized zone to be declared a separate nation, and Ho again went back to war, with results that are with us today.

It goes without saying that neither of the Iraq wars were defensive, nor are the multiple places in the Middle East with insurrections we are currently bombing, droning, or supporting those (the Saudis, for example) who are doing both with our help.

What does the American flag stand for, militarily? Certainly not defending the nation from attack, since we’ve so rarely had to do it. Our enemies would say it stands for national aggression. Which leads to the next point.

A Symbol of National Obedience

Take a look at the image at the top. During the Nixon era, enemies of Vietnam War protestors and draft dodgers appropriated the flag as a symbol of their own aggression and anger — anger at “the hippies”; at free love (which to a man they envied); at “unpatriotic” protests against the nation’s wrongdoing; at anything and anyone who didn’t rejoice, in essence, in the macho, patriarchic, authoritarian demands for obedience to right-wing leaders like Richard Nixon.

That’s not an overstatement, and everyone reading this knows it, given just a little thought. Why do cops wear flags on their uniforms, for example, but not nurses? Ignore the cover-story explanations and ask, is it “national pride” and patriotism the police are expressing, or something closer to the authoritarian anger shown in the image above?

To the Black Lives Matter movement, the answer is obvious. Thus it should be to the rest of us. The obvious reason why cops wear flags is rarely stated though, so I won’t say more of it here, except to add the following: The complaint against football players who “took a knee” in protest to American racism — perpetrated in large part by aggressive, race-angry, flag-decorated police — is that they don’t “honor the flag” and what it represents.

Perhaps, unknowingly, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

So we’re back to the question — what does the American flag represent beyond its meaning as a heraldic device? What does the American flag stand for?

The answer, of course, is all of the above. Again: all of the above. We should stop pretending.

“The Stars Spangled Banner”

Which brings us back to Colin Kaepernick and the national anthem. Jonathan Schwartz (of A Tiny Revolution) astutely writes this at The Intercept in a piece subtitled “The National Anthem is a Celebration of Slavery”:

Before a preseason game on Friday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When he explained why, he only spoke about the present: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Twitter then went predictably nuts, with at least one 49ers fan burning Kaepernick’s jersey.

Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.

Few people know this because we only ever sing the first verse. But read the end of the third verse and you’ll see why “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not just a musical atrocity, it’s an intellectual and moral one, too:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” Americans hazily remember, was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. But we don’t ever talk about how the War of 1812 was a war of aggression that began with an attempt by the U.S. to grab Canada from the British Empire.

And about those slaves…

[O]ne of the key tactics behind the British military’s success was its active recruitment of American slaves. …

Whole families found their way to the ships of the British, who accepted everyone and pledged no one would be given back to their “owners.” Adult men were trained to create a regiment called the Colonial Marines, who participated in many of the most important battles, including the August 1814 raid on Washington….

So when Key penned “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.

Thus we come full circle, from the Hard Hat Riot by those who would morph from “Silent Majority” into “Reagan Democrats” and then form part of the Donald Trump base (the racist part), to those who angrily hate the “anti-flag” protesters. All of them fans of police in their most brutal manifestation. All of them fans of American football, a violent sport, as Donald Trump admiringly reminds us. All of them fans of aggressive, manly, “no one pushes us around” wars. And all of them fans of obedience to authority, so long as it’s the one they also obey.

What does the American flag stand for? We may as well all stop pretending and admit it — it stand for all of the above. Every bit of it. Because that’s what its wearers want it to stand for.

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  1. skippy

    Too…. some the Flag is a Gun….

    disheveled…. the social psychology of that is not very social imo….

    1. ambrit

      So, to paraphrase Mao; “The peace of conformity comes from the ferrule of a flag.” That, at least, is the ‘standard’ version. Humans are image obsessed.
      Plus, appropriately enough, the music to the “Star Spangled Banner” comes from an old drinking song, or so I’m told.
      God Save the Tsar.

      1. JTMcPhee

        …and “If the Tsar only knew…”

        Seven red and six white stripes, the red for the imperial bloodlettings, the white for the massive continuous and episodically amplified whitewashing of the imperial subjects’ self-image… carefully lifted off the heroes’ coffins, folded on the precise bias by snappily uniformed “honor guards,” so that the true-blue field of embroidered stars covers up the blood and whiteout, and presented on white-gloves fingertips to the grieving relatives of the Troop who died in the killing of Wogs for the Empire’s “national interests”. To be proudly displayed in a “presentation-quality” triangular glass and varnished-wood case (mass produced in China, maybe even Vietnam itself, available at Walmart and other fine outlets, )

          1. nonclassical

            (.. “the flag” stands for “nationalism” and other perfected distraction – dissembling from actual issues, when changing of subject is preferred prescription…)

    1. Disturbed Voter

      Kill or be killed. That is what predators do. That is what we are. Other predators follow other flags. We need to humble them (see Roman policy) when necessary. We are civilized, all others are barbarians. But since war is an uncertain thing, don’t go to war unless you must, not perpetually. Hubris leads to collapse, particularly in war. The only way to prevent a war, is to be prepared for the next one. And that is also the only way to win the next one when it comes. Like the line in “Rule Britannia” … others are slaves, only we are free.

      Professional sports, particularly American football, are war games … ur-fascism. If you don’t belong, don’t go the stadium.

    1. Jim Haygood

      After the St George cross of England in the canton was updated to the Union flag of the United Kingdom, the resemblance became even more striking:

      It’d make a great battle flag for the US-UK alliance in Chaostan, though our Isis and al Qaeda allies probably would chafe at being made to fly it. :-(

        1. nonsense factory

          Here’s my attempt at a new rewrite for the anthem, set to the same music:

          O! say can you see, by Wall Street’s bright light

          How so profitably set sail, all the young soldiers dreaming

          Whose blood guts and brains, were not splattered in vain

          O’er the oilfields of Iraq, they were so gallantly streaming.

          And the banker’s cold stare, the bonds managed with care,
gave proof through the night, our portfolio was still there.
O! say do your fund returns still make ’em rave,

          With profits tax-free, off the backs of the slaves?

          1. nonclassical

            ..”the rarely sung third stanza of the anthem, noting that the phrase “hireling and slave” refers to black slaves hired to fight on the side of the British during the War of 1812:

            And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
            That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
            A home and a Country should leave us no more?
            Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
            No refuge could save the hireling and slave
            From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
            And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
            O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”


            1. whine country

              The third stanza was routinely sung at Golden State Warriors home games during their 1974-75 championship run.

  2. Croatoan

    “Why do cops wear flags on their uniforms, for example, but not nurses?”

    Just a nit pick on that line since at first I thought it was awesome.

    Cops work for state and local governments, nurses do not, usually. Maybe I would ask; why don’t V.A. doctors wear flags?

    1. Teiemka

      NFL isn’t a government organisation though takes the dollars for “faux patriotism”, all NFL uniforms have Stars and Stripes.

      The thing that makes no sense to non-Americans is why the anthem is even played before domestic sporting competitions or music concerts other than US exceptionalism. That action alone brings it into the political sphere and presto here’s your political blowback.

      Having said that it is understandable that the anthem would be played if a US national team is competing.

      1. Anon

        The Star Spangled Banner became an introduction to sporting events in 1942 (Pearl Harbor was 12/7/41) to encourage support/unity for the coming war effort.

    2. nonsense factory

      That’s a bit like asking,

      “Why did GW Bush & Dick Cheney have the U.S. Constitution specially printed on rolls of toilet paper for their personal use, while they wore flag pins on their lapels?”

    3. ArcadiaMommy

      Some of the workers at the Indian Health Service wear a military-looking uniform, and I believe it has a flag patch, maybe on the shoulder? Can’t quite remember exactly where it is located.

      1. MichaelSF

        I think here in San Francisco the fire fighters do have flags on their uniforms, as well as small flags flying on the fire trucks.

  3. Blurtman

    How about a symbol of love of country?

    It is good to get Americans talking about race. One view, below.

    Black Americans make up about 13% of the population.

    But according to the FBI, they account for about 50% of murders, and about 38% of all violent crime overall.

    Chicago gives us some great examples. And let’s not forget the insanely strict gun laws there, by the way. For example, during the first eight months of 2016 (the most recent period for which the numbers are available), 2,818 people were shot — only 12 by police. (That’s one-half of 1 percent).

    In cities with large black populations, homicide rates have skyrocketed during that same period:

    In Washington D.C., homicides are up 54%. In Cleveland, up 90%. Overall, homicide is up 17%.

    The U.S. Department of Justice says that Black people make up 15% of the population in the 75 largest counties in the United States, yet account for 62% of all robberies, 57% of murders, 45% of all assaults.
    First, a 2016 study by Roland G. Fryer Jr., who is an economics professor at Harvard. He found that no racial bias could be detected in police shootings, in either the raw data or when accounting for controls. He also found racial bias was detected in lesser use of police force, but not deadly encounters. His recommendation?

    “Black Lives Matter should seek solutions within their own communities rather than changing the behaviors of police and other external forces.”

    Second, there were 6,095 black homicide deaths in 2014 — the most recent year for which such data are available — compared with 5,397 homicide deaths for whites and Hispanics combined. Almost all of those black homicide victims had black killers.

    Finally, police officers — of all races — are also disproportionately endangered by black assailants. Over the past decade, according to FBI data, 40% of cop killers have been black. Officers are killed by blacks at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police.

    1. JTMcPhee

      One might examine the source link to let the reader test the validity of the claims: “New Boston Post — The Hub of Conservative Thought”.

      Of course there’s a raft of contrary findings and supporting statistics that don’t jibe with the Hub Narrative, e.g.,

    2. lyman alpha blob

      And most murders of white people are committed by other white people, but that’s not the point.

      Should police who murder innocent people be prosecuted or are they above the law?

      That’s what this is about, not a bunch of lies, damn lies and statistics.

    3. Richard

      “It’s good to get people talking about race”
      Spoken as I proceed to race bait, and tell victims of economic and police violence that they should point fingers at each other.
      Thank you Daniel Moynihan.

    4. rd

      Poverty and violence often go together. Poor people in the US are disproportionally black, Native American, or Latino in origin.

      Three centuries of slavery plus a century of Jim Crow laws will have an impact on a culture. Even the Federal government institutionalized racism in housing policy:

      There is still a tremendous amount of racism throughout the US. These athletes are engaging us in this discussion through a fairly respectful process of kneeling during the playing of an anthem.

      It sure beats the heck out of when cities were burned or black protestors had dogs and firehoses turned on them. I saw the PBS special on the Freedom Riders a few years ago and what has stuck with me ever since was the sheer hate on the faces of the white people that were firebombing the buses carrying the freedom riders while the police stood only feet away and watched.

    5. nonsense factory

      The more interesting question is whether violent crime is associated with race or with poverty, I think.

      Let’s consider the racial makeup of those who live below the official poverty line in the U.S. defined as less than $19,000 a year for a family of three (and no property assets):

      41% white, 28% latino, 22% black, 9% other

      For the most hot-button crime issue, murders of police officers, the FBI statistics are that the perpetrators are as follows:

      There were 511 officers killed in felonious incidents and 540 offenders from 2004 to 2013, according to FBI reports. Among the total offenders, 52 percent were white, and 43 percent were black.
      There is an apparent issue in those statistics as to how “latinos” are defined, relative to the poverty statistics. Otherwise, one would assume that police officers should feel safest when interacting with latinos (and Asians), by a large margin. . . And there’s no mention of the economic status of the offenders. Plus, we have a rather small sample size, as this kind of crime is relatively rare. Hence, this is not a very good dataset for addressing the question of interest.

      So, let’s take a look at broader statistics on race, poverty and violent crime, shall we?

      Poor persons living in urban areas (43.9 per 1,000) had violent victimization rates similar to poor persons living in rural areas (38.8 per 1,000).
      Poor urban blacks (51.3 per 1,000) had rates of violence similar to poor urban whites (56.4 per 1,000).
      Poor Hispanics (25.3 per 1,000) had lower rates of violence compared to poor whites (46.4 per 1,000) and poor blacks (43.4 per 1,000).

      I’m really leaning towards poverty being the more defining factor than race when it comes to violent crime. Isn’t that the simplest interpretation of these statistics? (Other than that Hispanics/latinos seem to be such nice people! Do we need more immigrants, then?)

      As a side note, the racial makeup of the top 1% by wealth, (those with an income of >$350,000 a year and assets >$8 million total, more or less), is:

      96% white, 0.9% latino, 1.4% black, 1.6% other

      Gosh, there seems to be some kind of barrier to wealth accumulation by minority groups in the United States! Couldn’t be entrenched racist attitudes, oh my no! Must be genetics. . . Arf arf arf!

      1. rps

        There’s a larger problem here muddled in race and poverty, and that is gender. According to the FBI arrest by sex (2012); 73.8% of crimes are committed by men and 26.2% by women. Of all the crime categories, women outpace men statistical under the category of prostitution 67.7% versus 32.3%. However, the crime category ‘sex offenses’ excluding rape and prostitution, men rise to 92.2% and women drop to 7.8%.
        Men far outpace women in all crimes except prostitution which is a crime within a crime directed at women entering into a financial transaction primarily with men. In consideration of the origins of justice, law and order reside within the domain of patriarchal institutions, Luce Irigaray states, “In our social order, women are ‘products’ used and exchanged by men.” She expands in this way: “Clearly, women are in a situation of specific exploitation with respect to male centric exchange operations: sexual, economic, social, and cultural.”

        History of various forms of enslavement also described as: servitude, subjugation, subjection, oppression, domination, bondage, exploitation, and persecution is another muddled topic often determined by race rather than gender.

      2. jrs

        the solutions must originate in their own communities … AS IF whole f-ed up economic system somehow originates in their communities what BS (this is in response to the original post).

    6. Ptolemy Philopater

      Victims of ruthless enslavement and ethnic cleansing, both violent and economic, tend to be desperate and angry, as would you be. Apparently only Europeans are allowed the right of self defense and the elimination of ethnic rivals. This society since its inception has been about ethnic privilege. The “Stars & Stripes” is the symbol of that privilege and the violence necessary to preserve it. In disavowing the flag and its symbolism, one is disavowing the commitment to the preserving of that privilege by any means necessary, thereby renouncing one’s right to that privilege.

      Donald Trump is the modern icon of privilege hence his glorification of violence and bullying. He is entirely a creation of the banking system. His discourse on the NFL and loyalty to the symbol of ethnic privilege is all too appropriate. His entire program is to protect that privilege from interlopers, like Mexicans, Muslims, bureaucrats. His tax reforms are all about rewarding the privileged and cutting loose the burden of the socially disadvantaged from weighing down the privileged So is it with the prep school mafia. Holden Caufield anyone?

  4. Steve Ruis

    Re “One could call that war, among other things, a war to retain territory. Of course, the Civil War was also a war to abolish slavery, but that entirely moral motive came relatively late in the discussion.” To use this justification, one would have to suppose that the loss of territory was for no reason at all. The reason was the desire on the part of the South to maintain what it thought was the best economy: a slave economy. Since the South felt its “rights” to own other people were under attack, they started the Civil War, they planned, mobilized and executed the war for those reasons. (They actually transfered the contents of northern armories to the south well before any shots were fired.)

    To state the reason for the North’s opposition was to “retain territory” is reflected in no literature of the time. To preserve the Union was a nebulous attempt to preserve the American Experiment of self-governance, which would disintegrate (literally) were any state to establish the right to secession. There was never the intention of anyone to abolish slavery, although many espoused that cause. Even the Emancipation Proclamation was limited to the sates in rebellion and was not intended to apply to all of the states. We were a nation divided on the idea of slavery, but not yet abolitionist. That came at the end of the war.

    1. animalogic

      “The reason was the desire on the part of the South to maintain what it thought was the best economy: a slave economy”
      Actually, that’s a marginal interpretation at best. The South went to war for economic reasons – centered on the tariffs imposed by the Republicans for the protection & benefit of Northern manufacturers. The South wanted free trade, in the sense of being able to import cheaper manufactured goods from England.

  5. Eclair

    Nice piece, Gaius, dispelling a few more myths of US exceptionalism and probity. Not that that is a comfortable place to be; these narratives are part of the fabric of my upbringing, carefully woven in grade school history classes, Hollywood movies and early (black and white) television. At this point in my life, I am practically naked, mythically-speaking.

    As a related aside, my spouse and I rode Amtrak’s Texas Eagle south to San Antonio in February. We stayed a block away from ‘The Alamo’ and duly went on the tour, after spending two days exploring the Spanish missions to the south of the city. Unlike the other missions, which are administered by the National Park Service, The Alamo is owned by the state of Texas and, up to 2015, was administered by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who nurtured it as a Shrine to Texas Liberty, where a few brave Texans died, massacred by a vastly larger force of dastardly Mexicans.

    Signs at the entrance to The Alamo, caution visitors not to eat, drink, speak in loud voices, swear, etc., since the area is a sacred shrine to those who lost their lives defending Texas liberty. Even Notre Dame Cathedral is not this insistent on proper decorum and reverence. It made me nervous and suspicious.

    I did a bit of internet research that night (always dubious, of course) and discovered an alternative narrative. When Mexico (and the vast area that is now the state of Texas was part of Mexico) won their independence from Spain, their newly-written Constitution banned slavery. Meanwhile, the area of Texas, given as a grant by the Spanish government to Moses Austin, father of the famous Stephen, was welcoming English (‘white’ people, versus the ‘brown’ Spanish, Mexicans and Indigenous inhabitants) settlers and awarding land holdings on a per person basis. Slaves counted as partial ‘persons’ for the purposes of land grants. And, slaves were ‘necessary’ to farm the vast holdings of sugar and cotton. You brought in 10 slaves, that was an additional 800 acres of land.

    So, the Republic of Texas wanted to be a slave state; the Mexican Constitution prohibited slavery. Voila! The Alamo, where a ragtag bunch of pro-slavery advocates, decided to hold a militarily indefensible building and area, against their government’s anti-slavery army. And, predictably, lost.

    The flag of the Republic of Texas, the Lone Star State, is flown prominently all over the area, eclipsing in size and prominence in many instances, the Stars and Stripes.

    1. barefoot charley

      When I visited the Alamo 20-odd years ago, I was elbowed by the uniformed Texas Ranger at the door. I took off my hat, and he let me in. In sacred space, no words need be spoken.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        You are either a Texan or you are not. Mexicans have their heroes at Chapultepec (military cadets). I honor all fighting men, no matter their cause is just or not. Let the bloodless historians debate, a safe distance from the battlefields of real life.

        1. barefoot charley

          Point taken, with respect.

          FWIW, my big lesson in the Alamo came from reading Davey Crockett’s last letters home to Kentucky from Texas (under glass inside), in which he bragged he’d marched 20 n-words out to the free lands, where he was going to make something of himself, and they’d be proud of him yet. Opportunity, slavery and freedom were all one in the South–and all that was in the way was the Mexicans. It’s ironic that the Yankee state had to invade Texas twice, first to free it for slavery, next to free it from it.

  6. B1whois

    Galius, we need an editor for this part…

    The sinking of the Lusitania, for example, owed as much to American banking and industrial support France and England and the resultant German blockade of England, one that ships carrying U.S-sourced war matériel refused to honor, as it owed to the barbarity of “the Hun,” however propagandistically that attack was later portrayed.

  7. Denis Drew

    The national anthem uproar is rooted in something black and white from the fifties — television.

    In book-world countries are one step below God: sacred. In TV-world countries are land an people — and once you get that “practical” physical take you (I) may not be able to return to seeing the symbolic as sacred. Get me Marshall McLuhan.

    A little practical understanding of human nature (social instinct) might go a long way to damping some patriotic fires.

  8. Michael Fiorillo

    Whatever incidental merits this piece this piece might (but mostly doesn’t ) have, it lost me when it tried to pass off slavery and efforts to expand it into new territories as “self-determination.”

    That’s straight-up false, crossing the line into propagandistic, and I’m surprised and disappointed to see Naked Capitalism publish such insults to the intelligence of its readership.

    1. Eclair

      I assume, Michael, that you are referring to this paragraph: ‘Second, those conquests are always presented as defensive — in this case, “preserving the Union” as opposed to re-annexing territory whose inhabitants were exercising, however good or ill their reasons, the right of self-determination, a prime example of which was the nation’s own Revolutionary War of 1776.’

      Well, it is an interesting mind game; when is ‘secession’ or ‘withdrawal’ or the desire for ‘independence,’ on the part of a group of people bound together by language or culture or ideology, good or evil? Who determines the label? Undoubtedly, it is the victor in the struggle, since that is who gets to write the history, i.e., determine the dominant narrative or mythology.

      So, secession by the thirteen English colonies, to reform themselves as a nation officially embracing slavery, is ‘good.’

      But, 100 years later, secession by a some of these original states, plus others, led by descendants of the creators of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, who still wished to embrace slavery as a way of economic life, is ‘bad.’ Hmmm.

      Per my comment below, Texas considers its secession from Mexico (an anti-slavery nation) because it (Texas) wished to retain its inhabitants’ right to own slaves, as a glorious rebellion. In large part, this is possible only because the whole slavery/anti-slavery issue is hidden in the ‘official’ narrative of events. In 1861, when Texas voted to secede from the USA, due partly (or mostly?) to its desire to remain a state where slavery was legal, this was considered as an act inimical to the interests of the nation, one that must be resisted by defensive actions.

      ‘Self-determination,’ as practiced by a group of people wishing to rule themselves can be done for good or bad reasons. And, in most cases, the good and bad are entangled. And, people are so prone to self-delusion, of wanting, no, needing, to believe that their team, their region, their nation is always on the side of the angels. That’s why these myths and narratives are developed; to assuage our anxieties, to reassure us that we are on the winning team, the good guys who fight only to defend themselves. But, that is a form of blindness. And, the readers at NC are intelligent enough and strong enough to cast aside the veils and look upon our nation’s flawed and violent history and say, ‘this is where we come from, this is who we are, but we can do better.’ But, we need new narratives and new myths to sustain us.

      Apologies, for my going on at great length.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        The author uses the rhetorical trick of wedding the (presumably, to most readers of a site like this) positive connotations of “self-determination” to not just already-existing slavery, but to its expansion westward, and (as some slavery supporters stated at the time) eventually to the white working class.


        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          The full quote:
          “those conquests are always presented as defensive — in this case, “preserving the Union” as opposed to re-annexing territory whose inhabitants were exercising, however good or ill their reasons, the right of self-determination, a prime example of which was the nation’s own Revolutionary War of 1776.”

          Makes it very damned clear that Gaius Publius was not writing a defense of the expansion of slavery, nor the high-toned baloney used to defend that effort. He was elucidating the use of propaganda in the elevation of, and eventual fetishizing of, the U. S. flag during the Civil War. In a campaign that was so intense, it overrode previously hallowed ideals, like self-determination.

        2. Jeff W

          Actually, what struck me about that passage was not the “self-determination” part, it was the re-annexing part. The states that seceded were never “annexed”— in the sense of being seized and taken control of—in the first place; they joined the Union (Lincoln, in a Fourth of July message to a special session of Congress in 1861, made that very point)—so they really could not be “re-annexed.” But, perhaps more importantly, the Northern view—and the view that prevailed—was that declarations of secession were legally void so there was no need to incorporate, much less re-incorporate, the secessionist states into the Union (or “retain territory” as the post says)—the secessionist states had not left, and could not leave, on their own motion.

          Whether the war was really fought for principled reasons or purely territorial ones is a different issue (although I think, as Steve Ruis seems to, that the “retain territory” position is just ahistorical)—it’s that the North could not have held that opposing position. It would have meant accepting the very premises that the North was rejecting and going to war over.

          1. H. Alexander Ivey

            But, perhaps more importantly, the Northern view—and the view that prevailed—was that declarations of secession were legally void …—the secessionist states had not left, and could not leave, on their own motion.

            Just to make a posting here—the idea that an area can not secede by their own efforts alone is germane to the Barcelona crisis happening now.

      2. LifelongLib

        Well, slavery would have been legal in Texas (and the rest of the South) even without secession. Lincoln only wanted to make it illegal in new territories and states, which the South believed would lead to slavery’s eventual demise.

      3. Jack

        Let me throw another tidbit here into the mix. The revolution of 1776 is most often spoke of as a victorious rebellion that took place in order to throw off the yoke of British tyranny so that we as Americans could live in Liberty. “No taxation with out Representation”, “Give me liberty or give me death”, etc. A recent award winning book by Gerald Horne, “The Counter-Revolution of 1776” makes some interesting reading. The author makes a convincing case that one of the true motives behind our “forefathers” fomenting the revolution was the wish to preserve the institution of slavery. Anti-slavery sentiments were deepening throughout Europe and Britain. From the publisher, “The so-called Revolutionary War, Horne writes, was in part a counter-revolution, a conservative movement that the founding fathers fought in order to preserve their right to enslave others. The Counter-Revolution of 1776 brings us to a radical new understanding of the traditional heroic creation myth of the United States.”
        Furthermore, if one does a lot of reading about the revolution, it becomes readily apparent that our “fight for liberty” comes down to essentially love of money. The revolutionaries of 1776 were for the most part smugglers of one kind or another. England was determined to make the American colonies pay their way and they also wanted to recoup the costs of the French and Indian war. Hence the raising of taxes (which really were not that high) and a crack down on smuggling.

        1. LifelongLib

          I’m a member of a family that was prominent in colonial times. My direct adult ancestor and his siblings at the time of the Revolution were pro-British (he felt the colonies had legitimate grievances but that they could be resolved without separation). However there’s anecdotal evidence that family members invested in the slave trade as well, so while support for slavery may have been a factor in some people’s politics it was apparently not an overriding factor for many.

  9. Eugene

    Certainly informative, sadly not many will read or understand it. Like war itself, it’s the innocent who bear the brunt. Race seems to play a role, but on all sides, the good suffer the most, because of the acts of the few.

  10. Blurtman

    re: The Star Spangled Banner. Do you really think most Americans know any more than the first stanza of the song? Do you really think most Americans rise and sing the anthem as a celebration of racism?

    1. nonclassical

      …” third stanza of the anthem noting that the phrase “hireling and slave” refers to black slaves hired to fight on the side of the British during the War of 1812:

      And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
      That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
      A home and a Country should leave us no more?
      Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
      No refuge could save the hireling and slave
      From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
      And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
      O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

  11. Richard

    Thanks for this piece Gaius! I also think it’s worth pointing out the relatively recent provenance of the idea of flag worship. The flag salute in schools, national anthem at sports events, laws against disrespecting the flag, all these things date back no further than WWII. WWI gave us things like state propaganda and loyalty oaths and vicious punishment of dissenting ideas. All that didn’t much survive the war; it took the next war against fascism to institutionalize fascist symbol making in our country.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant!

      We are Western civilization, partly Greco-Roman. When we didn’t have flags (which are signal devices for tactics on the battlefield or between sailing ships) we had various horns and Emperors as idols. Life is not pacifist, even if you are a vegetarian.

      1. Richard

        First of all, who is we? I suggest you speak for yourself; millions of US citizens identify neither with European civilization (which is what “we” really mean when we call ourselves Western), nor its alleged Greco-Roman roots.
        Second, there is a big difference, at least to me, between imperial and military symbols that were a significant presence only for relative handfuls of soldiers and courtiers, and the US flag, which is fetishized constantly, for the benefit and education of 100% of US residents. It is qualitatively and quantitatively different.
        I’m not sure why you brought up pacifism, but I have long been wary of sentences that start with “Life is…”. Maybe don’t be so effing sure; after all, humans also have a tendency to reevaluate ideas and actions they once normalized

        1. Disturbed Voter

          That is the problem with empires, and assimilation or lack thereof of immigrants. If my Czech relatives still supported the Czech Republic, and we were at war with them, I would disown them. As it was my German relatives got between a rock and a hard place in WW I and WW II … particularly WW I, where there was widespread support for the German Empire, and the second most common language in the US at that time, was German.

          If you are an American, and don’t support America, I am happy to see you emigrate to wherever you are more comfortable, with my blessings. Fifth columns are … unacceptable. I have to support President Teddy Roosevelt’s comments on hyphenated-Americans.

          1. Richard

            Yippee! I’m a fifth column!
            Is that really the only problem you see with empires? That immigrants might not be on board with droning and regime changing the latest villain? Let me see if I can fit it into a quick top ten list.
            1) Dehumanization of the colonized
            2) Theft of resources.
            3) Destruction of infrastructure, both in the country we attack, and our own, neglected in favor of Pentagon $
            4) The generation of instability and “terrorism”
            5) The generation of soul destroying ideas, like “American exceptionalism”. Rules don’t apply to us. We needn’t take the consequences of our actions seriously.
            6) The psychological devastation of many imperial soldiers. It’s not easy for an occupier to maintain health and dignity, when those exact things are being ripped away from the occupied.
            7) The shrinking of vistas and possibilities. It’s very difficult to imagine something better, and to act on it, when every living moment is given to alarms and shrieks of manufactured urgency by our “talking class”.
            8) Racism. Lots and lots of racism, both the overt kind, and the mealy-mouthed, passive voice liberal version. See dehumanization.
            9) Gun violence in our country, which is uncoincidentally at its worst during periods of imperial adventure abroad.
            10) Millions upon millions upon millions of deaths, shattered lives, forced relocation (where do you think most of your “immigration problem” comes from these days?), generations lost forever. And for what on earth?
            Well hmm. Nope. Sorry, yours doesn’t make the list.
            And by the way, your “blessings”, and the invitation to emigrate, they are contemptible.

            1. jrs

              Empire is also undemocratic in the most basic sense. Many of those affected by the actions of the U.S. government (the people of Iraq say) have no vote in it. While those in the U.S. who do have a vote may neither care nor know much about U.S. imperial adventures and whom they affect! So yes its’ straight out undemocratic for those affected by policy to have no voice in it. And certainly even if some U.S. citizens do kinda care, foreign policy will always pale in importance to domestic concerns for those who aren’t the vote-less victims of it.

              Yea, yea the U.S. vote doesn’t do the U.S. citizens that much good either as the political system is so bad. Yes indeed, but there is a real difference of degree between that and having no vote at all.

            2. jrs

              and the soldiers come home and become cops, and the military hardware patrols our streets, so that the tanks roll by the BLM protestors.

              also things like … well it might be called tinfoil … but I highly suspect that one reason we don’t have job policies or even an economic policy that seems to give a rip about keeping people employed at all, is because they need desperate people to recruit for the military, if people had other options they might very well take them. Yes this gets tinfoily for some who would like to blame everything on ideology (neo-liberal ideology) rather than any conscious intent but … I can’t be so certain intent is entirely absent.

          2. Ptolemy Philopater

            “You’re either 100% with us or 100% with our enemies.” Perfect definition of Borderline Personality Disorder institutionalized as patriotism. Only the “we” has the right to self interest. Those who oppose “our” self interest are to eliminated. If you do not recognize an adversary’s right to self interest, then there can be no negotiation, no compromise, only elimination.

            There can be no divided loyalty. No hyphenated Americans. “To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place.” American Exceptionalism is simply a restatement of the Law of the Jungle. Might makes right.

  12. JTMcPhee

    For a while, not so long ago, “conservatives” were pushing to jettison the Roseanne-Barr-tainted “Star Spangled Banner” with the Kate Smith sanctified “America the Beautiful.” Until they read down to the deeper stanzas:
    O beautiful for pilgrim feet
    Whose stern impassioned stress
    A thoroughfare for freedom beat
    Across the wilderness.
    America! America!
    God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
    Confirm thy soul in self-control,
    Thy liberty in law.

    O beautiful for glorious tale
    Of liberating strife,
    When valiantly for man’s avail
    Men lavish precious life.
    America! America!
    May God thy gold refine
    Till all success be nobleness,
    And ev’ry gain divine….

    And these:

    Original poem (1893)[10]

    O beautiful for halcyon skies,
    For amber waves of grain,
    For purple mountain majesties
    Above the enameled plain!
    America! America!
    God shed His grace on thee,
    Till souls wax fair as earth and air
    And music-hearted sea!

    O beautiful for pilgrim feet
    Whose stern, impassioned stress
    A thoroughfare for freedom beat
    Across the wilderness!
    America! America!
    God shed His grace on thee
    Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
    By pilgrim foot and knee!

    O beautiful for glory-tale
    Of liberating strife,
    When once or twice, for man’s avail,
    Men lavished precious life!
    America! America!
    God shed His grace on thee
    Till selfish gain no longer stain,
    The banner of the free!

    O beautiful for patriot dream
    That sees beyond the years
    Thine alabaster cities gleam
    Undimmed by human tears!
    America! America!
    God shed His grace on thee
    Till nobler men keep once again
    Thy whiter jubilee!

    And this:

    O beautiful for glorious tale
    Of liberating strife,
    When valiantly for man’s avail
    Men lavish precious life.
    America! America!
    May God thy gold refine
    Till all success be nobleness,
    And ev’ry gain divine.

    There are other verses and versions, with more liberal and Christian sentiments, that have been better suppressed.

    1. rd

      Canada has had discussions about the meaning of the lyrics of O Canada with several lyric changes since it was originally written. It actually became the official Canadian anthem only in 1980, although Quebec had been using it for many years before because they did not want to use “God Save the Queen”.

  13. schultzzz

    I appreciate the history and context given by the article! But, I’d prefer to keep the focus on police brutality. They’re not protesting the anthem itself ; they’re protesting during it.

    Anyway once Kid Rock becomes President he’ll just write a new national anthem and then everyone will be satisfied.

    Just hold on a couple more years.

  14. DJG

    As Lambert Strether often writes, “I’m so old that…” I think that the value of this piece is to point out that the U.S. flag is ambiguous, to put it politely. But I would also like to set the current flag-waving within some aspects that I consider deterioration of civilian control of the military and exploitation of veterans to further a right-wing agenda.

    Also, I consider nationalism the creative side of group work (thinking of Mazzini, Garibaldi, rather romantic figures like Lafayette, and even Jefferson and Sherman, for all their flaws) rather than patriots, who demand conformity (thinking of Patton, Trump, or MacArthur and his unseemly behavior toward Truman).

    I’m so old that I remember a time when civilians did not refer to the president as the commander in chief, which is a military office. I consider this usage degradation.

    I’m so old that I remember a time when flags weren’t everywhere, which is part of the cause of Colin Kaepernick’s protest and a reason that Gaius Publius puts forth these observations. Any number of travelers to the U S of A have pointed out that the flag is everywhere, overused, over-genuflected-to, and for these reasons, a cliché. Quite literally: Mass-produced patriotic conformity in plastic or cotton blend.

    I’m so old that I remember when the flag was mainly displayed by civilians on Memorial Day and in parades on the Fourth of July, not as an array of plastic on sticks decorating the local Target or Walmart parking lot. And I’m so old that I remember when failed politicians like John McCain weren’t let off the hook because of “Thank You for Your Service.” (And I now wonder if Tammy Duckworth is in for the same fate, given that she can’t sign on to a single-payer bill, the pressing issue of our time.)

    In short, it isn’t only the long history of using the flag to cover up foreign wars, intervention, and coups. It is the use of the flag on the civilian population to enforce deference to our betters.

    Colin Kaepernick, as an American of mixed race, has seen these disparities of treatment within his own family. Only in the U S of A is Kaepernick “black,” by the One Drop Rule, and only in the U S of A are we still fighting a civil war over whether or not he is fully human.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I’m so old I remember these lyrics:

      Your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore.
      It’s already overcrowded from your dirty little war(s).
      Now Jesus don’t like killin’
      No matter what the reasons for.
      And your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore.

      Thank you, John Prine.

  15. Paul Hirshman

    However, white collar crime is committed disproportionately by whites because whites hold a greater percentage of white collar jobs than their proportion of the population would suggest, just as people of color commit more street crime for the simple reason they spend more time on the streets, proportionally, than white folks. Drug crime numbers are way off, to take another example, because so few whites are convicted of drug crimes, compared to people of color, in proportion to their activity in drug markets.

    And then there are the lawyers…

    The entire “crime scene” discussion is so off the mark one doesn’t know quite where to begin. (Vampire Squid anyone? Iraq war?)

  16. Jim

    Oh my God Gaius

    “We should stop pretending”

    “What does the American Flag stand for”

    Is it really all only about power.

    Could this be the bitter truth about politics.

    But theri there still may be hope–strangely enough from flyover land–Green Bay Wisconsin where the entire town “…all of them fans of American football a violent sport…” have managed to construct the only nonprofit community owned franchise in American major league professional sports. This structure of governance (from a town of approximately 100,000) consists of over 110,00 individual shareholders where ownership rules preclude that a small clique can take control of the team and run it simply for their personal gain at the expense of their small-owner fan base. The team also have a board of directors of over 40, compare to usual corporate governance of 10 or 12.

    Did those cheese–heads somehow manage to turn corporate/state governance on its head and forge a power coalition that represents their interests.

    Thank god for evil football in Green Bay–it seems to have given the U.S an unsentimental model of power governance–where the fan base gets what it wants.

    1. John Wright

      But the NFL effectively prohibited this type of ownership from ever occurring again:

      “Green Bay is the only team with this form of ownership structure in the NFL, which is in direct violation of current league rules stipulating a maximum of 32 owners per team, with one holding a minimum 30% stake. The Packers’ corporation was grandfathered when the NFL’s current ownership policy was established in the 1980s.[38] As a publicly held nonprofit, the Packers are also the only American major-league sports franchise to release its financial balance sheet every year.”

      There are other advantages to being a Packers’ fan. I remember a news story from Wisconsin in which a Packers fan was in a small plane crash landing. He claimed that wearing his Packers foam CheeseHead helped prevent head injury.
      There is little hope that any US city can truly ever own their major pro sports team

      It is more that they rent by tax subsidies (pay extorted money to?) sports franchises until the franchise finds a better deal elsewhere.

      I like how the SF 49’ers got Santa Clara County to build a new stadium about 45 miles from San Francisco in Santa Clara, and still kept the San Francisco 49er’s name.

      Here’s from Wikipedia entry on the San_Francisco_49ers

      “United States Senator Dianne Feinstein and other leaders threatened an attempt to prevent the team from using “San Francisco” or the “49ers” in the team name, but probably would not have succeeded without changes to state or federal law.”

      While Feinstein can’t be bothered to fight for single payer, vote against trade bills, vote against surveillance or vote against Middle East Wars, she can be counted on to grandstand about the name of a sports team..

      Exceptional leadership for an exceptional nation.

      1. animalogic

        I will give credit to the NFL for this: the amount of advertising directly linked to the players & stadium is limited. Note: no advertising on uniforms (other than Nike). Compare NFL stadium advertising with, say, Soccer, Aust Rules, Cricket etc.
        In Aust Rules football, the score comes with a verbal advert & the replays (the xyz Co replay). To say it’s saturated with advertising is an understatement.

  17. JamesG

    “All of them fans of police in their most brutal manifestation.”

    I love the smell of bigotry.

    It wakes me up.

  18. nobody

    Saul Williams:

    They’re trying to imprison my astrology
    Put our stars behind bars
    Our stars and stripes
    Using blood splattered banners as nationalist kites
    But I control the wind, that’s why they call it the hawk
    I am Horus, son of Isis, son of Osiris
    Worshiped as Jesus resurrected
    Like Lazarus
    But you can call me lazzy, lazy
    Yea I’m lazy cause I’d rather sit and build
    Than work and plow a field
    Worshiping a daily yield of cash green crops…

  19. nonsense factory

    How about a new pledge of allegiance to the flag, then?

    “I pledge to uphold the articles of the U.S. constitution, which define the separation of powers between the states, the federal legislative, the federal executive, and the federal judicial branches of government. I recognize the constitution as the supreme law of the land, including the rights granted to all citizens in the country by the amendments, and I pledge to defend the constitution from the forces of tyranny and political oppression that constantly seek to undermine it.”

  20. Harold

    Hymn for Nations –words by Josephine Daskam Bacon (3rd verse by Don West co-founder of Highlander School, Tennessee) Melody (Ode to Joy) by Ludwig van Beethoven

    Brother, sister, sing your anthem
    Shout your land’s undying fame
    Light the wondrous tale of nations
    With your people’s golden name
    Tell your parent’s noble story
    Raise on high your county’s sign
    Join, then, in a final glory
    People, lift your flag with mine!

    Hail the sun of peace, new rising
    Hold the war clouds closer furled
    Blend our banners, o my people
    In the rainbow of the world
    Red as blood and blue as heaven
    Wise with age and proud of youth
    Melt our colors, wonder woven
    In the great bright light of truth!

    Build the road of peace before us
    Build it wide and deep and long
    Speed the slow and check the eager
    Help the weak and curb the strong
    None shall push aside another
    None shall let another fall
    March beside me, o my comrades
    All for one and one for all.

  21. Harold

    Finland’s anthem has similarly peaceful sentiments:
    (Words, Lloys Stone; Music Jean Sibelius)

    This is my song, O God of all the nations
    A song of peace, for lands afar & mine
    This is my home, the country where my heart is
    Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine
    But other hearts in other lands are beating
    With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine

    My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean
    And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine
    But other lands have sunlight too, and clover
    And skies are everywhere as blue as mine
    O hear my song, thou God of all the nations
    A song of peace for their land and for mine

  22. dao

    It’s easy to condemn racism. That’s why everyone’s doing it. And also, to, oh, brand Trump as a racist and delegitimize him as President. Most of the MSM outlets have been working non-stop pushing this narrative since last November.

    Also, covering divisive issues like kneeling for the anthem and confederate statues, where opinion is divided roughly 50/50, serves to keep the 99% distracted and divided so they fight each other rather than fight the 1% (who incidentally own the mainstream media outlets).

    Speaking of MSM outlets, RealNews® network CNN is reporting that Russia has been trying to sow dissent in America. Does anyone else see the incredible irony in CNN saying this? We’re living in 1984 folks.

    1. jrs

      because workers of the world, eh I mean … the united states, were like this close to uniting against the 1%, this close in the year 2017, until they were divided by discussions of race and so the revolution was deferred. Or well … not really.

      There may be issues that could even right now get some widespread support, healthcare maybe, raising the minimum wage perhaps, fighting the most overtly criminal element in the 1% perhaps. But uniting and fighting the 1%, I don’t think so. If we had real leftist sentiment in this country beyond a handful of people, and if we had the means to do so like widespread unionization, or a political party that even represented the working class. But really none of those prerequisites exist, not the ideas and not the means. And so no noone oppressed by racism now should wait for any such revolution.

  23. Plenue

    Just finished Gerald Horne’s The Counter-Revolution of 1776, the explicit verdict of which was that it wasn’t a good thing the rebels won, especially if you were black. I struggle to disagree with this assessment.

  24. rps

    Two lines stand out in the examination of gaius’ flag thesis within the context of nfl football: “Our enemies would say it stands for national aggression.” And Trump’s quote noting “….American football, a violent sport.”

    Imo, I see millionaire athletes (some with privileged backgrounds such as Kapernick) and billionaire NFL owners and a billionaire president fighting amongst each other over who’s more privileged. Football is an abridged form of men gladiating. It glorifies aggression and violence with military veterans honored and jets flying overhead, all symbolic of power and might. The NFL games are about winners and losers, conquering your opponent. Whether or not millionaire Kapernick and his fellow gladiators choose to stand or kneel to the 1814 lyrics of the star spangled banner, certainly, he too is a flag bearer advocating and participating in male aggression and violence as a national sport. He’s not only a role model for boys desiring to emulate him, but he’s equally accountable in the perpetuation of organized violence and male domination seen as a game.

  25. marym

    Sunday football (emphasis added)

    Ravens stand for the anthem. Get boo’d anyway.

    Baltimore Ravens fans at M&T Bank Stadium booed players who took a knee before the national anthem to pray for unity and equality. An announcement was made at the stadium that the players were coming together for a prayer.

    The Ravens players stood for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

    Summary of actions at several games and also:

    For the 1 p.m. games, the anthem was shown by CBS, but not by Fox, which reverted to the usual practice of selling that time to advertisers on the regional broadcasts. The anthem is typically only shown on telecasts on the Thursday night kickoff game and before the Super Bowl.
    On Friday, the Seattle Seahawks announced that they would channel their protest into the Seahawks Players Equality and Justice for All Action Fund, which players said would support education and leadership programs addressing equality and justice.

  26. Scott

    I had a vision. I use it as a touchstone. ’78 and I started working on a new nation. I needed a flag. Had flag made from symbols of my invented found spiritual practice. Time is fate & fiat. Flag is rare. 6 were made by the wife & I have one left. It is not the modern iteration. It is on some hats from cafe press.
    The act of making a flag ended the joke, and the search for best practices ended with economics & finance.
    Why I am here. I made a flag and at a point in the past I said the act took over my life.
    Carter’s “reforms” and institutional inventions began to detour in ’78. Reform of the corrupted US appeared as impossible.
    My mind cannot fasten on the specifics. Things were added up.
    The US Flags are largest over car lots.
    It isn’t Obama’s legacy that is being destroyed it is Carter’s. Reagan did the Nixon with Iran, as Nixon did North Vietnam to win against Herbert Humphrey.
    The people of the US are insecure about the reasons for love & pride in the nation, so need more flags flying.
    Ed Baptist in The Half Has Never Been Told makes clear that it was more Expansion of Slavery West, than where the slavery of labor kept cotton prices low for UK Industry till cotton came from India, and India became China for the UK that had sons Industrials didn’t want to have to work so they did Finance and gambled away the Empire.
    Why go West young man? You will be competing with slave labor.
    The US is Rome & Rome was a militarily superior civilization that became the property of bankers who never wrote down debts and had their Generals dominating the lands.
    I made, had made a flag. It took over my life.
    The last thing I had to do about it and for it was create a currency which forced me to learn economics.
    How about that?
    I believe in Best Practices. My new nation (model) is meant to be worth defending.
    Mostly I want it painted on airplane rudders.

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