Recently, I read a comment on the internet about how the individuals who display the American flag the most tend to be the least democratic of us. It's really a shame, because, from a graphic design standpoint, Old Glory is magnificent, standing out from a sea of tricolors in striking fashion. As far as flags go, only the Union Jack, also a symbol fraught with negative connotations, is comparable. I have a small collection of American flags, salvaged from roadsides during the post-9/11 visible patriotism boom while I was riding my bicycle to and from work. One of these flags is permanently displayed in my apartment, and another one graces my office at work.
How do we non-authoritarians and non-jingoists reclaim this symbol, especially since it has stood for imperialism since practically Day One? Sadly, America has not lived up to its lofty ideals very well. It's about time we decided to embody the values we claim to espouse in our founding documents, to cease letting oligarchs use the power of our government to benefit a tiny minority of individuals.
There's a quote falsely attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville: "America is great because America is good. If America ever stops being good, it will stop being great." This quote is as ersatz as the idea of American goodness, but I'm willing to try to put it to the test, the only problem is that people who claim to want to make America great usually make America badder. I'm hoping that there will be an effort to make America good, perhaps by exporting soft power once more- the effort to export vaccines to needful countries might be a good start.
ADDENDUM: Buzz Aldrin has a thing to say about this banner, which graced the surface of the Moon:
Saluting the American Flag on the Moon will always be one of my proudest moments. Old Glory has stood as a beacon of freedom, hope, and opportunity for over 240 years. Today and every day, let us celebrate our flag and honor our nation's heroes who've fought bravely to defend it. pic.twitter.com/U5DsIaK64A— Dr. Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) June 15, 2021
Let's make it a proud symbol, and ourselves a people worthy of it.