Flags disgust me. Why do we as a species continually insist on displaying these symbols of nationalistic pride as though we were still uncivilized tribes hellbent on raping, pillaging, and slaughtering the bods living over the next hill, or sand-dune, for no other reason than, well – ‘it seemed a good idea at the time?’
I saw the image above on the BBC website today and realised just how sickening it truly is. It’s Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, signing the letter that will instigate the U.K.’s departure from the European Union. The large (and obviously carefully placed) Union Jack draped by the ornate fireplace is symbolic of nothing more than a nation withdrawing into itself, a return to the days of yesteryear when it was still possible to brainwash young men into being slaughtered by the thousands on some far-off battlefield, for no reason other than that of nationalistic pride.
Nowhere is this vile symbolism more grossly portrayed than in the United States. I remember arriving on its shores back in September 2002, just one year after the attacks known as 9/11, to be horrified by the nation-wide outburst of nationalism visible on almost every building, vehicle, ‘T’-shirt and baseball cap. The national flag was displayed everywhere it could possibly be placed, like some great, symbolic, upraised finger gesture, and not just to the perpetrators of those attacks but to all the rest of the world.
“The Flag” is what America’s about. Little kids in grade (infant/junior) school are taught ‘allegiance to the flag’. Immigrants wishing to become citizens must swear allegiance to the flag:
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Despite nearly fifteen years in the U.S., I never had the desire to become an American citizen. I couldn’t, anyway. I would have choked on the oath of allegiance. I’ve never pledged allegiance to any one nation, and I never will. I was born British, but now I’m ashamed of that country and what it’s becoming.
I remember seeing all those symbols of nationalism on arriving in America, and thinking how terribly ‘un-British’ it all seemed. The only time Union flags were displayed in any number in the U.K. was at a coronation, or royal funeral perhaps. Now, since Brexit, flags are on display again; nationalistic fervour stirred up via a piece of coloured cloth on a stick.
Governments rattle on about ‘globalization’. On the one hand, they tell us how wonderful it is while waving their nationalistic symbols with the other. What they mean is globalization is great if you hold all the aces, especially militarily. It’s not so much fun if you’re the underdog forced to do the bidding of a superpower. “Liberty and justice for all” doesn’t mean much when the hated symbols of an invader, and its lackeys, are planted on your doorstep.
There’s a programme on British television called, “Room 101.” Three pseudo-celebs are asked to pick a particular something from everyday life that they intensely dislike. The three things are debated and one of them will end up in “Room 101,” a mythical vault in the BBC from which things never return.
I’m never likely to be asked to appear on “Room 101,” but if I were the first thing I’d choose to be consigned to that vault would be “Flags and nationalistic symbols.” I truly believe it’s time we got rid of them and learned to live together in this world.
Though I don’t doubt there are many who would disagree.