• Hi,
    I enjoyed the photos from your “End the war” demo, very colourful and a great spread of age groups with plenty of young, that’s always a healthy sign. There is one point I couldn’t help notice and that was the numbers of the national flag that were present. In all my years on the left of UK politics I don’t think I have seen one Union Jack flying in the ranks. It is just something that you never see in marches and rallies of the left. The UK left sees the flag as the establishments symbol of imperialism and patriotism doesn’t sit well with most on the left. Perhaps the poem might say it a bit clearer.

    No, I shall not die for the fluttering flag,
    if truth be known, ‘tis nothing but a multi-coloured rag
    held aloft by some foolish hand
    inciting worker and peasant to kill
    on some green and wooded hill,
    peasant and worker from some other land.
    Nor shall I shed blood for the fluttering rag
    that brings out fools to stand and brag
    of brutal deeds painted grand,
    deeds where rustic and craftsman lie so still
    killed by my brothers’ misguided hand.

    No allegiance have I for the Nation
    this man made autocratic creation
    that divides my brothers in a world so small,
    binds us to a country’s cause, right or wrong,
    bids us follow its drum, sing its song,
    then sheds our blood in some border brawl.
    No, I’ll be no slave to flag or nation,
    have no ear for power oration,
    though its iron heel is on my breast,
    my back feels its leather thong,
    at patriotism’s barracoon, I’ll be no guest.

  • Flags started appearing in US antiwar demos as opposition to the war became more mainstream. Some of the Iraq War vets are highly patriotic flag wavers and aren’t necessarily Left. They think this particular war is insane and oppose it, and the more of them in the marches, the better.

    When Vietnam Veterans Against the War began marching against the war, that’s when public opinion really began shifting. No one could say they were cowards who refused to fight and no cop wanted to club a vet in a wheelchair either.

    I’ve never understood flags either. Even as a kid, saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag seemed silly. It’s just a “multi-coloured rag” indeed.

  • DJ

    As a traditional conservative, I see the flag as a (much misused) symbol. My ancestors predate the nation on this continent, and were involved (for better or ill, some of each perhaps) in its founding. The U.S. fought taxation without representation, only replace it with higher taxation; the struggle for freedom for all has been ongoing (and has recently had serious setbacks). As a nation, we have never been quite what we hoped to be.

    IMO the flag stands for what this nation was meant to be, but has not yet achieved. I believe respect for the flag should be taught in schools (one of the many curriculum elements jetissoned under Reagan), and it should be flown with pride and respect by those who seek a better nation.

    Perhaps that is why pride and respect for the flag are two things the Right increasingly distains. They fly it from their car on a rainy night– three clear violations of the Flag Code (4 USC 1). These days, the flag tends to receive more true respect from the Left– and more power to you!

    As for the Pledge, it conflicts with my spritual beliefs: my primary allegiance is to God as I understand God. That’s why the phrase “under God” in the Pledge so irks me: few who promote it really believe that the nation is “under” God.

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