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August, 2003, Volume 10 Nr. 13, Issue 121
One Flag is Not Enough

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

Back in the mid 1980s when I first moved to Vermont, there was a brouhaha broiling over the further development of a famous local ski resort.  A major issue of contention at the time between proponents and opponents was the environmental impact of the proposed condominium complex.  A bumper sticker adroitly stated the anti-position: "Where the affluent meet the effluent."  On a national level, today, the effluvium has reached a point of crisis inversely proportional to wealth -- wealth mostly inherited by and through the imperial families of oil and finance.  The consequences of the elite plutocratic juniors coming of age affect us all.  The beneficiaries waddle in adolescent patriotic groupthink.  The unearned endowments of investment reach maturity bringing  with them the not so insignificant psychological baggage that affects  us all.  Aside from being unable to identify what they really want, the affluent oligarchy, unable to come to terms with the infinite financial possibilities of their reality, share a disconnect with the working people of the once free nation.  How can such wealth even begin to understand the plight of a minimum wage worker, or of the family whose head of the household works three jobs and still cannot make ends meet? Why would such wealth even care?  The inability of relating to the 22% of the nation's children who live in poverty is impossible for the mighty moneyed men who suffer from the psychological freedom that having so much wealth brings. Those who spend more on a bottle of Champagne or a pair of cuff links than the typical working United Statesian annually spends on prescription medication for a sick or disabled child are not in a position to know what's best for them.  The rich, especially the ruling rich, while they know what they do, do not know what wealth does to them.  The sad part is that, we, the sheeple, like adult children of alcoholics, enable them.

Rhett Redelings-MacDermott, in his piece America is Shamed, calls it like it is.

Our world has changed, yes.  Not because of 9/11, but because of who we allowed ourselves to become and what we allowed ourselves to accept as a result. 

The problem isnít just that George W. Bush and his crew got into office.  And the problem isnít just that theyíve undermined our country with lies, illegal wars and a largely unopposed attack on our personal freedoms.  The problem is that we let them.  

Never Enough

Being a millionaire is not enough to the millionaire.  A millionaire must have  two million.  When two million dollars resides in the bank, there must be three million, and, so on.  There never is enough wealth.  There must be more.  Like a drug addict, requiring ever larger hits, the super rich require more super wealth to temporarily ameliorate their anxiety, but not the sickness itself.   And, like a good enabler, we let them have it.  We let them have more media, more consolidation, more hegemony and more war.  

The underpinnings of wealth acquisition are made manifest by a need to control.  It is, after all, power that is the cocaine of the wealthy.  Power is the underlying reason for super wealth accumulation.  The super-controlling rich buy obedience through purchasing high-power lobbyists in Congress.  They turn to manipulating national symbols to get the population to conform.  If that doesn't work, then Hitlerian and Stalinist tactics will do.  Conformity takes on the qualities of corporate brand loyalty -- not surprising since this illegal administration is composed of Halliburton, Carlyle Group, Chevron, Unocal, et oil, people.  Slicker than black gold, darker than Texas Tea, they trickle up the wealth while goose-stepping on the Constitution.  And we, like fools, wanting to be true to the ideals of the nation, that is the ideals of the super-wealthy, take on the national logos with a "patriotic" furor that insults the Constitution.  Brand USA takes on a demeaning sinister significance within the projected pathology of the super rich.  This sad, pathetic and self-destructive behavior is taught to us in the institutions of State indoctrination, the schools, where the disease goes unrecognized.  

When the Sickness is Addiction Any Fix Will do

Tim Wise, writing the piece, "Patriotism as Pathology" reveals an example of the disease.  Wise contends that there is a failure on the part of the United States citizenry to recognize the "inconsistency of condemning terrorism while celebrating one of its most dedicated practitioners."  That practitioner of extermination is Christopher Columbus.  Just a month after 9-11, tens-of-thousands across the United States were marching with flags in hand commemorating the ruthlessness of Columbus while dropping tons of munitions on Afghanistan, a country they could not find on the map.  No matter that the majority of our citizenry have no knowledge of the Arawaks; we do not care.  Neither do we care that Hamid Karzai advised the U.S. oil company Unocal on the proposed $2 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline.  Hamid, who?  We do not care that Mr. Karzai is head of Afghanistan today nor where he came from.   Ignorance about the plight of Arawaks.  Ignorance about Karzai.  Ignorance is bliss, until  one day the entire nation is sick shooting itself up with patriotism and blood lust.  As Rhett Redelings-MacDermott puts it, "Nothing makes fear subside like kicking someone's ass and feeling powerful.  It doesn't even matter if they deserve it."  Go team, USA!  We're number 1!  Nuke 'em!

Robert Gellately, in his book, The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy 1933-1945, shows evidence that the Gestapo relied upon and received public support.  Just as then, the pathology is at play.  It is a pathology that convinces the public to believe anything without question.  University of Strathclyde Professor Conan Fischer, a reviewer of Gellately's work, recalls, 

Diplomatic humiliation, domestic poverty, an alleged crisis of morality, the perception that criminality was rife, and a fractured political landscape prior to 1933 allowed the Nazis to present themselves as a restorative, stabilising force.

Consider the pathology of Pat Robertson, whose Christian Broadcast Network launched a 21-day "prayer offensive," extolling nationwide viewers to pray for the divine removal  of the three judges that voted for Lawrence v. Texas.  Damn the sodomites.  Death to the infidel!  The idea being that the Lord will enable the righteous Resident Bush to stack the Supreme Court with conservatives loyal to Christ.  If only one of them could drop dead, dear God, would that be so bad?  They are old after all, are they not?  This behavior passes as normal for millions of so-called Christians in the U.S. today.  Robertson, et al, have high hopes, like Nazi Germany did, for the restorative power of the Right, in this case the Religious Right.  They believe that a moral man occupies the White House.  Meanwhile, the Resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has daily conversations with Jesus Christ about what to do next in an amoral world.  This is not just any amoral world.  It is an amoral world where George himself holds an honored divine position.  Judy Keen, USA Today, (4/23/03) reports that Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a close friend of Bush, told her that Bush believes he was called by God to lead the nation at this time.  Meanwhile, the United States Attorney General, John Ashcroft, speaks in tongues.  The Christian Coalition gave John Ashcroft a 100 percent approval rating during the Bush cabinet selection process.  This is the same coalition that backed David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, in 1990 gubernatorial elections in Louisiana.  The most massive military machine ever devised in human history is unleashed in a third-world country while the world is at the mercy of schizophrenics and neoracists and the U.S. citizenry finds this acceptable.  

When the sickness is addiction, any fix will do.  While the wealthy inject themselves with power, the masses inject themselves with patriotism.  The super wealthy would have it no other way.  Displaying the United States flag takes on a added significance in a post 9-11 world.  Prayer, even more so.  The non-wealthy masses have taken the people's flag and abused it in their own display of inadequacy with "In God we Trust" as the new "Gott mitt uns" mantra.  The recent spate of flag display is often  with little consciousness, regard nor respect for the rules of flag nor common etiquette.  It works as a fix, however.  A hit of old Old Glory is better than no hit at all, relief better than anxiety, groupthink patriotism better than critical thinking, blind acceptance of the Resident's State of the Union lies less taxing than exercising the free thought necessary for democracy to function.  

Just One More Flag Wave Before I Go

In a small New England town, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post displays not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but seven United States flags on their building, all within a few feet of each other.  A separate octo-flag flying on a separate pole dips dutifully at half mast on relevant occasions.   The  VFW hall faces the main roadway, exhibiting a highly obtuse vee roofline with one flag at the top apex strutting straight out and two sets of three identical flags each making their way down either side.  The need to display so many U.S. flags is both indicative and revealing.  Perhaps, if the building were larger, there would be a dozen  flags each side of center.  It is as if the VFW were saying, "Heh,  I am patriotic.  I am even more patriotic than that.  Much more patriotic than that.  Much much more patriotic that than...much, much, much, much, much, much more patriotic than that."  In fact, I cannot be patriotic enough.  Like the Germans who needed to display der Hakenkreuz everywhere, or the wealthy who never have enough wealth, the masses manipulated by the wealthy, never have enough patriotism.  Meanwhile, the town on either side of the VFW hall, for as far as the eye can see in all directions, has United States flags on display every 30 yards or so.  We would, after all, forget that we are United States citizens if the steady stream of red, white and blue were to end.  It is as if we are afraid that our patriotism would come to an end, that our next fix would no longer be available.  Utility polls serve triple duty as they extol the patriots' zeal and identify our inadequacy while delivering electrons and data bytes in the nations surveillance system known as the Internet.  If we only had more utility poles, we could display even more flags.  We would then be just a bit more patriotic, just like the wealthy, who if they only had another million, or another country to control, could feel better about themselves.  

Consider the manner in which these flags are displayed.  I've driven by the "Seven Flags VFW" and witnessed all the flags entangled, wrapped around their supporting poles.  I've seen hundreds of flags throughout the Northeast look like rags, twisted around telephone wires, frayed and ripped, shredded to pieces on car antennas, used as bandanas, ties and blankets.  I've seen hundreds of flags outside all night long without illumination, soaked during a drenching summer, frozen folded stiff in the middle of winter, and ripped from the whipping wind.  Claiming to be a patriot, it seems, is much easier than doing the work of being a good citizen.  Calling the government on its lies and ineptitude is as difficult as taking the flag down in inclement weather.  Yet, both are left undone.  Instead, we put up another flag.  We again support a purported president, when he lies again.  Straightening out the flag and treating it as the symbol of the people, not the corporations; speaking out against the commander-in-thief, the AWOL chickenhawk who mislead us into an unnecessary war, we find difficult.  

While John Ashcroft covers up the "indecency" of the exposed bosom of the "Spirit of Liberty" statue, George W. Bush attempts to cover up his corrupt and lying administration by wearing a flag lapel pin.  Can anyone name any other president who needed to proclaim his patriotism by wearing a U.S. flag pin?  The subliminal message sent is that I, as president, am not patriotic enough.  I have to show the population my patriotism by wearing one.  One doesn't question the patriotism of a president, unless the chosen president himself questions it.  Wearing the flag pin says as much.    Who would question the patriotism of the VFW hall if there were only one flag on their building?  Who would question the patriotism of a town that flies only one flag and illuminates it during the dark hours of the day as required by law?  A sense of inadequacy would.  

One More Park

In Southwest Florida, there was a recent groundbreaking ceremony for a proposed Veterans Parkway Flag Park.  Gary Bowler, of the Veteranís Midpoint Memorial Charitable Trust, said, "Veterans need this...Patriots need this. They need some place to go. Itís about patriotism. Freedom isnít free.Ē  In the original plan, the Flag Park was to be built only 35 feet away from the Iwo Jima memorial.  Complaints from the Marine Corps League forced the distance to increase to 100 feet.  Are only Marine Corps veterans allowed at the Iwo Jima Memorial?  The veterans that I know would rather have their veteran health benefits restored.  Rather than raising money for the park, funds could be used to address the needs of veterans and their offspring poisoned and sickened by Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium.  Indeed, freedom isn't free.  When, one might ask, do the super wealthy ever pay with their personal commitment and that of their children?  How often do the super rich children of the wealthy find it necessary to visit a veterans memorial because they as veterans need to "go somewhere"?  

The only time you see the ruling elite visiting veterans memorials is when they supply the public with a new cache of drugs, when the public supply of brain numbing patriotism is running out and in need of replenishment.  Ask yourself, when was the last time a United States president visited the mangled bodies of our veterans, the limbless torsos of those paying the price of freedom, the broken spirits of our 19-year old soldiers?  When was the last time this current  acting president asked the families who paid the price with loss of loved ones, "What can I do for you?"  Quite the contrary this administration has diminished individual veteran benefits.  It has gone so far as to cut the death benefit for surviving families at the same time that it sends troops to war.  Yet we will put up more flags as more of our children go to fight in wars that "will not end in our lifetime."  No matter.  We have our veterans parks.  We have our flags.  We have our.  Never mind that our veterans are sick from the illegal use of depleted uranium weapons used in Iraq.  Never mind that Iraqi children play with banned unexploded cluster bombs thinking they are toys.

Doug Rokke, former head of the Army's depleted uranium investigation unit revealed the "infamous memo" from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.  The March 1, 1991 memo, warned about D.U.'s "impact on the environment" and suggested risks to our troops and the civilian population.  The memo suggested such an environmental impact "may become politically unacceptable."  Rokke declares that the memo was "a direct order to lie."  During the first Gulf War Rokke, claims that we shot 380 tons of uranium.  In the Iraq War of 2003, he estimates the figure to be between 1,000 to 2,000 tons.  Rokke, a health physicist, an expert in D.U. puts it this way, "They see a target out there, they put their sights on it, and they pull the trigger. They don't give a shit."

Don't Put It Down.  Best One Around.  Put It Up.

My hometown held a bazaar last weekend.  Someone lined the street with small flags by sticking the short wooden sticks into the grass.  Dozens of flags touching the ground, some knocked over.  Others run over.  No matter.  We're all feeling patriotic today.  These plastic flags, by the way, are "Made in China."  That's "communist" China, mind you.  They were a good deal, however, and go well with the Chinese shoes worn by  patriots.  Perhaps, if the flag wavers have their way, even cheaper shoes and flags could soon be manufactured in the newly "liberated" Iraq.  If the Chinese laborer will work for thirty-cents an hour, the Iraqi worker may work for a dime.  More and cheaper flags for us as more U.S. jobs go overseas.  No matter.  We will at least feel more patriotic, by having more flags, more shoes, more oil, while the ruling class has more millions and more power.  We, will have more dead, dismembered and sick veterans, less freedom.  At least we will have parks, like Veterans Parkway Flag Park in Southwest Florida, to go to.  We can always put up another flag, or two, or three...or, seven.  

With each raising of yet another flag comes more attack on the patriotism of those who dissent.  Hal Crowther in Weapons of Mass Stupidity - The Marriage of television and propaganda may well have been the funeral of reason, writes, "Impugning other people's patriotism to achieve political leverage is the lowest road a public scoundrel can travel, the road where neo-con meets neo-fascist."   Crowther reminds us of two quotes that sum up the times.  Albert Einstein said, "The tyranny of the ignoramuses is insurmountable and assured for all time."  George Santayana said, "Perhaps the universe is nothing but an equilibrium of idiocies."  Let's go out an buy another flag.  Let's buy seven.

I, commander-in-chief, pledge allegiance to...oil.

President Bush signs American flags for workers at Beaver Aerospace and Defense after speaking about jobs and economic growth in Livonia, Michigan, Thursday, July 23, 2003. President Bush, in campaign-style speeches in states vital to his re-election, sought Thursday to make sure voters give him credit for rebates heading to millions of taxpayers this week. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

From the US Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Sec. 8 (g):

The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

The title of that portion of the US Code? "Respect for flag".

© 2003 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD

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