(First published November 2012)
Flag waving is a very popular pastime in America. Old Glory can be seen everywhere you go. If it’s not waving in the breeze somewhere nearby you’re sure to find it stuck on somebody or something in your immediate vicinity.
Old Glory is much loved. Many Americans feel about their flag something like Muslims feel about their Koran. A sure-fire way to commit suicide is to publicly burn the Stars and Stripes anywhere in the American heartland. There has always been a certain in-your-face element to American patriotism and the prominent red, white and blue plays its jingo part.
During my American vacation this July I bought some stamps for my postcards. For 45 cents you get a picture of an American flag waving in the breeze. Under the flag is a slogan. There are four varieties: Freedom, Liberty, Equality and Justice. And underneath each slogan, in smaller letters, is printed FOREVER. Altogether very republican. Had a rather French flavour I thought.
July was Olympics month which gave Fox News its chance to do a bit of flag waving too. It got its red-white-and-blue knickers in quite a twist when it noticed that the US gold-medal-winning gymnast Gabby Douglas was not dressed in, well, red, white and blue. The athlete was accused of peddling something called “soft anti-Americanism” because she wore a hot-pink leotard. As all fair and balanced patriots know, hot-pink is the colour of Barbie, homosexuals and tepid communists.
Patriotism sells. The Freedom Carpet Cleaning company of Mount Airy, Maryland, proudly displays a sun-dappled Star-Spangled Banner waving in the breeze on its business card. This pitch is no doubt irresistible to flag-wavers with dirty carpets.
July 4th is the high point in the flag-waving calendar and it was on this glorious day that I discovered the nutritious flag. Take one slice of white American bread and decorate it with bananas, strawberry jam and blueberries and you can make your very own edible Old Glory.
Desecrate the sacred rag and an enraged patriot will reach for his Second Amendment rights and shoot ya’ll dead. Make a mockery out of the flag by turning it into a fruit salad and he’ll ask if he can get some syrup with that.