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United?

Kerry Zagarella




When did it become okay to deface the American flag? I wonder what the reaction would be if the Black Lives Matter movement added red, black and green stripes to old glory, much like the Blue Lives Matter movement distorted the flag with their signature thin blue line stripe added to the already altered color scheme of black and white. Don’t get me wrong, I understand we all have freedom of expression; I am just calling on you to wonder.


Yesterday as I waited in line at the gas station, a large pick up truck stopped in front of me. Waving from the truck bed, atop a long pole, was a slanderous picture of an “American flag” on a flag. The “American” flag was wrapped around a very angry eagle and in large, bold, uppercase letters the three words, GOD AND GUNS were scraped across the fabric. Nuf said.


Flags mostly represent pride in nation, a type of blind nationalism with no questions asked. Typically easier to embrace for the people in power. The flag is a symbol for some. But I also have to add another wonder; what does the American Flag mean to the Indigenous populations? What did it mean on their Trail of Tears? Certainly unity, justice, freedom and equality were not what Indigenous people experienced ever, most specifically during the relocation/removal policy of Andrew Jackson.


We raised an American flag long before women got the right to vote, long before the fight for Civil Rights and Equal Rights began. That flag flies with its fairy tales of a strong united nation as long as no questions are asked.


Perhaps long ago, when we were not building walls, when this country was a beacon of democracy, a shining light of freedom in the world, that flag had more unifying power. Lady Liberty, raising her torch and lighting the way for millions of immigrants to dock on Ellis Island to register for their chance at the American dream. That flag is rapidly unraveling, becoming threadbare from bigotry, racism, fear, violence, and ignorance. Yet it seems that many Americans don’t mind.


We are stuck with a Supreme Court that no longer pays attention to The Constitution, and has the authority to make rulings against personal rights and freedoms. A woman’s right to choose, gone. GONE. Roe v Wade, overturned. Affirmative Action; overturned. Businesses have the right to refuse service based on their own religion. Much like the segregated lunch counters and water fountains of the 1960s, and this is just the beginning. Across our un-United States, regional decisions are being made about the meaning and significance of the constitution and who has rights and who shouldn’t. The Court believes to be acting as a “moral” enforcer instead of their real job which is to examine and debate Constitutional Law, for us, the people!


A government by and for the people seems impossible now. But that idea was one that filled our country with pride and possibility after The Civil War. In one of Abraham Lincoln’s best known speeches, The Gettysburg Address, he said, “That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”


Is our government run, of the people, by the people, and for the people? The vast majority of Americans want sensible gun control. The overwhelming opinion of the American people is less powerful than the lobbyists of The NRA. Special interests groups, lobbyists, and corporations seem to be running things at this point. Certainly the conservative majority of the Supreme Court is doing its best to control the idea of justice and freedom.


Seeing GOD AND GUNS scrawled across a twisted American Flag was ugly. The disturbing issue is this idea that God and guns have anything to do with each other. As a Jesus/Buddha/Earth loving Agnostic, I find myself often reminding the far right Christians on social media of the non-judgemental and good will for your fellow “man” aspects of Christianity. When the alt right Christians rail against voting for food stamps, because the poor need to pull themselves out, I might mention, one of the 2000 quotes in the Bible explaining how feeding the poor is a way of practicing christianity. I guess I do this for my own entertainment or defense. Growing up on USDA blocks of cheese and food stamps gives me a certain insight into what food insecurity can do to a family. But do I need to have been poor, to want to help the poor? It's called empathy. I don't have to be in a gay couple being turned away at a bakery because of their sexual preference to know that this is not right. I don't have to be a trans teen to support their right to the power of being seen and accepted. Why is there so much fear, hatred and violence coming from the alt-right “Christians”? Why God and Guns? As they say, there is No hate like Christian love. We must enforce separation of church and state. Let's start with our prayer to the flag.


In the original Pledge of Allegiance a separation of church and state was implied. The original read:


I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”


Still a dream perhaps.


Independence and equal rights for all! The God and Guns guy can wave his flag off the back of his truck, but he should specify which God he is talking about. His God sounds more like the almighty temperamental Greek God Zues than the Christian god.








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