The Flag of the United States is a powerful symbol.
So powerful, in fact, that there are those in this country who have co-opted it to represent the so-called conservative so-called ideals of cultural repression, military overexuberance and economic regression. For more than a decade, the radical right wing of the Republican Party has adopted for its own purposes the Red, White & Blue that symbolizes our nation's identity.
There was a time when any political candidate who failed to wear a flag pin on his/her suit lapel was viewed with suspicion and contempt. This was the time of Tea Party ascendancy, when a well-funded coterie of corporate kajillionaires managed to convince a bare plurality of scared, white-bread, middle-American, middle-to-working-class absolutely normal
men and women to vote against their own security and instead to support the monetary interests of the super-rich.
These hegemonists have been around since Day 1, silently making their wealth by—to mix a metaphor—sucking the cream off the top of the fruits of our labor. But then they got greedy. (Or, at least, they got greedier than usual.) That's when the market crashed.
And, while the kajillionaires slurped money out of the economy and left us dry and destitute, we were made to feel that we
were the un-American ones. After all, if we weren't fabulously wealthy, didn't that mean we didn't have sufficient faith in the American Dream?
There was a time when I was afraid to fly the flag. There was a time when I viewed it as a symbol of plutocratic, moralistic, colonialistic, racist, anti-government and downright anti-American.
But now, I realize that those "six white stripes, seven red stripes, and a hell of a lot of stars" stand for all of us. They stand for the Latina single mother struggling to put food on the table. They stand for the inner-city black kid trying to get a decent education while Republicans continually de-fund schools. And they even stand for the queer managing editor at an indie weekly in a weirdly wonderful Western state named Utah.
In the United States, we are free to choose. Sure, we can choose to be dead-eyed, soulless corporate drones. But we can also choose to human. We can choose to be us.
That is why, fellow Americans, I am proud to fly the U.S. flag on this day. [Cue J.P. Sousa march and fade to black.]
I thank you.