The Peace (flag) makers
December 7, 2001 1:51 PM   Subscribe

The Peace (flag) makers is the story of two hippies with an answer to the question "How to show patriotism, without hawkishness ." The article details their idea and troubles trying to get Peace Flags made.
posted by Zebulun (10 comments total)
If I were to fly any flags in response to the attacks/war, it would be the earth flag, to remind everyone that this war is against a small network of terrorists, not against a country, a region, or a people.
posted by mathowie at 2:07 PM on December 7, 2001

Why does the "Peace Flags" link on the front page bring up (which seems to sell steroids), but the "Peace Flags" link on the comment page bring up (the intended link)?

Anyway, thanks for posting this story, zebulun. It's a very interesting read, especially about how many potential manufacturers backed out, possily for political reasons or maybe just because there was guaranteed money to be made with standard US flags.
posted by msacheson at 2:15 PM on December 7, 2001

Why does the "Peace Flags" link on the front page bring up (which seems to sell steroids), but the "Peace Flags" link on the comment page bring up (the intended link)?

I caught zebulun's error and fixed it during the time you clicked through.
posted by mathowie at 2:27 PM on December 7, 2001

i'm not sure i would give up a sure thing for an almost sure thing either. but i'm glad the flags got made. but i, also, would fly an earth flag.
posted by o2b at 2:53 PM on December 7, 2001

Jeez, matt. Are democracy and freedom really that hard to celebrate and cherish?

I'm glad they're doing this. I probably wouldn't fly one myself, since I'm obviously hawkish on this war, rather than pacifist. But I just don't know why so many liberals have a problem with the flag. From Berkeley loons trying to make their firemen take down flags from their trucks (a supreme example of what Matt Welch has repeatedly noted -- a huge disconnect between liberals and the working people they claim to represent), to a university library taking down flags for fear of "offending" foreign students (god forbid the foreign students should see an example of unity despite diversity, a hallmark of everything America stands for), I really thought this goofiness had gone out of style by sometime last month. Doonesbury had a pretty good Sunday strip about it; and here's a bit of liberal jingoism. The values that I hold dear are certainly American values, and the US flag represents those values that I most want to export. The continued flood of immigration proves that they are also of value to others in the world. Why shouldn't we be proud of that? Why shouldn't we be happy to stand with each other, in support of each others' grief? Isn't the quasi-liberal standpoint that the flag represents jingoism and support for the war (and all the nastiness it entails) a ceding of that powerful symbol to the people liberals hate most? Why let them own it? Damnit, the more you're against the war, the more you think the war (or anything associated with it) is a perversion of American values, the more important it is to fly the flag.

So in that sense, I like these guys doing these flags, even if I disagree with their overt intent. The flag is more than a conservative symbol, it's everyone's, and I'll be damned if I'll let them have it. Hell, Abbie Hoffman wore an American flag shirt.

And I ain't flying no Earth flag. It's a cop-out, a way of avoiding standing for anything, and I'm sorry if that hurts. Geez, we're against terrorism. How hard a principle is that? Who the heck isn't? Beyond the obvious, what the heck do you stand for?

This is a serious question.
posted by dhartung at 11:06 PM on December 7, 2001

Geez, we're against terrorism. How hard a principle is that? Who the heck isn't? Beyond the obvious, what the heck do you stand for?

I agree everyone is against terrorism (including me), is anyone in any culture a fan of terror, aside from the few nutjobs on the planet? I think an earth flag represents the unity of the world. Terrorists will never win. It's all of us against them, and we've got them outnumbered a million to one worldwide.
posted by mathowie at 1:20 AM on December 8, 2001

From Berkeley loons trying to make their firemen take down flags from their trucks (a supreme example of what Matt Welch has repeatedly noted -- a huge disconnect between liberals and the working people they claim to represent)

Actually, the recommendation for the flags to come off the trucks came from a single individual, in this case, the fire chief, who, I'm sure, lives in Berkeley, as do the firemen. -- so I suppose your statement is technically correct, although you seem to imply that there's some group of rabid nutter liberals that's been trying to legislate flags off the fire trucks.

Meanwhile, as for your parenthetical assertion, the people that the fire chief represents live in Berkeley as well, which has both liberals, working people, and liberal working people, and all of them have various opinions about what the display of the American flag means, with I'm guessing, a large majority feeling it expresses support for the war -- which Berkeley residents have been shown to be significantly against. So I see no conflict here in ideals between our "working people" and our "liberals".

As an aside, it's the same Berkeley you malign that has historically been greatly involved in advancing the degree of our freedoms that we "celebrate and cherish".
posted by fishfucker at 2:50 AM on December 8, 2001

They aren't just making peace flags... they're making real flags of the USA. The law defining the flag doesn't make any provision for the arrangement of the stars on the field, so any arrangement of 50 stars will do. The alternating rows of 6 and 5 stars just happens to be the most popular way of doing it. You'll often see different versions of early flags.
posted by yourpalbill at 11:07 AM on December 8, 2001

I didn't malign Berkeley. I maligned loons, plural, in Berkeley. That's what a noun used as a modifier does, ff. (And it wasn't the fire chief; it was a city commissioner; and despite your attempt to finesse the point, the firemen -- working people living in Berkeley -- were livid.) But why do you at first assert "it was just one person" who thought that way, then back it up with copious verbiage claiming the entire city feels that way, anyway? Which is it?

I do, ff, see a conflict between your "ideals" and "principles" if you believe that a flag is suddenly to be thrown away and treated as a symbol of shame the moment your government takes an action you don't like. What, after all, is democracy? You lost this vote so it's meaningless? Gimme a break. The rest of America rightly looks at stuff like this and asks, What planet are these loons from? Are we to wait until the war ends for those loons to suddenly be Americans again? I ask again why these people who cherism "freedom" are ashamed of the flag which, more than any other, represents that -- to us and to people around the globe. Chesterton said (something like) America is the first nation founded on an idea. Do these soi-disant liberals really think the flag represents mere support for the war, rather than unity and principles of freedom and justice? How much contempt do they really have for ordinary Americans, after all?

Doesn't matter, really, because by thinking that way they're increasingly irrelevant. Shrug.

Matt, it's a nice, innocuous thought. But it doesn't stand for anything. You may as well fly a flag adorned with bunnies and puppies. Maybe the day we get attacked by aliens and institute emergency world government, but as of now, that Earth flag has no principles supporting it.

The Stars and Stripes do.
posted by dhartung at 11:44 AM on December 8, 2001

My reading was that you intended to disparage a sizable population of the city of Berkeley as "loons" because of a particular action that was the decision of two people (the city manager and the fire chief) and was made out of a concern for the safety of the firefighters. If I was inaccurate in this interpretation, I apologize.

Meanwhile, I don't believe that anyone is removing flags at this point -- hell, I have a flag on my wall that's been there for the last year, and I didn't tear it down simply because I disagree with many of the government's current actions. However, I do believe that the flag has been infused with additional symbolism post-Sept. 11, and that many people who have recently acquired and display a flag do so because of this added meaning -- I mean, if you were flying one just because it represented liberty and freedom to you, one would think you'd have one of these things up before September, right? Mourning/remembrance for those lives lost on Sept 11, a call for American unity, and support for the war seem to be among these new reasons for flying the flag. Thus, one of the reasons people are now flying a flag is because they support the war.

Now, we can argue this point for a long time -- both of us would just be guessing at the intentions of people who've decided to put up flags after the 11th. There's little need for this, though, because we should be able to agree that the flag, of course, means many things to many people -- it's a multi-faceted icon, as it's been around a few hundred years, and has been appropriated by countless people for many purposes. To say that it only represents the concept of "freedom" to everyone who sees it is the same as saying it only represents "support for the war". However, I feel safe in saying that it is currently being used by people who advocate the war as a symbol of their support.

So I'd argue that is not a clear cut case of only representing unity, freedom, or liberty, and I'm guessing people that want to avoid its current connotation of support for the war (which it is being used for, in some cases -- again, I grant you that not everyone sees it as such, or displays it as such, but this is one current interpretation/use) would rather not fly it at all, or make what they feel is a more clear statement.

That's why my flag isn't going up outside. I support my country, but I don't support war, and I'd rather not give that impression. I suppose I could put it up with a little asterix and a note explaining my position, but that would be hard to see and kinda silly. Or I could alter the flag slightly so that it makes my position clear through simply visual cues. That is what these peace flags are attempting to do. While I'll give you, they look fairly hokey (it simply doesn't have the same sort of visual harmony that the American flag does) it would be difficult to say they advocate war.

Anyhow, I'm not going around ripping flags down, or telling people that they can't fly a flag, so I fail to see where my contempt for "ordinary Americans" comes from. Again, no-one in Berkeley tore down the flag -- they were removed because the city manager and fire chief worried (unnecessarily) that the appearance of the flag on fire trucks might cause violence at an upcoming peace rally at the UC Berkeley campus (one should note: many flags showed up that day, primarily those held by the pro-war supporters, who were also demonstrating -- there was no unruliness). My lack of agreement with the majority opinion in America does not mean I have contempt for their position -- that I believe the flag has a complex meaning that possibly does not represent what I believe does not mean I think the "ordinary" American is blind or stupid. If anything, I would venture to say the opposite is happening -- it's "ordinary Americans" (if the "ordinary American" is the one you posit -- the one whom is unrepresented by "liberal" thinking and thinks that all of us living in the Bay Area are "from another planet") who seem to be most often attacking those who disagree with the majority (although I still don't see how that makes me unordinary -- but, heck, if not fully supporting the war makes me "extraordinary" or even "special", well, I'll accept your praise.).
posted by fishfucker at 2:56 PM on December 8, 2001

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