Monday, September 13, 2010


A few weeks ago, a new flag went up in our neighborhood.
It's the kind of flag local toddlers point out to their mommies: "Look, mommy: 'Ellow flag!"
BRIGHT yellow, in fact.
Plus: It had an animal, always a hit with the under-three crowd.
A snake, to be precise, all coiled up, ready to jump, fangs at the ready, its rattler high up in the air.
It had a caption too, in all caps: DON'T TREAD ON ME.
Not exactly cute, but toddlers can be forgiving -- the 'ellow and the sayk! simply override everything else.

Sultry S and I assumed it was a sporting flag of some kind -- folks here fly big letters T on game days, or flags with elephants and the final four letters of our president's name, or else rather grim-looking honeybees.
But this flag stayed up all the time.
This was either a football team on a perpetual winning streak, or something else entirely.

Turns out it's the unofficial flag of the Tea Party, that delightful extreme-nationalist, racist-but-we're-too-chicken-to-admit-it, let's-not-bother-with-actually-understanding-the-Constitution-we-claim-to-defend oh-so spontaneous pol movement that is emphatically so not part of the GOP.

Mottoes are telling -- that's why we adopt them.

The general slogan of this great nation is E pluribus unum: unity from diversity. (Or: We're all in this together, man.)
This whole don't-tread-on-me sentiment being waved a block from our house thus seems somewhat anathema to the sentiment expressed in the national motto.

Well: to each her/his own, I say.

Still, one wonders exactly what effective statesmanship could spring forth from the tightly wound coils of a defensiveness so clearly mass-produced, yet so uber-individually wrapped in near-frontier-mystique levels of hysteric paranoia?
(Or one shudders to think.)
(But that would be meta-paranoia, right?)

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