Patriotism, Independence Day and The American Flag

ʎɐʞo ʇou ǝɹɐ ǝʍ

As we celebrate Independence Day, it is a good time to remember that we owe our heritage to those who had the courage to stand up to tyranny, and who fought for freedom and democracy. At no time, at least within my lifetime, has our country needed to remember this more than today.

Our President has declared war on Western democracy and on Western values, as he flirts with neo-fascist leaders around the world, and he gaslights to declare war on truth and the rule of law here at home.

After I published my last column (Patterns of Force – Realizing Which of our Friends Would Have Supported Hitler), perceptive reader Paul Tergeist noted that if Hitler were alive today “Trump would have hosted him at the White House and gushed about what a strong leader he was.” Those words ring with hypothetical plausibility.

Today is a good day to remember the evening that 20,000 Americans, waving American Flags, singing the Star-Spangled Banner, chanting the Pledge of Allegiance, and claiming to be “Patriots” gathered in Madison Square Garden in New York City on February 20, 1939. They were all American Nazis. Listen to their chilling words here:

At the same time, in Europe, Hitler was finishing construction of his sixth concentration camp. Seven months later, the Nazi army invaded Poland.

It seems more like an episode of The Twilight Zone than reality… but it really happened. And people seem emboldened to express similar value systems again today. Those who do not acknowledge the past are condemned to repeat it.

So today I fly the American flag upside down… an act that signals distress. To those who say it is unpatriotic, I repeat the wise words of Chauncey DeVega in Salon (See: An act of true patriotism: Fly the American flag upside down this Fourth of July):

“patriotism cannot be surrendered to the right-wingers, the zealots, the jingoists and the racists. It is time for the rest of us — the vast majority, who support a pluralistic, forward-looking vision of America — to reclaim it.

“Flying the American flag upside down in protest on this Fourth of July holiday can also help to sustain and inspire other types of political behavior, including protests, strikes, voting, organizing and the day-to-day corporeal politics of resistance that are necessary to protect American democracy from Trump and his allies.

“This Fourth of July, fly the American flag upside down. It is not anti-American or unpatriotic: It’s the most patriotic thing you can do to celebrate our national independence.”

Today is also a good day to review Robert Reich’s “The Five Principles of Patriotism.”


To those who say flying the American flag upside down is disrespectful, I repeat the wise words of Vincent Barnes in The Seattle Times (See: Why I fly the flag upside down):

“Disrespectful? Who could be more disrespectful than President Donald Trump? He has disrespected an entire religion, women, immigrants, a neighboring country, our allies, civil servants, the intelligence community and the free press. He has disrespected the intelligence and the basic goodness of Americans by repeatedly lying right into the camera. By appointing completely unqualified people to head them, he has disrespected the hard work of government agencies to make this a stronger, safer country.”

“July 4th is Independence Day,” I once wrote to a dear friend who was living in a personal gaslighting situation. “Perhaps you will find the strength to make it a meaningful one, not just for our country but also for yourself. Perhaps you will make it the first day of your Trek Into Sunshine, one in which guilt will no longer have a hold over you, and you can move forward in love and sunshine and goodness, each and every day.”

Those words still seem like good ones to live by today.

I leave you with this amazing song, Independence Day, by Martina McBride:

🎶 “Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing
Let the whole world know that today
Is a day of reckoning.
Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay
It’s Independence Day.”🎶

Addendum added July 5, 2018:

Nice video from America Versus on the difference between Patriotism and Nationalism:

Cliff Kurtzman
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9 thoughts on “Patriotism, Independence Day and The American Flag”

  1. Excellent reminder. And I admit: even though I am Jewish, I’d never seen the footage from MSG 1939. I am rather blown away. So thank you for ruffling me even more today.

    Pressure in the courts. Pressure in the streets. That’s how we survive this administration – and that’s how we win.

  2. Thank you for this. I have flown our great US flag on the 4th of July for decades, yet this year I have struggled with how to express my love for our country in light of our current state of affairs. Your answer is perfect. Thank you.

  3. “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Apparently not Sinclair Lewis but true none the less. The irony is that anyone with a half a wit can tell Trump is about as religious as a bag of rocks but he is definitely worshipped by the religious right. Every time I hear him say he’s pro-life, I want to vomit.

  4. The truth is plain to see a corrupt and criminal NEO NAZI political system which I refer to as CRAPITALI$M committed to the status quo of WAR HATE IMPRISONMENT SLAVERY LIES & IMPUNITY. And that’s because we’ve let the worst people make the worst decisions. The time has come for the best people to make the best decisions.

  5. The small hairs of my body are standing straight up. I already knew most of this, but a reminder puts this day in perspective. Thank you.

  6. mailing my letters with the American flag stamp upside down…back, it seems, to the Vietnam War days!

  7. Not surprisingly, I always find that your arguments pro and con on any subject are well presented. Just a thought in re Nazism and Hitler and USA patriotism: I was waiting for you to bring up IBM’s close, personal relationship to Hitler and Nazi Germany.
    Maybe next time 🙂
    Love reading your thoughts. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

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