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The American flag is showing up just a little too much in some questionable places.
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Lots of stores have American flag paper plates and cups, and they come in both a waving flag and a flat flag--your choice for the convenience of disposable patriotism. And no American table should be without patriotic paper napkins so you can wipe your greasy American fried chicken face on the flag.
You can't get much more American than Sears, and Sears is celebrating an American Summer. It had been my understanding that the seasons were actually global events; however, I must be mistaken. In any event, you'll find plenty of items in patriotic patterns there.
Not to be outdone, JCPenney is single-handedly drying up the red-and-blue ink market with its circulars. And not only can you buy a teeny-weeny flag bikini there, you can also get flag flip-flops to go with it.
Of course at Wal-Mart, if they sell it you can get it in red, white, and blue, especially if what you want is plastic.
Not a store in the land seems to understand that to commercialize the flag is to trivialize it.
But this is simply the way Americans do things. They don't go halfway. Their antidote to the worst-ever terrorist attack on America is the biggest-ever display of patriotism, even if it commercializes the heck out of the most cherished and recognized of American symbols.
To ask Americans at large to abstain from abusing the flag is like asking young Americans to abstain from sex, or asking any American to abstain from driving too fast, or lusting for the newest, biggest, and best of everything.
Asking Americans to limit themselves to tasteful displays
of the flag is like asking them to watch only tasteful television
programs. It's just not going to happen.
If Americans are as patriotic as they appear to be, why is it that so few of them vote? I'd be curious to know what percentage of people displaying the flag on their clothes or cars actually voted in the last election. It may well be lower than the percentage of voters who turned out in the last election.
That's because elections aren't fads, they're a part of the nation's democratic foundation. For many Americans, though, the flag has become a fad since Sept. 11, one that will fade like that tattered one on the antenna.
What do the flag experts have
to say about all of this?
"You shouldn't take a flag motif and put it anywhere you might sit or stand on it," said David White, executive director of the National Flag Foundation in Pennsylvania. Do you think he means beach towels and collapsible chairs? He adds that using the flag to advertise is also a no-no, as is displaying it on anything disposable.
I guess that would include advertisements for those American flag paper plates.