Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Your Flag Decal Won't Get You...

Updated - on request, just in case you're lucky enough to be unaware of Facebook, here's the "marriage equality" logo, aptly titled:

After September 11, 2001, the Bush administration made a very clever move: they asked Americans to buy and display "American flag" ribbons and pins, as though this facile, inane, indescribably lazy "show" of sporting the team colors would bring back the dead, address the problems that had caused the dead to be dead, or avoid having there be more dead for similar reasons. It was a clever move because it helped people pretend that they had accomplished something, without actually accomplishing anything at all.

The flag trend was insulting, and cheap, whether or not you felt America had been wronged by an international conspiracy of foreign terrorists, that it was a Mossad/CIA false flag attack, or whether it was some independent Saudi Arabian citizens acting with the financial assistance of Osama bin Laden. If it was a false flag setup, then being pro-war was playing right into the hands of the masterminds. If it was all real, then reducing your "support" for actual soldiers who were losing legs and lives in war to such a cheap gesture--the application of a convenience-store sticker to the back of your dirty truck--was a pitiful insult, while soldiers died on a fourth consecutive tour overseas, making $28K a year, or languished in sewage-strewn hallways in Walter Reed. When wealthy white Republican college boys got their MBAs at Wharton, and put flag decals on their binders, it was an insult to poor black enlisted Army grunts who would come back home four years later to find that the MBAs had no jobs for them because of the tough economy.

Remember how all the hip liberals saw right through it, and made fun of those flag-based expressions of jingoism, exhibitionist chauvinism, and armchair tribalism?

It didn't take very long for the turnabout, did it, now? All the hip, mostly-straight liberals are so proud to break out not even $1.99 Chinese-made ribbons. No, that's going too far. Instead, they exert themselves to the tune of a click of the mouse.

That same click, of course, does not come out in service of dead foreigners, including the one in four (or one in ten or whatever you like) homosexuals killed out of around 122K in just Iraq based on just official sources and counting just since 2003. Even if we're ridiculously conservative and take "one in ten" as our non-heterosexual rate, that means that Americans getting to file tax returns jointly is worth an exhibitionist click, while 12,000 dead Iraqi sodomites is not worth a similar click.

Here's John Prine, with Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore. Lyrics in the blockquote below.
While digesting Reader's Digest
In the back of a dirty book store
A plastic flag, with gum on the back
Fell out on the floor
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I'd tell her how good I feel

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more

Well, I went to the bank this morning
And the cashier he said to me
"If you join the Christmas club
We'll give you ten of them flags for free."
Well, I didn't mess around a bit
I took him up on what he said
And I stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife's forehead


Well, I got my window shield so filled
With flags I couldn't see
So, I ran the car upside a curb
And right into a tree
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead
And I'll never understand why the man
Standing in the Pearly Gates said...

"But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more
We're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more."
Are they good, or are they evil? The people being happily led along by celebrities and corporate media into displaying flags, ribbons, pins, $49.99 commemorative gold cross necklaces, or complimentary marriage equality pixels are not necessarily bad, or even stupid. It might be a poor personal choice to join the hordes of "cool" straight people flashing that week's armband, but not necessarily something that merits a harsh personal judgment.

The ones to watch, here, are the powerful creators and mass disseminators of this type of propaganda. The comparison to flag decals, and a study of corporate logos of any kind, and their subsequent use by the media to push the "gay marriage" issue, offers us a more concrete proof than any other (except, perhaps, Obama's blasé verbal gesture) that this "issue" did not become mainstream as part of a random, organic process. The modern "battle" over gay marriage was conceived of as a years-long project, where "minor" alternative publications and pundits would push it, it would rise to prominence, get rejected, then resurface, and finally "succeed." After a celebratory period, a new harmless issue will pop up: something that, just like any form of domestic social policy, will do absolutely nothing to alter the power dynamics of society. The people with the money will remain rich. The people getting murdered by the thousands will continue to be murdered by the thousands. The bread and circuses of this rotting empire are fabricated political issues, rather than gladiatorial slave combat.

It was all scripted. This new product release; this re-branding; this simplified, somnatic logo appeared on purpose. Like all of the seemingly innocuous images around us, it did not happen by accident. The thing with the chicken restaurant was only leaked and disseminated to play off both sides. That particular business' target demographic--poor whites eating mechanically-separated chicken--got energized, just like hip urban white straight "I support fair trade but I vote for brutal NAFTA enforcers" neo-liberals got a handout from a different brand a while later.

As the man behind the curtain said to Dorothy...


  1. After this, you might really like this well-written article: http://www.changelabinfo.com/2013/03/25/why-i-support-same-sex-marriage-as-a-civil-right-but-not-as-a-strategy-to-achieve-structural-change/#.UVLpJxyG3Tp

    1. His "we're like you, not like them" point is well taken. Here's a clickable link for any passers-by.

  2. I was quick to notice how overwhelmingly straight were the posters of this particular logo. Methinks they protest too much.

    It is so gracious of the majority to extend this small token gesture. How nice of them to extend the "benefits" of their oppressive Judeo-Christian institution with a formerly hated, much-defanged minority.

    Also, in step with your previous post about homophobic roots--it's funny, isn't it, that God didn't see, like, artificial insemination and gay adoption coming. Otherwise he mighta milked gay people for their procreational, institution-upholding possibilities way back when.

  3. Sera--> "defanged" may be more accurate than you meant... (:

    While you are right about the corporatist interests just picking another group to let the mob loose upon it, or the liberals' forgetting that their slip of hypocrisy is showing, the str8s adoption the logo is actually well-intentioned. Their mouse-click solidarity with the gays may help to change the ideological climate somewhat. Perhaps we underestimate the power of positive peer pressure on the book.