Wave This Flag Or Else

9/11 coalesced the nation, but coalesced it around distinctly white, middle American values and did so in an extremely megalomaniacal way. Good ol’ boys, huge garrison flags anchored to gun racks in their Ford trucks snapping in the breeze. God Bless America and all of that national pride. For me, and for many of my friends, most of that was a spectator sport. Heartwarming, like a Jimmy Stewart movie, but Blacks weren’t starring in Jimmy Stewart films, Jimmy Stewart films were, for me, a window into another world, another America. That’s the America that came together after the attacks: Ronald Reagan’s America, Jimmy Stewart’s America. A place that welcomed blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and Asians only conditionally into the periphery of their great parade. All that Bob Seger music, Like A Rock. Never heard that playing growing up in my neighborhood.

America came together but merely papered over deep divisions among us. The love-in welcomed us so long as we sang along in harmony to their tune—the American tune, “American” as defined by huge corporate interests which made out like bandits in the post-9/11 hysteria. The hopeful (and insidiously manufactured) good will and jingoism in the country was shattered years later in the days following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the city of New Orleans.

Beginning with the indifference demonstrated by the vacationing president and continuing with the staggeringly inept emergency response led by “Heckuva Job” Brownie, this unified, flag-waving, Arab-hating, America-love-it-or-leave-it crowd sat on their sofas and watched the desperate poor of New Orleans suffer in unimaginable, unacceptable ways, fracturing the manufactured post-9/11 unity.

1 Comment

  1. Thelmon Baggett says:

    The difference between Obama’s America and Bush’s America is that Obama is viewed as one of “them.”