October 16, 2001
I’m waving the flag these days — the stars & stripes, Old Glory, our flag.
Since September 11, I’ve been waving it all over the place, because it stands for something special, historic, important, and uniting. I’m not waving it as some macho bravado assertion of American Empire, but in the spirit of America Eternal, the land of deep democratic values and ambitions, the place where “Liberty and Justice for All” is not a throw-a way line, but a founding principle that we must struggle daily to try to implement.
Our flag is more than the emblem of America’s financial and military might, it’s a mirror in which we can see reflected our finest ideals of economic fairness, social justice, and equal opportunity.
Or not. This is why it’s especially important for us to wave America’s flag now, in these dark days when anti-democratic forces are loose in Washington and in the media, howling for a repression of the very freedoms the flag symbolizes. I’ll be double-damned to hell before I meekly allow this banner of democracy to be usurped by political opportunists, corporatists, xenophobes, war-mongrers, and fear-mongers who confuse conformity with patriotism, demanding that we be quiet, get in line, and be “patriotically correct.”
Hey, we’re not lemmings. We’re citizens, and as the founders knew, the first job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open. Our democracy was forged in rebellion, crafted by mavericks and risk-takers who refused to salute authority. They rejected all autocrats who tried to suppress liberties in the name of providing security and order.
This is Jim Hightower saying … Ours is the flag of the pamphleteers and Sons of Liberty, the abolitionists and suffragists, Populists and Wobblies, Mother Jones and Joe Hill, Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr. — freedom-fighters all. Too many true patriots struggled and died to bring our democracy this far. We have no right to be quiet. Stand up! Wave our flag! Speak out!