Bush Turns Americans Against Flying the Flag

There’s a way to see how America feels about itself without opinion polls: Count how many flags fly on the 4th of July.

“When people are feeling better about the country they buy more flags. It was like this during the Nixon years.”

After decades in the flag business, Randolph Smith, president of Chicago-based Advertising Flag Co. Inc., said he has seen interest in the flag ebb and flow, according to the general sentiment people have about the country’s direction.

Immediately following the 9-11 attacks, for example, U.S. flag sales accounted for 25 percent of his business. Today, it’s about 16 to 18 percent and has been declining since 2003, he said.

“When people are feeling better about the country they buy more flags,” Smith said. “It was like this during the Nixon years. It wasn’t our bread and butter then either.”

Kimberly Sklarz, corporate secretary for Bartlett, Ill.-based FlagsUSA, said the run-up to the July 4 holiday, normally a busy time, has been particularly slow this year. The company’s U.S. flag sales were down 49 percent in June over the same period last year.

“It is a very sad time right now. We are just kind of baffled by how things are going and all because of the war,” Sklarz said. “We expected it to make some kind of effect on the company, but it is getting pretty bad.”

A quick check of my own home shows…no flag. On the 4th of July, 2002, one was out there. But too many speeches by Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney about the United States and Iraq and democracy and terror and liberty and secret prisons and going it alone and the way forward and surges and sacrifice that costs them nothing but costs others everything and support for people who betray America have left me feeling like most former flag-fliers: over it.

6 Comments

  • July 4, 2007 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    I refer you to Howard Zinn’s article in AlterNet, which echoes sentiments I have held strongly for the past 40 years. No flags for me, thank you!
    http://www.alternet.org/stories/55822/

    Enjoy this day, and celebrate the commonality of all mankind.

  • Bucky Goldberg
    July 4, 2007 - 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I don’t even recognize the country I grew up in anymore. Undoubtedly I grew up in a time of relative innocence and prosperity, but I always felt proud to be an american. Now, I’m ashamed of our government and the attitudes of those that still support it. Visiting Canada recently was a breath of fresh air. Much more civilized, polite and free. Our great american experiment is over.

  • July 4, 2007 - 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Bucky Goldberg–nice comment.
    You said you used to be proud to be an American. Millions of others used to be also, for all the reasons you mentioned, but millions of others still proclaim that they are still “proud” Americans. How can you be “proud” of something you had nothing to do with creating? And isn’t pride one of the seven deadly sins? It always seemed to me that it would be much more accurate and appropriate to say “I’m GRATEFUL to be an American”? Remember the saying “Pride goeth before a fall”? That sure seems where we’re heading.

  • July 5, 2007 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    This man charges too much for American Flags. He needs to contact the Chinese firms that are making a killing on American Flag sales.

  • July 6, 2007 - 6:06 am | Permalink

    We took our flag down the day the United States of America invaded Iraq. We won’t raise it again until all of our surviving troops have returned home.

  • carla daniel
    July 7, 2007 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    I am glad “Buck” said what he said about taking the flag down when the USA invaded Iraq. I also had feelings about the pledge. I have seen it become more of a worship than understanding what the flag means. I cannot support a flag that uses it as a motivation to get people to support an unjustified war on innocent Iraqi citizens or spy on innocent Americans. Is our country becoming a Orwellian nightmare. OUr country is a Corporate United States of American (CUSA)

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