People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Louisiana patriotism

Posted by schroeder915 on November 18, 2005


Among my most treasured finds in my travels around the hurricane-stricken New Orleans area is this American flag, with stars carefully snipped out of a sheet of stamped tin, and just below the flaking paint, still visible underneath the weathered stars and stripes, is the symbol most often associated with Louisiana’s proud cultural heritage, the fleur de lis. Who did this, and why? Is it a statement about Louisiana’s pride in both its rich cultural heritage and its patriotic loyalty to America? Or might it now – in the absence of any gesture of confidence by the federal government to rebuild, even while the citizens of Louisiana give away $5 billion of its natural wealth to the federal government every year – be considered a statement of oppression; the oppression of a people who have sacrificed their land, and now their safety, for the enrichment of a few, and the convenience of the rest of the nation?

I thought I’d hang the flag out here after reading “Are you a patriot?”

I have written about the loss of meaning of certain words like freedom, democracy, resolve, etc. as they are used over and over again by Bush and his people. Words and phrases, concepts, talking points used so much that Americans repeat them and believe in them. They think they are being patriotic.

I’d like to propose a new kind of patriotism. One that doesn’t require, necessarily, defending the “homeland” (I’d prefer to substitute “national” for that wicked Orwellian word) by sending Americans overseas (who nevertheless nobly serve when asked) for causes that don’t have the support of the majority of Americans, that are premeditated, that are justified through the cherry-picking of intelligence, and that are unnecessarily rushed before the possibility of a clear threat can be thoroughly proven.

Am I saying that the United States should never go to war, or never support democratic movements abroad? Absolutely not. What would have been the outcome of the American revolution, after all, had the French not intervened on behalf of the Continental Army?

I’m saying that throughout the history of our nation, with few exceptions, the White House and Congress have abused the use of American soldiers to justify causes that had more to do with the narrow interests of an American elite. Is this an elitist society? Because if it isn’t, it sure looks like it when one considers the disparity of wealth between billionaires and multi-millionaires, and the rest of us.

I’d like to propose a patriotism that first looks to the problems we have here at home. I propose a patriotism that values the contribution that every American can make to a better society, and in which decisions are made to improve the quality of life for future generations. I propose a patriotism in which the reach of government in society is limited, not because it enriches a few, but because the few don’t abuse the many.

I propose a patriotism in which those who are elected to represent the interests of citizens listen to the concerns of their constituents, not their benefactors, and who keep their promises.

I propose a patriotism in which, when the President of the United States stands at the historic center of a city that represents a unique cultural heritage and promises to do whatever it takes to rebuild that destroyed city, he isn’t just speaking to the cameras. He’s speaking directly to the residents of that city, and sending a message to all Americans who may be in need, that they won’t be let down when the cameras are turned off.

I propose a patriotism in which, when the President of the United States lies to Americans and then gets them killed or abandons them, they treat the act as a crime. A president who will say anything to get what he wants – to get what his elite friends want – is not good for America, and he must be removed from office to preserve democracy.

Louisianians have felt abandoned ever since Hurricane Katrina, but the reality is that Louisiana has always been abandoned. Louisiana has always been exploited of its riches for the benefit of others. It’s time to bring that wealth back home. It’s time for patriotic Americans everywhere to recognize the contribution of Louisiana to the rest of the nation. It’s time for Americans everywhere to hold this president to account for the failure of his actions, and for his failure to act.

Is this not the greatest tragedy in the nation’s history? Did not 1.5 million people leave the Gulf Coast? Has any city – or an entire region – in the United States ever been completely emptied of its residents? This is not a time for empty promises. This is a time for bold action.

It’s time for Americans to bring home their patriotism, and do what it is right and just. It’s time for Americans to embrace Louisiana’s residents and to demand that their needs are addressed. It’s time for Americans to reclaim the power invested in leaders who fail to act like patriots.

After all, we Louisianians are patriots too. We believe in a better America.

Update: And yes Americans, you too can be Louisianians and claim the fleur de lis festooned American flag if you only care about the welfare of this state and her citizens. Oh, come to think of it, we’d like to disown a few here who have been stealing money while letting the levees go to hell – say, Jim Huey (if he can make it out of the state without being torched and pitchforked, tarred and feathered). Yeah, how about a trade of Governor Blanco and Ray Nagin for George W. Bush. No, I doubt he’d be very useful here either, but he sure would make a nice rotten egg target bound in stocks in the French Quarter (and if there’s one thing we know in New Orleans, it’s the smell of exploding rotten eggs).

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3 Responses to “Louisiana patriotism”

  1. That’s a good description of the flag.

  2. Schroeder said

    Thanks – I love the association of both icons.

  3. Marco said

    Can I gank that photo of the flag to link to your upfront post?

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