Symbols pro and con

This mildly amusing cartoon, posted at Maggie's Farm, made me wonder whether the distinguishing factor is whether someone objects more to spurning an ideological symbol or to venerating it.

I, too, would resist being required to venerate a symbol I objected to.  To the extent that someone feels he is being pressured to express a political or religious view not his own, I have considerable sympathy for a discreet refusal.  Opening ceremonies at my public grade school included both the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord's Prayer; I cheerfully said the Pledge, without ever giving it much thought, but stood silently through the prayer.  I can't imagine what the school would have had to do to force me to join in the prayer.  Nevertheless, it didn't occur to me to raise a furious fist, spit on the floor, or go stand in the corner.  If I had tried any such thing, my parents wouldn't have backed me up, even though my father despised religion pretty openly.  Your religious views are your own, he'd have said, but that doesn't mean you get to insult your neighbors.  Don't make public theater out of your resentments unless you're serious about starting a fight, and then don't whine about the results of the fight.

By the same token, if I see someone making an obeisance to a Che banner, or a Communist flag, or a Satanic ritual, I'm not going to shoot them to make them quit, though I do reserve the right to separate myself from them socially, refuse to patronize their store, buy their books,  watch their TV shows, root for their sports victories, and so on.  They are free to do the same to me if they don't enjoy watching me put my hand over my heart when the Stars and Stripes are being honored.

My sense of the Progressive flashpoints lately is that they instinctively side with someone who breaks ranks and refuses to solemnize a traditional piety.  It's understood that such a stance signals a courageous refusal to go along with fascist orthodoxy.  They're also primed to feel threatened when someone venerates nearly any symbol; even if the symbol was innocuous yesterday, the whole fun is in being among the first to discover a lurking impurity.  Maybe the stitching on the flag was performed in an Asian sweatshop; maybe a past adherent of the creed once owned a slave or attended a church that wouldn't ordain women or gays.  It's so much fun to notice the clay feet of any idol that they've lost sight of what used to be an ordinary reaction to the desecration of a beloved symbol.  I'm trying now to think of Progressive protests over the desecration of one of their own sacred cows.  When such a thing happens, it tends not to take the form of an attitude to a physical icon.  The problem usually consists of symbolic action, like refusing to bake a cake.


E Hines said...

I also reserve the free speech right to object, openly, to their speech and actions. A right the Progressives, and the Left generally, are at pains to try to deny me.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

I think we're getting to the point where we are both forbidden to honor things they don't approve of, and required to honor things they insist deserve our admiration.

You certainly may not venerate a Confederate flag; nor even approvingly forward Dr. Seuss as reading matter for children, apparently.

But you certainly must 'bake the cake.' I saw where the Church of Satan is now saying that, if Federal courts find that religion is a protected category such that Christian bakers don't have to bake gay wedding cakes, they'll start insisting that every Christian baker bake them pro-Satan cakes for their 'religious' services.

Cassandra said...

On the drive from DC down to South Carolina, there is a huge Confederate flag on private property that you can see from the highway.

The Spousal Unit read today that people have been complaining and want the local authorities to pass a law prohibiting private persons from displaying the Confederate flag on their own property, lest they "offend" passers-by.

To which the local poobahs responded, "Ummm.. OK. We can pass a law, but the flag you're objecting to would be grandfathered in, so that doesn't solve the problem".

Also, people are offended by all sorts of things, so be careful what you wish for. Ya big bunch o' eedjuts.... :p

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The point is to make other people do things, now that they have the whip hand.

The obligatory walk back from that is to acknowledge that not all on the left feel that way, that many are very nice, they don't mean any harm, etc. I would want to think so. I work with lots of nice liberals. However, here's what happens: they very sincerely don't want to punish conservatives and make them feel bad, because they don't want anyone to feel bad - it's their stock in trade. They are very reassuring that they won't insist that others approve of unmarried couples and homosexuality, just that they will rent apartments to them and not discriminate against them for jobs. Never never never would they require that schools be required to teach children it's okay. Of course you can have your Confederate Battle Flag even though we disapprove (and we know you have to to get elected Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and we know you're one of us and don't mean it).

Then ten years later, if you haven't gotten with the program because you have failed to recognise that it's the fashion now, and therefore moral, then you deserve to feel bad. We don't like to hurt people but you give us no choice. You're just hurting yourself, really. We're still nice people who never hurt anyone.

So it isn't the dungeon torturer style of forcing people to confess, but it ends up being similar. Being made to obey turns out to be important. Perhaps I am just grouchy because yet another educated, intelligent family member (and possibly his sister) is engaging in a campaign to show people how good he is by hating the right hates.

Texan99 said...

One of my nephews posted something approvingly on Facebook about how if fascist to require people to venerate the flag. I restrained myself from asking how he squares that with forcing people to bake cakes. I'm sure there's some distinction I'm too bored to listen to any more.

Texan99 said...

"It's" fascist.

Grim said...

I think it's fine not to venerate the flag, if you don't want to do so. I think it's fine to refuse to take the Pledge of Allegiance, which was written by a socialist anyway.

On the other hand, I don't think you should be employed as (say) an officer of the US military if you won't take the pledge of allegiance, any more than if you won't swear the oath of office. Nor hold a post in the government of any sort, really.

I also think you shouldn't hold an office if you aren't the sort of person who takes oaths seriously. That seems to me to be where we've fallen down. It's not that people are being forced to swear oaths that conflict with their conscience; it's that their conscience doesn't feel compelled to keep the oaths they swear they are taking freely.

Grim said...

Speaking of which, look what State just released in today's Friday Document Dump.

jaed said...

"Look what you made me do to you."