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August 31, 2011

Irene: Death to America!

FLAG flooded street NJ

Here’s the latest example how visual media likes to frame natural disasters through a nationalistic lens (the flag as a dominant symbol or “actor”), the impact inferred as a blow to America’s self-esteem and/or survival equated to the strength of the American character.

A few more examples: 1, 2, 3.

And then, here’s our snapshot from Joplin. Then, there was “Iwo Jima,” Kansas.

(photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images caption: An American flag is shown submerged on a flooded street on August 31, 2011 in Wallington, New Jersey. New Jersey was especially hard hit by Hurricane Irene with thousands of residents forced into shelters due to flooded homes and many more still without electricity as rivers and creeks overflowed in the aftermath of the storm. President Barack Obama, who plans to visit Paterson, New Jersey on Sunday, has signed a disaster declaration for five counties in New Jersey, making residents eligible for federal assistance.)

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  • Anonymous

    In a different time there were very strict rules about how and when one displayed one’s American flag. If not specifically lighted, it didn’t fly after sundown for example, it was taken down and folded. While not expressly forbidden, most would not consider flying their flags during a hurricane.

    Patching one’s jeans with pieces of the flag was a provocative act and a protest against a war.

  • Anonymous

    In a different time there were very strict rules about how and when one displayed one’s American flag. If not specifically lighted, it didn’t fly after sundown for example, it was taken down and folded. While not expressly forbidden, most would not consider flying their flags during a hurricane.

    Patching one’s jeans with pieces of the flag was a provocative act and a protest against a war.

  • Anonymous

    In a different time there were very strict rules about how and when one displayed one’s American flag. If not specifically lighted, it didn’t fly after sundown for example, it was taken down and folded. While not expressly forbidden, most would not consider flying their flags during a hurricane.

    Patching one’s jeans with pieces of the flag was a provocative act and a protest against a war.

    • Anonymous

      Incidentally, bdb, remember the controversy over Dredd Scott’s (sic) entry in the student exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute? It was titled something like The Proper Way to Display the American Flag. He attached a podium to the wall, and provided a guest book where visitors could write down what they thought of the exhibit, pro or con. Catch was, to sign the book you were almost forced to stand on an American flag stretched on the floor.

  • Anonymous

    A potent symbol. Multivalent and ambiguous. For example, is it a sign of disregard to leave a flag waving during a storm? Or is it a sign of respect and defiance — refusing to “strike one’s colors,” so to speak?

    The first photo makes me think of our nation’s “going under” because of our refusal to free ourselves from our addiction to oil.

  • Anonymous

    A potent symbol. Multivalent and ambiguous. For example, is it a sign of disregard to leave a flag waving during a storm? Or is it a sign of respect and defiance — refusing to “strike one’s colors,” so to speak?

    The first photo makes me think of our nation’s “going under” because of our refusal to free ourselves from our addiction to oil.

  • New Jersey Fresh

    The flag is drowning.  The flag is under water.  The flag is all wet.  The flag is abandoned.

    It’s us.

    I’m not sure it’s a metaphor.

  • Anonymous

    I hadn’t heard of this before but Mr Google filled me in. I notice that Bush the First and Bob Dole led the public outcry against the art installation and both would later lose elections to the draft-dodging pot-smoking WJ Clinton.

    I watched a guy take a beating at a local Little League baseball game for calling the flag a “piece of cloth”. The city attorney later refused to press assault charges.

  • LanceThruster

    Flag symbolism has been elevated to religious icon status. It’s ironic that someone professing a love of the flag and what it supposedly represents would resort to physical violence because someone exercised their Constitutional right to free speech in expressing their views of what the flag represents to them.

    I remember the horrible drubbing Shrubya got for calling the Constitution “just a goddamned piece of paper.”

    What? I’m sorry. That was just a wishful thinking dream I must have had.

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