A relatively recent post by doctorvee got me thinking about flags (again.)
I was first struck by this, of course, seeing all those US TV programmes where a flag stood in the corner of a schoolroom or court, hanging from a house wall, or on a special pole erected in a front garden.
More forcefully, it was after holidaying in France and Northern Ireland in successive years that an explanation of sorts occurred.
I noticed the French tricolour flying (hanging limply actually) outside the local mayor’s office in every town. Now, coming from a place where the national flag was only flown from the pole at the municipal buildings on high days and holidays (or the Queen’s birthday – whether real or official) this habitual flaunting was a strange phenomenon. It seemed such a symbol of insecurity. Though I have seen two or so saltires flying from back gardens in Fife, the county where I now live, they are aberrations.
In Northern Ireland, of course, Union jacks or Irish tricolours fly in profusion from every available location – even the bloody kerb-side stones are painted in three colours in certain areas.
I just can’t get my head round the mindset involved in this sort of thing.
I know who I am. I don’t need a flag flying outside my door to prove it.
I don’t mean to upset anybody – I’m genuinely puzzled about this – but what could all this flag waving be about?

In a word legitimacy; or the lack of it.
The French got rid of their king (twice – three times if you count Louis Napoleon.) They’re now on their fourth or fifth Republic – it’s easy to lose track – rioting/revolution is almost their national sport. Deep down they know their state is illegitimate. They fly the flag to disguise this fact.
Same in Northern Ireland. The unionists know it’s not their country really and have to bolster their insecurity with a show of bravado. The nationalists know they’re not in charge so fly flags to assert themselves. All this in itself is relatively harmless; it’s certainly not as bad as blowing people up.
Does the same sort of reasoning apply in the US? They too got rid of their monarch, albeit not by executing him, though it was still bloody.
I can understand why recent immigrants would wish to assert their new citizenship, but are native-born Americans really so insecure they need to fly a flag to give themselves confidence? After all, most other evidence is against this interpretation.


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