The Opportunity with Patriotic Symbolism

Donald Thoresen has a good post titled “Rally ‘Round the Flag”:

Consider the recent National Football League “KneelGate” protests in which the national anthem figures in the same way as does the flag above. Young black players, Jewish owners, and emasculated whites have been kneeling during the singing of the anthem in protest of . . . something. It is hard to say why exactly they are doing this, but it doesn’t matter even slightly because, whatever the cause, it is doubtless based on spurious reasoning and incorrect data and, more importantly, the larger message is clear: it is a display of anti-whiteness couched in anti-Americanness for the entire country to see. This kind of thing hits average Americans hard because, as people who are accustomed to avoidance (the frontier, white flight, consumerism, etc.), they rely on sensory diversion for comfort. It is safe to say that for many football fans, watching a game might be the only sense of community they get to experience–certainly on the national level. When this bit of recreation becomes politicized and that politicization is racial in nature, an increase in racial awareness occurs, with an increased degree of racial cohesion as the inevitable result. No matter what is said (or not) in public, it escapes no white observer that these spoiled-brat millionaires are blacks who are behaving in typical black fashion. The connection between whiteness and the national anthem is being formed right now in white homes across the country. White Nationalists might not care about the national anthem. We might not care about football. But we do care about angry white people.

The potential to appropriate U.S. symbolism is ripe and probably easier than we think. In the mid-90s, part of the quick success of an incipient Fox News Channel was to drape itself in patriotic colors and graphics, then, post-9/11, for its on-air personalities to unapologetically wear American flag pins, etc.

This distinguished FNC from all other MSM outlets, and successfully exploited the emotional tropes of such symbolism. This also had the wonderful side effect of causing Leftist CNN types (and Obama himself) to reactively and deliberately not wear the American flag pin, unintentionally reinforcing the U.S. flag as a symbol of the ‘Right’.

Flash forward to now, where we are seeing the effective racialization of everything.

Trump’s recent NFL kerfuffle, for example, was a brilliant move in that he successfully corralled BLM-types and their MSM apologists into a corner, coaxing them to take the position that disrespecting the National Anthem is the ‘Right Thing To Do’. It’s tantamount to nudging the Left (and mainstream Dems) into a position of pro-flag-burning.

Think of Trump’s earlier Warsaw speech, where a generic defense of the West was seen by even mainstream liberals like Peter Beinart as coded white supremacism.

This is where we are now. In terms of appropriating American symbols, and tapping into the massive wellspring of meaning and social capital which accompanies them, we have one hell of an opportunity before us.

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