On Flag Pins and Complex Racist Rumor-Mongering

This article in Salon is really cute. It’s about candidates who wear the flag pin non-stop seem to be the ones dropped out of the race the fastest, so maybe the best explanation for why Obama opts out is that he doesn’t want to lose.

Do we see a subtle pattern emerging here? Every presidential candidate of both parties who ever wore a lapel flag during the debates, even as briefly as Biden, bought himself a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

And every major party candidate who remains viable today — John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — has seldom if ever been spotted with a flag in his or her lapel….

Dosed with Pentothal, each would most likely come up with a variant of the answer Obama had hinted at: that lapel flags no longer signify simple patriotism, but something that you don’t want sticking to your fingers these days.

For these past six years and more, men with those bright little flags apparently riveted to their lapels have fed the voters a daily diet of fear, secrecy, lies and a cruel war with neither point nor end.

No sensible politician would want to march under this tiny, metallic banner. Just look at all the fallen stars who did.

But what I found interesting was that while the writer noticed that McCain, Huckabee, and Clinton all go without the lapel pin, only Obama gets shit for it, he didn’t offer any explanations as to why. Maybe he thinks everyone knows why, but I’m not sure it’s universal knowledge as to what right wingers who give a shit are getting at. Complaining about Obama’s non-existent flag pin is a classic right wing dog whistle, like Bush mentioning the Dred Scott decision during a debate as a hat tip for those who think so little of black people’s historical sufferings that they compare that to the sufferings of embryos who, unlike actual black persons, can’t feel or think or have personalities and families and friends who love their unique selves.

In this case, the flag pin dust-up is a hat tip to the right wing belief that Obama is secretly a Muslim. I mean, they’ve got a slew of “evidence” to this secret Muslim status, but while pundits will occasionally bring up these spurious claims during debates, I’ve not seen anyone make the direct link between his not wearing a flag pin and his supposedly secret Muslim status. The bullshit rumors about him not saying the Pledge, yes, but those are open lies, so a lot easier to shut down. The background on this is that every time a Muslim person or family resists compulsory patriotism for various religious reasons—some people just have an issue with the Pledge, because it has a blatantly Christian prayer injected into it, and some might have other reasons—it becomes hot news on the right wing email circuit, and has since forever. It’s part of reaffirming the belief that America is rightfully a Christian theocracy, and that the flag and the Pledge are equal parts symbols of Christianity and America. Black Muslims especially are considered suspicious.

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