10.19.2005

flags

In the US, especially for the last four years, the Stars and Stripes flies everywhere. I hated it.

In Canada, the Maple Leaf flies everywhere. I like it.

This is so different for me. I've been rejecting the US flag one way or another for most of my adult life - refusing to stand for the national anthem, turning flag postage stamps upside down, any little symbolic act that subverts the powerful symbol.

Here, I look at the Maple Leaf, and I smile inside. At the very least, I'm neutral.

Why do the two flags evoke such different responses for me?

When I mentioned this to Allan, he said he's been thinking about the same thing. For him, he said, the bad feelings about the US flag stem from who flies it. He imagines the flag-fliers are right-wing, war-happy, love-it-or-leave-it types, the folks listening to Bill O'Reilly and boycotting France. The working-class Americans ignorant enough to think the Republicans are on their side.

It's a stereotype, of course, but it's one that bears out more often than not.

For me, it's what the flag itself means to me. A flag is a symbol. And right now, the American flag symbolizes war and empire. Greed and unchecked capitalism. Arrogance and belligerence. And rampant hypocrisy, since we're told the Stars and Stripes symbolizes freedom and democracy, and both are in such short supply.

The Maple Leaf, by contrast, seems so benign. So understated. It beckons to me: Live a good life. Live a quieter life. We don't have all the answers, we're just trying to do the best we can in an imperfect world. Join us and we'll work on it together.

44 comments:

James said...

I've never found the US flag to be visually attractive, myself. It's busy, with all those stripes and stars competing for attention. If you look at it from a distance, it has more the impression of pinkish mush with a blue bit.

The only element that's an appreciable fraction of the size of the overall flag is the blue field, and the stripes can give an unpleasant moire/shimmy effect at times.

The US flag isn't the only one with these problems -- Liberia, Malasia, and some others have similar problems with the stripes (though their hoist-side boxes are not as busy as the US one).

The Canadian flag avoids the business and moire problems by keeping things simple, though my personal favourite national flag desin is the current Japanese flag. You can't get much simpler, or clearer, than that! The Swiss flag is a good one for clean design, too.

Wikipedia has a nice List of State Flags.

G said...

Live a good life. Live a quieter life. We don't have all the answers, we're just trying to do the best we can in an imperfect world. Join us and we'll work on it together.

A wonderful summation of everything Canada stands for. You truly belong here. :-)

L-girl said...

A wonderful summation of everything Canada stands for. You truly belong here. :-)

Thank you, G. I'm touched.

(In more ways than one... !)

deang said...

I felt the same way about the Canadian flag when I visited one year on Canada Day: It was prominently displayed in several places but I didn't mind it, thought it was tasteful and attractive. And, of course, there was no one waving it around in support of mass slaughter. For me, the fact that the maple leaf is an image from nature is important.

Turning US flag postage stamps upside down is a great idea. I normally can't bring myself to buy US flag postage stamps, but the idea of turning them upside down has tempted me. I'll wait til I run out of my Thurgood Marshall stamps.

L-girl said...

Turning US flag postage stamps upside down is a great idea. I normally can't bring myself to buy US flag postage stamps, but the idea of turning them upside down has tempted me. I'll wait til I run out of my Thurgood Marshall stamps.

I would only buy flag stamps if they were the only ones available. I would try for people like Marshall or Susan B Anthony, or else attractive nature stamps. The upside-down thing is a last resort - but a good one. The international symbol of distress.

I agree about the Maple Leaf as an image from nature, aboslutely.

L-girl said...

Or absolutely. One of those.

Mitch said...

The Maple Leaf flag is all I've ever known in terms of representing my country; my parents will remember the red ensign with the union jack.

The Maple Leaf, however, is identifiable anywhere in the world; its a conversation starter in foreign airports; beaches, mountains; hostels; and when Canadians do meet each other abroad, its almost like seeing long lost family, the connection is just that strong.

The flag itself may be simple, red on white; but its a powerful image as to what Canada is and who we, as Canadians, are.

Have you experienced a Canada day in Canada yet? if not, just wait. The University Students and youth, in their Roots Canada gear, flags waving, and faces painted truly represent the future of this country and aren't afraid to show it.

A friend of mine from OZ commented to me once, that she'd never seen so many shirts/hats/jackets that were patriotic anywhere in the world and that in Canada, unlike other countries, such patriotism is a positive thing and cannot be misconstrued as arrogance or ignorance; instead, its pride.

Sorry for the long spiel...but as another person said, you may have been born American, but you ARE Canadian, and frankly, that's a great thing.

James said...

The Maple Leaf flag is all I've ever known in terms of representing my country; my parents will remember the red ensign with the union jack.

Urban legend time: The previous $10 design (not the one with the hockey game on the back, but the previous one) was said to have shown a US flag flying over the Houses of Parliament! In actual fact, it was a Red Ensign, since the Houses were depicted as they were long before the Maple Leaf was adopted. The flag image is so small, though, that about the only detail that's visible is the Union Jack in the upper left corner, which looks like the stars feild from the Stars & Stripes. It's another episode in a long history of paranoia about US domination of Canada. :) Details at Snopes, as usual.

More trivia: in heraldry, a vertical stripe on a flag is called a "pale" (the French tricolour is made up of three pales, for example). The Canadian flag is technically described as a red flag with a maple leaf on a white pale, but with a twist: it's the only national flag to use a pale that's 1/2 the widge of the flag rather than 1/3. This format is known as a "Canadian pale".

Lone Primate said...

Canada's kind of a "just there" sort of country... the sort of place you tend to take for granted. Doesn't stand out too much, doesn't fall down a lot. But I think one of the few outstanding things we have going for us is the flag. More specifically, the striking iconography of the Maple Leaf. It can be put on anything and instantly makes a statement that's at once bold, and yet subtle. As a graphic element, can be modified in a number of ways, sometimes quite extensively, and yet remain recognizable -- which lends it to repeated, novel, and wide usage. For a symbol that was intially controversial -- to put it mildly -- it really came into its own very quickly and was nearly universally and wholeheartedly adopted by the country. It's simple and unique. It's something we can identify with and easily take pride in -- all of us, because it stands for our nationality, rather than our ethnicity.

The old Red Ensign had a lot going against it... it was easily confused with a number of other Commonwealth flags, it symbolically relegated Canada to an international position subordinate to Britain (particularly in American eyes), it offended French Canada and was a constant reminder of the Conquest, it was less than welcoming beacon to newcomers of non-British stock, it featured an overt Christian bent (the Union Jack is entirely composed of references to the patron saints of England, Scotland, and Ireland), and it did not easily recommend itself to iconographic application, since it was composed of a number of complicated elements that were irreducible. The new flag (well, new as of 1965) overcame pretty much all of that, with the possible exception of pleasing Quebec, who seem to have a unique talent for taking one step back for every step forward the rest of us take. But that in and of itself was no reason not to try, nor not to make the change for the other reasons I mentioned.

L-girl said...

when Canadians do meet each other abroad, its almost like seeing long lost family, the connection is just that strong.

What a nice thing to say.

in Canada, unlike other countries, such patriotism is a positive thing and cannot be misconstrued as arrogance or ignorance; instead, its pride.

It's a very big difference. Excessive flag-waving in the US makes me cringe. Depending on the circumstances, I feel either embarrassed or angry.

Of course, the flag-wavers feel pride, too. I just feel it's grossly misplaced pride, based on lies.

Sorry for the long spiel...but as another person said, you may have been born American, but you ARE Canadian, and frankly, that's a great thing.

Thank you so much, Mitch. That is really so sweet. And there is never any reason to apologize, you can go on as long as you like... :)

L-girl said...

James and Lone Primate, thanks for the info, both about the physical flag and the symbolic flag. Great stuff.

Jen said...

I just want to wish you the best in your move to Canada. I also agree with the other positive comments about the Canadian flag and what it represents. When we lived in Colorado, their state flag is fairly basic with the blue "pales" at the top and bottom, the red C with the yellow circle in the middle, like a modified Pac-Man eating the white "pale" in front of it. Basic and beautiful.

We moved back to Iowa where we have a complicated picture in the center of the flag with a farmer standing directly in front of an old plow. Horribly complicated.

If only Minnesota and Iowa were not a part of the Louisiana purchase... we might just be Canadian. :)

BTW, I had a dream, er nightmare this past weekend about US freedoms being stripped by the government, and I said "we are moving to Canada." We really aren't thinking about it, but the idea's been tossed around.

L-girl said...

Thanks much for your good wishes, Jen. Do let me know if your dream becomes prophetic.

mkk said...

Laura, I completely agree with your feelings about the US and Canadians flags, and I have enjoyed all the comments that followed.

I work in multiple schools in a public school district, where each morning, in every building, the students are expected to stand and salute the flag. I find this practice absolutely repulsive. The reference to God makes it that much worse. I always try to find a way to be where students are not present, so I don't have to pretend to be respectful.

James said...

When we lived in Colorado, their state flag is fairly basic with the blue "pales" at the top and bottom, the red C with the yellow circle in the middle, like a modified Pac-Man eating the white "pale" in front of it.

Just another trivia point: when the stripe is horizontal, it's called a "fess".

gito said...

I think I feel almost the same way. When I see the US flag I don't feel anger or frustration or anything really, I just see it as the US flag. I mean it brings me the thought of the United States, the country where I found the person I am in love with. But other than that I don't feel any bad feelings.
But when I see the Canadian flag it floods me with emotions in a very peaceful exiting way. It might be all the thought, time, money, effort, sacrifices, that we have put into this, that contributes to those feelings. But it does have a meaning to me. A beautiful one. One that I never felt before.

Sass said...

I've always preferred the Canadian flag, and, were I the type to get a patriotic tattoo, it would definitely not be the US one. Plus, I always had a problem with the term "spangled"...don't ask me why.

The working-class Americans ignorant enough to think the Republicans are on their side.

It's a stereotype, of course, but it's one that bears out more often than not.


Ok, this part I take a little personally. My mother is working class, and also a Republican. She really does believe that Republican values best represent her. And while it bothers me to no fucking end, I take exception to the idea that my mother, or others like her, are ignorant. I think the worst thing we, as liberals (yes, I add myself in this one) tend to do is make the brazen statement that because someone is working class, or black, or gay, or whatever, that somehow they have no choice but to side with Democrats. Almost no one in our government today represents the interests of the working class, especially not Democrats. Ok. Mom defended. Rant over.

L-girl said...

I work in multiple schools in a public school district, where each morning, in every building, the students are expected to stand and salute the flag. I find this practice absolutely repulsive.

That speaks well of you. :)

L-girl said...

Ok, this part I take a little personally. My mother is working class, and also a Republican. She really does believe that Republican values best represent her. And while it bothers me to no fucking end, I take exception to the idea that my mother, or others like her, are ignorant.

I think anyone who isn't wealthy who votes for the party that: hasn't raised the minimum wage since 1997, periodically tries to eliminate minimum wage laws altogether, tried to destroy social security, changed the bankruptcy laws to favor the banks over working people who face financial ruin, made it more difficult for workers to organize unions, and routinely enact laws that profit industry, insurance and banking concerns over working people to be ignorant.

It doesn't mean they're stupid. But it sure does mean they are ignorant.

I think the worst thing we, as liberals (yes, I add myself in this one) tend to do is make the brazen statement that because someone is working class, or black, or gay, or whatever, that somehow they have no choice but to side with Democrats.

Ah, but I never said that. I generally didn't vote Democrat either, and chose to support more progressive parties, and tried to get the Democrats to live up to their liberal roots.

I have very few good things to say about the Democrats. But just because they're not doing their jobs, doesn't mean the Republicans are representing working Americans.

If your boyfriend isn't listening to you and you're arguing, you don't leave him for a man who beats you, and say, well, my old guy wasn't doing so well anyway.

Gay people are another story entirely. I think gay Republicans are insane. Ignorant would be way too kind.

James said...

Ok, this part I take a little personally. My mother is working class, and also a Republican. She really does believe that Republican values best represent her. And while it bothers me to no fucking end, I take exception to the idea that my mother, or others like her, are ignorant.

The biggest problem, I think, is that "Republican values" and what the (current batch of) Republicans actually do are largely completely disjoint sets. I don't know if people's failure to realize this is due to ignorance, denial, wishful thinking, or being too trusting, but it's become a huge problem.

I may have posted this Kung Fu Monkey rant called I Miss Republicans before, but it's definitely worth reading.

More flag comments:

Something frequently overlooked by the anti-flag-burning crowd in the US is that the US Code which governs handling of the flag (and defines "desecration of the flag") includes the following as acts of desecration:

- Using the flag in advertising (how many flags do you see in commercials?)
- Using the flag as or on an article of clothing (how many flags do you see on t-shirts?)
- Writing on the flag (as George W. Bush does here)

I might start listening to their arguments when they stop desecrating their flag themselves...

I think advertising is full of a number of examples of the difference in attitude towards the two flags. Searching my memory, I can't think of an ad that features the Canadian flag flying proudly or such -- but you do see the iconic maple leaf used as a sort of branding logo. Molson Canadian and Roots come to mind as examples.

The US flag is often used simply to send a "You're not patriotic if you don't buy this!" message just like beer-ad models are used to send "You won't get laid if you don't drink this!" messages.

hemlock said...

It's funny.

For years I have felt a physical disgust whenever I see the US Flag. Olympic events, panned in shots on the news, other sporting events, etc, etc. I can't stand it and I mutter a little "f off" in my head every time I see it.

I think this is completely unfortunate because there are a bunch of great people living in the states, but they are completely overshadowed by the flag waving goons. (I'm not saying that all flag wavers are goons by the way...). And why did I use the word goon anyway? I dunno.

I digress.

I agree whole heartedly with mitch. Whenever I see a Canadian flag on someone's backpack or on someone's shirt, I feel a connection with them and hope they see my Canadian flag too.

Whenever I see the Canadian flag flying, I feel a very deep rooted sense of pride. That's something that certainly sets us apart. We show our pride intensely, yet quietly.

We are VERY different from the states, and I'm glad that people realize that.

I would not hesitate one nanosecond to correct someone if they called me american. I am NOT american and NEVER will be.

L-girl said...

I don't know if people's failure to realize this is due to ignorance, denial, wishful thinking, or being too trusting, but it's become a huge problem.

The reason I say ignorance is because the American public is so utterly uneducated about systems and laws that effect their lives. The media is complicit in this, and the consumer culture reinforces it, as does the whole constellation of myths about their country that Americans subscribe to, whether consciously or not.

Ask these working-class Americans why they vote Republican, and you hear the ignorance in their answers. They believe the lies and they have nothing else to go on.

I may have posted this Kung Fu Monkey rant called I Miss Republicans before, but it's definitely worth reading.

Oh yeah, you posted that before, I put it on my "read this one day" list - and eventually went back and read it. It was excellent.

Something frequently overlooked by the anti-flag-burning crowd in the US is that the US Code which governs handling of the flag (and defines "desecration of the flag") includes the following as acts of desecration...

Right. Here's a parallel Allan & I always talk about. If you bring a progressive POV into a baseball discussion, conservative folks will tell you to keep your politics (or propaganda) out of baseball, that has no place here. But God Bless America, "support our troops," gratuitous references to how great capitalism is, cheers for W - this is all just fine, regarded as neutral and perfectly ok to mix with the game.

The Baseball Hall of Fame was set to honor the movie "Bull Durham". Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon were uninvited to the event - celebrating their movie! - because they were speaking out against the war and this was "inappropriate" to mix with baseball. (When they went public about the disinvitation, the event was cancelled.)

A conservative acquaintance of mine told me it was disgusting and inappropriate of Robbins and Sarandon to use their celebrity to advance their own political agenda.

However, he sees nothing wrong with George Steinbrenner's constant pro-war presence at Yankee Stadium. George is just being patriotic.

L-girl said...

The US flag is often used simply to send a "You're not patriotic if you don't buy this!"

And sadly, that attitude is so omnipresent that I've had to reject the flag all together.

RobfromAlberta said...

For years I have felt a physical disgust whenever I see the US Flag. Olympic events, panned in shots on the news, other sporting events, etc, etc. I can't stand it and I mutter a little "f off" in my head every time I see it.

There's that world-class Canadian tolerance again. Where did I ever get that whole anti-Americanism notion from?

L-girl said...

There's that world-class Canadian tolerance again. Where did I ever get that whole anti-Americanism notion from?

I don't see that as anti-Americanism - which you yourself defined as disliking or denigrating an American individual based on their nationality.

The flag is a symbol of the US in the world, and as such, inspires quite a lot of disgust, or quite a lot of pride, depending on the perspective.

Feeling disgust at the symbol of the US is not the same thing as being bigoted against American people.

One needn't be tolerant towards a symbol!

RobfromAlberta said...

If an American said she gets nauseous every time she sees a Canadian flag, I wouldn't interpret that as a criticism of our foreign policy. That's much more visceral, that's hate.

Incidentally, it wasn't me who said anti-Americanism means you hate individual Americans for who they are. Collective hatred of Americans is anti-American too.

L-girl said...

Incidentally, it wasn't me who said anti-Americanism means you hate individual Americans for who they are.

Sorry about that. I could have sworn that's how you defined it, but I guess it was someone else.

If an American said she gets nauseous every time she sees a Canadian flag, I wouldn't interpret that as a criticism of our foreign policy. That's much more visceral, that's hate.

Perhaps I don't see it that way because I share the feeling.

I don't hate individual Americans, don't dislike them because they are American. I feel deep sympathy and a certain kinship with most Americans, as I do with most people.

But the American flag inspires feelings of disgust and embarrassment within me, because of what America symbolizes to me.

So I don't see the two as the same thing. But I understand that you do, and I don't need to argue with you about it.

Unless you bring it up. ;-)

mkk said...

Check out what David Brooks had to say in today's NY Times, regarding the desperation both Democrats and Republicans feel across the country.

October 20, 2005

Op-Ed Columnist


Scenes From a Meltdown

By DAVID BROOKS

"This country is in one heck of a mess."

If there is a single sentiment members of Congress heard while back in their districts this month, that was it.


In the past few days I've been speaking with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill (mostly Republicans) about the mood back home. I've learned that it's one thing to read in the paper that two-thirds of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. It's an altogether more bracing experience to go to town meetings and church and the supermarket and find this sentiment blasting you in the face.


The most interesting tales came from Republicans elected from districts President Bush carried by fewer than 10 points. Those districts were once moderately supportive of the president, but now, as one member of Congress said, the anger at Bush is so deep it's almost indescribable.


It's a generalized feeling of betrayal. At town meetings, big subjects like Iraq and the deficits barely come up. But there is a sense that this guy Bush promised to make us feel safe, and it's clear from the Katrina fiasco and everything else that we are not safe.


For Republicans from vulnerable districts in the Northeast and Midwest, the president has become, as another member put it, radioactive. These Republicans return from districts where they are being called upon to give back the money Tom DeLay raised for them, and go back to a Washington where G.O.P. indictments, and hence trials, promise to stretch on for years.


And yet Republicans are not panicked. They know that if the election were held today, their base would stay home, but they look over at the Democrats and say: Thank God for Nancy Pelosi. Thank God for Howard Dean. They see that Dean refers to his base as "merlot Democrats," and it confirms their suspicion that the opposition party is really run by imbeciles.


The odd thing is that the Democrats, who have the self-assurance of a beaten dog, feel this way about themselves. Most sense, in their heart of hearts, that they are the Palestinians of American politics: they'll never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The most common word I hear from Democratic partisans to describe their own party is "pathetic."


Indeed, when you look at the graphs showing both parties' approval ratings, it's like looking at a pair of expert-only ski slopes. A Pew Research Center poll showed the parties' approval ratings plummeting to around 32 percent - below their own bases.


So politicians are not panicked, but they are mobilized. They have just a few months to redefine themselves and avoid catastrophe. Over the next weeks, we are going to see an ideas race, as both parties hustle to get out new, positive agendas.


On the Democratic side, the party leadership is in control. To nationalize the election, Democrats are about to roll out a big agenda. Unfortunately, their big idea consists of Spending for Everything and a Return to Fiscal Restraint. The Democrats are promising universal health insurance, college for all, a Manhattan Project on energy and an end to runaway spending. This is using Teddy Kennedy means to achieve Robert Rubin ends. In a country disillusioned with parties, it's going to be a tough sell.


On the G.O.P. side, this is a moment of Republican glasnost. After years of following the leaders, Republicans are suddenly rebelling and innovating on all fronts. Conservatives like Mike Pence and moderates like Mark Kirk are joining forces to battle the old DeLay institutionalists to actually cut spending, including cuts in defense and veterans affairs. Orthodox conservatives are meeting with the renegade John McCain. Members from marginal districts are putting together agendas that will distance them from the dominant G.O.P. voices from the South and West.


The Republicans are going to end up localizing the election. Listening to constituents, these Republicans sense that people are exhausted by big visions and grand dreams. They want small, achievable ideas. The best ones I heard were from members who wanted to promote open-space initiatives and suburban livability, members who wanted to reduce medical paperwork. This is politics on the alderman level, but it's probably right for the moment.


Congress is polarized, but this isn't an ideological moment, liberal or conservative. It's a moment when voters want to know someone is running the country, that there's someone to project authority and take responsibility, to establish international and domestic order, so they can get on with their lives.

hemlock said...

Kinda feel the need to defend my comment.

NOTE: I DO NOT HATE AMERICANS!

I believe I stated that in my initial comment.

What I DO NOT LIKE (and am disgusted by) is how the American Flag is used.

In my humble opinion, it states "We are the USA. Rah rah rah. Everyone else sucks. Rah rah rah"...

I just don't like that being shoved down my throat every time I turn around.

Jenjenjigglepants said...

I love this blog. I've been skulking around for a few weeks, procrastinating from studying. Welcom to Canada L-girl.

I felt compelled to respond to this post. I also love the Canadian flag--I think it has a unique and instantly recognisable motif, and the Canadian pale trivia, it's great (good name for a beer too...).

One of my personal pet peeves however, is when people say (and I'm hard pressed to find it in these comments here much to everyone's credit) "The maple leaf was chosen because it is easily recognisable to all Canadians and represents Canada". Well, the alienated westerner in me just gets her hackles up (don't worry, she's a very wee, tiny bit of a thing--this isn't going to morph in to a National Energy Program rant).

It's a very eastern symbol and one that, as a child, was completely foreign to me outside of television. I think I was about 16 and in Montreal for a tournament when I first saw a red Maple Leaf in the flesh. I know maples don't grow in Saskatchewan or Alberta, there are some in B.C. but they were transplanted there from the east. Do they grow in Manitoba? Anyone know? What about norther Ontario? And they definately don't grow in the North.

However, I do understand that during the context of the times (early 1960's) when the contest for the flag was on, that the demographics and politics of the country were far different. And, that to find a truely "Canadian" plant that is ubiquitous through all regions would leave us with sphagnum moss, cottongrass or (dwarf) willow on our flag to hit those above-the-treeline regions.

The flag-on-the-backpack issue is another minor pet peeve for me (in some instances), and can be a pretty hot topic (there's a post from lonelyplanet.com's thorntree--at the bottom, I don't know how to make a link here). I always chose not to put a flag on my pack, figuring if people wanted to know about me they could just ask, leaving me with the ability not to disclose information (safety sometimes being a consideration). I met alot of people who--unlike the posters here, again to their credit--pretty much had the flag on their packs because they didn't want to be mistaken for Americans, and wanted people to assume they were polite and friendly. I always found this so, well, rude. Most (backpacker) folks, when pressed about their "Americans are always [insert negative comment here]" type attitudes would admit that they knew lots of great American people individually, but didn't like American policies or American ignorance about the rest of the world. Well, that's hardly a fair judgement to make about people that you are meeting in foreign countries as you are all out exploring the world!

I worked overseas in Switzerland and in Ireland for a couple of years and encountered lots of expat-type arguments between guests with boor-ish Canadians getting hotheaded (and coming off as insecure and defensive) about better healthcare, cleaner water, winter sports, whatever. Some of the biggest displays of ignorance the world over: drunk American and Canadian university kids duking it out over policies and systems. Yikes.

Anyways, sorry this ended up so long! Thanks for a great blog L-girl. Jen

Here's the Lonley Planet link: http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/messagepost.cfm?postaction=reply&catid=40&threadid=753565&messid=6401924&STARTPAGE=1&parentid=0&from=1

L-girl said...

LeafGirl, you don't need to defend your comments here. I, for one, totally understand what you meant.

You stumbled into a recurrent debate here, RobfromAlberta vs the rest of wmtc, subject, is there a lot of anti-Americanism among Canadians?

Personally, I don't see it, don't feel it, haven't run into it at all.

What I DO NOT LIKE (and am disgusted by) is how the American Flag is used.

In my humble opinion, it states "We are the USA. Rah rah rah. Everyone else sucks. Rah rah rah"...


I agree with you. It's the GNOTFOTE* syndrome.


* greatest nation on the face of the earth

hemlock said...

Maples do grow in Northern Ontario, Jenjenjigglepants, but I agree...it's not really a nationwide symbol.

What about the black spruce. It's Canada wide, isn't it??

Jenjenjigglepants said...

Hey LeafGirl,
No, it doesn't grow in the Arctic islands (i.e. above the tree line--along the coast in Alaska, the Yukon and NWT and swinging south to about the Thelon River in Nunavut and the northern most tips of the Ungava peninsula ). Dwarf willow is the only "tree" species up there and it grows along the ground between the rocks. jjjp

hemlock said...

Ah, but it's closer than the maple!!

As luck would have it...I don't think the leaf on the flag is a Sugar Maple (acer saccharum?) leaf anyway. I think I heard that somewhere.

RobfromAlberta said...

So I don't see the two as the same thing. But I understand that you do, and I don't need to argue with you about it.

In my humble opinion, it states "We are the USA. Rah rah rah. Everyone else sucks. Rah rah rah"...

I see it like this. If the situation were reversed, how would it make you feel? Would you be offended if someone said "Canada sucks!"? Would it compel you to want to change or to tell the other guy to go to hell?

By the way, what are we saying when we stick a maple leaf on our backpack?

hemlock said...

We are saying that we are Canadian and we are proud to be Canadian.

As for someone saying "Canada sucks", I would for sure be pissed.

I'm not saying the states sucks, but that I don't like the "in your face bravado" that the flag and many people take on.

I don't hate americans. I don't think they suck.

I don't like what their flag stands for.

That's it. That's all. I need to get back to work on my manuscript.

L-girl said...

Jen JJP, thanks for your kinds words about my blog!

Thanks also for sharing your thoughts about the maple leaf flag and the flag-on-backpack.

I find the idea of being pissed b/c the red maple leaf isn't found in the west amusing. Through this blog, I've seen a lot of the inter-province squabbling. From the outside, it looks highly silly, almost incomprehensible.

I don't know what you'd put on a flag that would truly symbolize every region of such an enormous and geographically diverse country. If the Maple Leaf is the flag of Canada, then it symbolizes all of Canada no matter where the actual leaf itself comes from.

Re flags on backpacks and other flag-waving, face-painting, etc. (I mean this in general, replying to comments by Rob, Mitch, LeafGirl, JenJJP and others), I personally wouldn't do that with any country's flag, including Canada's.

I like the Canadian flag and I am very proud to be here, but I would not identify myself with nationalism in any form. I would no more wear a country's flag on my backpack than I would wear a sticker that said "Jew" or "feminist" or "recent immigrant," although I am all of those things, proud of all and ashamed of none.

The whole thing about being afraid to be mistaken for American is a little over the top, IMO. It's like white Americans who are afraid to go into a mostly African-American neighbourhood. People are not sitting around waiting to knife you.

If you're afraid you'll be seen as rude and arrogant, be friendly and open, and that will be the end of it. If the other person is biased and can't see past your appearance, fuck 'em, they're not worth worrying about.

James said...

Do they grow in Manitoba? Anyone know?

Yup. In fact, there's a special species that grows there, the Manitoba maple, known as a weed. The Manitoba maple is a very shallow-rooted maple, so if it grows to full height a good stiff wind can blow it over; as a result, if you find one growing in your hard, you want to yank it before it gets too big!

What about the black spruce. It's Canada wide, isn't it??

Yeah, but a spruce needle (or some moss) doesn't really make a good icon on a flag. :)

Would you be offended if someone said "Canada sucks!"?

I'm ususally pretty indifferent -- I just disagree with them. Sometimes I'm amused, though, as in the "Soviet Canuckistan" case. Though, unfortunately, that sort of example doesn't do much to counter the "Ignorant American" stereotype.

Here's a Canadian traveller story:

My father was once in Switzerland, researching James Fennimore Cooper's book, The Heidenmauer. The title refers to an ancient wall in the Bavaria/Switzerland area.

While stoping at a little shop, it came out that he was Canadian (he wasn't wearing any pins or anything, though), and suddenly the almost stereotypically reserved and serious Swiss shopowner became all smiles and invited my father home for dinner!

It turned out that the shop owner's son had just returned from a Scouting trip to British Columbia and had had nothing but good things to say about Canada, and my father ended up spending the evening chatting with the shop owner about their two countries.

To top it off, the shop owner had prints of etchings of the Heidenmauer wall that dated back the visit Cooper had made which had inspired him to write the book! He made a gift of them to my father.

L-girl said...

I love that traveler story, James. Just great.

Would you be offended if someone said "Canada sucks!"?

I'm ususally pretty indifferent -- I just disagree with them. Sometimes I'm amused, though, as in the "Soviet Canuckistan" case. Though, unfortunately, that sort of example doesn't do much to counter the "Ignorant American" stereotype.


LOL! It's true, the O'Reilly types are saying Canada sucks all the time, they're saying France sucks all the time, they can't really talk about why, except to say "you're with us or you're our enemy" (or words to that effect). And it comes full circle - that attitude is part of what gives the American flag its negative connotations.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I haven't payed attention to this thread, but I'll be blunt. There is lots of anti-Americanism in the world, and Canada, but that's the price of being a world power. Too bad, so sad.

There's also a lot of anti-British, anti-French, anti-Japanese, anti-Turk, and anti-Russian sentiment floating around through various parts of the world. If your going to meddle, your going to be resented by the ones you're meddling with. Every world and regional power has thought they're the greatest, and all of them never understood why nobody else shared their high opinions of themselves. As China rises, they'll probably become egomaniacs as well (actually, my Chineese friends say they already are. But at the moment, the only ones who see it are the Chineese themselves).

James said...

I mentioned above that I just though the design of the US flag was unattractive, but it's miles ahead of this flag.

Ugh.

L-girl said...

I haven't payed attention to this thread, but I'll be blunt. There is lots of anti-Americanism in the world, and Canada, but that's the price of being a world power. Too bad, so sad.

Well, I don't think anyone was crying about it.

I haven't seen it myself, but if anti-Americanism (anti-British, anti-anything) takes the form of hating an individual because of the policies of her or his govt, that's just plain bigotry.

I mentioned above that I just though the design of the US flag was unattractive, but it's miles ahead of this flag.

That is ugly in every sense of the word. Talk about revulsion at the sight of something.

James said...

I meant to include a link to the article the flag photo came from. Sorry!

Cornelia said...

While personally I have neither an issue with the American flag nor the Canadian flag (nor the current German one - it's the colors from the attempt at the democratic revolution from 1848, which unfortunately didn't work out in several ways), I also think it's not okay at all (to put it mildly) that US High School students need to say every day you-know-what. Ugh, how very unpleasant!!! High School students often are in such a powerless and helpless position, at least that was my experience, so I tend to see it in that context, too. I am glad for each and every American (regardless of where they live at present!!! I'm sure you all get my point, right???) who can say that it didn't or doesn't bother him or her too much. It would be best if this was abolished, not much chance, though! Thanks so much, mkk and Laura for your thoughts on what the students at US High School need to say every day.

If a Canadian said she (or he) gets nauseous every time she sees an American flag (or the other way round...)...
That might spoil a vacation or business trip on the other side of the border a great deal, I fear. I hope nobody does get physically n...by what they obviously don't like at all, but just in case: While only dramamine is available over the counter against nausea, sickness and throwing up south of the border (without prescription), phenergan is available over the counter in Canada, too..., which means it could be bought north of the border before going stateside in advance and in a sufficient quantity! So be encouraged!!!






It's busy, with all those stripes and stars competing for attention. If you look at it from a distance, it has more the impression of pinkish mush with a blue bit.

The only element that's an appreciable fraction of the size of the overall flag is the blue field, and the stripes can give an unpleasant moire/shimmy effect at times.

So glad I needn't paint all those 50 stars!!! It would be a lot of work and I can't paint well in any case! Just kidding.


L-girl said...
A wonderful summation of everything Canada stands for. You truly belong here. :-)

Thank you, G. I'm touched.

I am so glad it has worked out for you that way, Laura. It is always best and way more fun (pursuit of happiness...?) to be able to live where one really wants to.

I would try for people like Marshall or Susan B Anthony, or else attractive nature stamps.

O wow, Susan B. Anthony stamps, how very cool!