Wave That Flag, Wave It Wide and High


There's a link rich post up at Daily Kos on conservative outrage over the prevalence of Mexican flags at the recent protests against legislation that would crack down on illegal immigrants. It got me thinking about a little thought experiment: Imagine you've got a community of proud Americans living abroad for whatever reason, say in England. And suppose that even if they're perfectly happy there and doing what they can to fit in to their adopted society, their identities as Americans remain important to them. Now imagine—and this shouldn't be a stretch—that they begin to feel as though they're under attack as Americans, that the prevailing attitude in the country has become anti-American. They respond by staging a rally at which they wave lots of American flags, asserting their pride in who they are and where they've come from. Do the people who're livid over the Mexican flags find any part of this offensive?

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  1. Paging Lone Wacko, paging Lone Wacko . . .

  2. Are we assuming they are in England say legally?

  3. If the Americans waving the flags were in Britain illegaly, they would be arrested, then deported. Do I think Brits would be offended by illegal Yanks telling them what British law should be? Yes, I do.

  4. Are we assuming that they are claiming large swaths of England are U.S. lands because there ancestors were forced to leave and go to the “new world?”

  5. are we assuming they are just waving the Stars and Stripes and not defacing the Union Jack as well?

  6. Thanks for the appeal to sanity, but it looks like the answer is “yes”.

  7. As a committed assimilationist, I would find it necessary to learn English, start saying “colour” and “flavour,” let my teeth rot, and develop a taste for poorly-prepared bland food. And also rewire my car for more frequent breakdowns.

    Anything less would be rude on my part as a resident of that fine nation.

  8. This band sucks.

  9. Are we assuming they immigrated with the help of a handy U.S. government produced guide on how to successfully enter England illegally?

  10. Wow this post is really going to bring out the whackos.

    For what it’s worth, this whole “I’m offended by the flying of other flags” is just another BS excuse to justify and promote racism.

    Anyone who gets offended because immigrants fly flags that aren’t the American flag had better be just as uptight whenever they see a damn confederate flag being waved at rallies. Flying that is more offensive than waving a mexican flag.

  11. I found that DailyKos post to be pretty disingenuous — on the right-wing blogs I read, the talk has not been about the existence of Mexican flags at the protests but about the rather extremist signage. I just finished writing about this myself a few moments ago here.

  12. “Michelle Malkin (who is leading the crusade against the flags online) remarked “Mexican flags and signs advocating ethnic separatism and supremacy filled the landscape.”

    Wait, that’s too rich. Near to Julian’s point: what if those same mexicans were waving American flags? Wouldn’t that also “advocate ethnic separatism and supremacy”? I mean, using Malkin’s twisted, fucked-up logic, anytime anyone waves a flag to show pride in their country and their culture, they’re “advocating ethnic separatism and supremacy”. So, Michelle, all these fucking idiot hicks driving around in pickup trucks plastered to the gills with American flags…how are they any better?

    Fuck, why is Michelle Malkin allowed out of the nuthouse?

  13. Are we assuming that they are claiming large swaths of England are U.S. lands because there ancestors were forced to leave and go to the “new world?”

    Seriously, do intelligent people believe this? Is this a legitamite fear? Is there a plan to take back the southwest with the assistance of illegal gardeners, busboys and housekeepers?

  14. Illegal immigrants to Britain (a.k.a. “asylum seekers”) keep a pretty low public profile. I’m not sure how many are actually deported, but the issue is constantly in the news, and serves as a rare differentiator between Labo(u)r and the Tories.

    Which is to say, they don’t have a good answer, either.

  15. Evan, what makes you think “advocating ethnic separatism and supremacy” modifies “flags and signs”, and not just “signs”?

    That is, I read it as [Mexican flags] and [signs advocating ethnic separatism and supremacy], rather than [Mexican flags and signs] [advocating ethnic separatism and supremacy].

  16. Just go back a few weeks and you’ll find all their outrage at the Bostonians, New Yorkers, Chicagoans, and others around the country who were showing the Irish flag and even wearing green in order to be subversive even where a flag would be out of place.

  17. “Do the people who’re livid over the Mexican flags find any part of this offensive?”

    A more relevant quiestion would be if the English find it offensive? Or, say, if the Americans were in Mexico City.

    I live in a very Mexican part of Phoenix (yeah, yeah, it’s the “I’m not a racist” disclaimer)and I don’t mind the many Mexican flags around. But when coupled with “This is OUR homeland” rhetoric, as seen in many pictures from LA last week, yeah, I do find that offensive.

  18. Eric:

    After looking through the “Gran Marcha” photo gallery, I think I’m forced to agree with you. Goddamn, can’t we have a serious debate on immigration? One side is wacko-wacko, blathering on about how immigrants are killing our culture, which is a hodgpodge already. The other side is…well, wacko-wacko, if that photo gallery is any indication. I may be against this “build a big wall and keep ’em all out” brand of immigration policy, but, come on, do you think anyone is gonna take you seriously when you come marching down the street asserting that you are the “true owners” of America?

  19. Flying the Mexican flag in California is far more akin to flying the Confederate Flag in Alabama than it is to flying a US flag in England. Americans often forget, but Mexicans do not, that California was part of Mexico and was basically seized by the US in an act of war. Flying the Mexican flag in California, New Mexico or Arizona is not like flying a Mexican flag in New Hampshire. Imagine the difference between flying a German flag in Stockholm, or flying one in Gdansk.

  20. Evan,

    Did you read the signs in the LA demonstration, or just read the LA Time’s account of it? There were actual ethic separates and supremists in numbers there, advocated nothing less than the absorbsion of the SW USA by Mexico, as it’s “theirs”. Getting upset about that isn’t crazy in the least, but pretty normal and mainstream. These people really are the avowed enemies to the United States government, if usually non-violently so. It’s the definition.

    She is given to hyperbole, like most pundits are, but that’s a discussion on the sheer numbers, not the presence of those signs.

  21. I’ve only been casually following this whole flag brouhaha, doesn’t seem like too big a deal, but flying the mexican flag over the american on american soil is offensive imo, story here, granted that was a bunch of high school students, and i think the reaction was shitty too, but sanchez, nobody flies the american flag in other countries, they fly the maple leaf! Only time you see the american flag in other countries is when its being burned 😉

    BTW, edward james olmos is a badass, ‘It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?’

  22. All these protests have more to do with the US dominating Mexico in soccer in recent years — a few days before the protests Mexicans saw the US enter the top five of football clubs while Mexico was lingering in 8th — our 8th most popular sport is still better than their national obsession — that will your goat.

    That and the immigration thing.

  23. Imagine you’ve got a community of proud Americans living abroad for whatever reason, say in England

    They would be Americans, not British and the Brits would have every right to them out of the arses if they grew tired of the Americans borish behavior. That is the whole point of immigration versus colonization. When you colonize somewhere you bring your culture from back home and enforce it on the locals. When you immigrate, you are to the best extent possible supposed to leave your culture and loyalties behind and assimilate with the local population.

  24. Jason:

    As I noted, once I saw the photo gallery of the Gran Marcha, things looked a bit different.

    However, none of this was mentioned by Malkin in her WashTimes op-ed piece. So, if Eric hadn’t pointed me to those pictures, I’d not have known. Sloppy, yes.

    At the same time, it’s assinine for anyone to accept these separatist/supremacist fucks as actual legitimate players in the immigration debate. They should be marginalized, along with the “we should just deport 12 million people” camp, too. It just seems like Malkin and her ilk want to use these weirdos as fodder to support their argument…when, really, it has nothing to do with this debate…just like the “kill whitey!” blacks had nothing to do with serious civil rights debate. If Malkin et al were just arguing against these folks in particular, then that’d be fine. But her Washtimes op-ed tries to transpose their obvious racism onto the broader anti-anti-immigration side.

  25. Evan,

    I agree that we should not make policy decisions based on the extremes. I don’t think that it is entirely clear that huge illegal immigration is in our best interests. We can’t admit everyone. Further, we have to insist on assimilation. First, for the immigrants own good. Yes, you can live in the U.S. and never learn to speak English and be happy, as long as you don’t have any ambition to be anything but a housecleaner or migrant worker. We are not doing immigrant’s any favors by letting them set up their own enclaves and not assimilate into society. Second, we cannot have a functioning democracy with a huge section of the population poor and unassimilated. South Africa is a good example of where this leads. The vast majority of South African blacks immigrated there during the 19th Century from central Africa looking for work. When Europeans first landed there in the 15th Century, there were a few bush tribes but that is it. In response to black immigration, white South Africans enacted a system of apartheid which was really just an evil guest worker program. Blacks could come there and work, but they had to live in ghettos and settlements and could never assimilate and become a part of the larger white society. The whole point was to keep them from competing with native white workers. The blacks stayed because the economic prospects in South Africa were better than other places even under that horrid system.

    I worry that if we do not do something insist on assimilation, we are going to end up with a perminant alien Spanish speaking underclass. I don’t see how American society and democracy as we know it could continue under such circumstances. The country can only assimilate so many people at once. We can’t assimlate the entire country of Mexico. There has to be some control on it. Moreover, we need to let skilled Mexicans in legally and not just the poor and the desparate. As it stands now it is practically imposible to immigrate legally. Since skilled Mexicans would not take the jobs available to illegals, we just get the unskilled. To assimilate properly there has to be a mix.

  26. Do the people who’re livid over the Mexican flags find any part of this offensive?

    I wasn’t livid, just a little dismayed and faintly annoyed, especially when even the photographers taking pictures of seas of Mexican flags dotted with occasional Stars and Stripes kept saying the numbers were equal or that more American flags were actually out.

    But, I could very easily understand that if Brits were toughening laws to keep illegal American immigrants out, and a bunch of legal and illegal American immigrants (as well as nationalized citizens of the UK) marched around London with US flags and a rather significant number of signs demanding that the Brits get out of their own country, that the Brits might look askance upon that.

  27. I saw those pictures too, and there was a number of pictures that showed a lot of American flags being waved by the protestors in a patriotic way. Just cherry picking the pictures to support your argument is completely slimy.

  28. Correction:

    …Just cherry picking the pictures to support your argument is completely slimy.
    This is not directed at Evan, it should read

    Just cherry picking the pictures to support an agrument is completely slimy

  29. For years, I’ve done my small part to make foreigners welcome and comfortable in the US. I was overjoyed when I heard/read about the surprising number of Mexicans willing to march here and wave their flag.
    I continue to be amazed at how many Reasonoids! have a sweaty sphincter about borders that are not secure.

    Borders should not be in a Reasonoid vocabulary.

  30. Julian: kudos on referencing my fave GD song!

  31. Nice comment Ruthless.

    As an Eastern European, I find the level of hipocrisy in America amazing when it comes to immigration.

    I mean, here is a nation made entirely of immigrants. And the children of those immigrants want to shut the door to anybody willing to enter America.

    So what if some Mexicans flags were waved? Big fucking deal. It’s a piece of coloured cloth, people.

    And why do you people think South Americans are the only ones willing to go to America? Sure, they’re just south of the border, but all borders are inventions.

    What about Eastern Europeans, Asians and/or Africans? Don’t they deserve a chance at an honest life in a new country? Or do you think they are unworthy of the privilege of living in America, just because they were born in the wrong place?

  32. I don’t think any Mexican immigrant really wants California or Arizona to become part of Mexico again, unless they’re really stupid. If that happened, after a few years those states would start to become like Mexico and people would have to cross the fence into Kansas or Oregon looking for a better life.

  33. This is whole U.S. Vs. Mexican flag meme is fast becoming the post-Holiday “War On Christmas.” Beseems weaving the red, white, and green is the equivalent of saying “Happy Holidays” to Bill O’Reilly.

    It’s so nice to know that the Right can still find something to be mindlessly indignant about.

  34. I was at dinner a few nights ago (not British food, thank you) while the typical pro and con arguments were flying back and forth. Unfortunately, as things were simmering down, someone asked me my views. As libertarians, I suppose we’re overly familiar with the feeling of being hated by both sides.

    The SY Immigration Plan:

    1. Unlimited immigration.
    2. No birthright citizenship except when at least one parent is a citizen.
    3. No welfare or other handout benefits to non-citizens (yeah, wouldn’t it be nice to end them altogether…).
    4. No public-funded language accomodations.
    5. Complete right to work, given a willing employer.
    6. Citizenship eligibility once $xxxxx are paid into tax and social welfare coffers.

  35. Hmm..interesting scenario Julian..but let’s make it a little more realistic now..

    Let’s imagine I’m in said county ILLEGALLY..

    Let’s assume I’ve bypassed all those rather difficult requirements that those other “poor saps” (maybe brits to use your example) have had to deal with..

    So then I decide to start waving my native country’s flag in your face complaining about the way you run your country..declaring my “rights”..

    So yes, I might expect some people to find that scenario offensive…but hey, it’s maybe just me..

  36. I was so tempted to say, “Si, Sy,” but citizenship is like marriage.
    I don’t want governments messing with it.

    Just get “border” out of your mind. Unclinch sphyncter.

    There is such a thing as a “lifeboat syndrome.” It often makes the most recent immigrants the most rabid about keeping the “next” immigrant out.

  37. I mean, here is a nation made entirely of immigrants.

    How stupid are you? If you were born here, you are not an immigrant. By your definition, all people everywhere except for a small region of Africa where humans evolved are immigrants.

    I’m not offended by the Mexican flags, but I do think those waving them are morons. If Mexico is so great, why are they here?

    If I could identify a nation better than the US, I’d immigrate there as quickly as possible (if allowed). Once there, I’d do my best to assimilate into the culture. If their country is better, why would I want it to be like America?

  38. your analogy don’t cut it… don’t even come close.

    first of all, you assume that those marching were illegal immigrants… or immigrants even. where did you get that from? the protests down here in el paso were made up from mostly middle class AMERICANs of Hispanic descent; assimilated I might add. some of whom have been here long before “Americans” were here. i would reckon to say that the protests elsewhere reflected the same demographic.

    your analogy also fails to take into account that the American southwest (and many of the people therein) was conqured from Mexico. Americans protesting in England is a far cry from Americans of Hispnaic descent protesting in the US. a better analogy would be kurds protesting in turkey or iraq or a palestinian raising the palestinian flag in israel.

    on flags- the mexcian flag is used by u.s. born Hispanics to represent culture, heritage, and identity and not so much to represent the country of Mexico. anyway, i wonder if the outraged are as outraged by the flying of the rebel stars and bars which is quite abundant in many corners of the country. the stars and bars represetns oppression and subversion; the mexican flag represents- well, being conqured.

    like the sign said:

    here first. here to stay. get used to it!

  39. Jeez, there was a handful of Mexicans in the American SW. There were significantly more American Indians in the region. We didn’t take it from Mexico, we took it from the Indians.

    It’s amazing how many idiotic arguments exist on both sides of the immigration issue. But, what else is new?

    (Should Mexico be given back to the Aztecs? Should much of Europe be given back to the Celts? All this bullshit will only lead to more, not less war in the future.)

  40. John, I lived in Mexico for 12 months. NO skilled Mexican would NEED to immigrate! Servants, pools, lujo, aaaah… Also, as a Libo, what’s the big deal on flags? Support a flag and you support…surprise…a STATE! I would much prefer to be in a horizontal, economic association rather than be a serf in a vertical political system.

  41. Should Mexico be given back to the Aztecs?

    Or Spain.

  42. Just to throw a little twist in this, a British friend of mine frequently reminds me that the East Coast of the US is one of the world’s prime hotspots of terrorist funding activity.

    No, I’m not talking about the Muslim immigrants. I’m talking about the people who have sent money to the Irish Republican Army.

    You could make a good case that certain pale-skinned Americans are a bigger threat to England than busboys and gardeners are to America.

    So I guess the Brits would be justified in regarding their American visitors as a threat, if you go for the whole profiling thing.

  43. I sincerely hope all the Americans here will enjoy living in the biggest fucking banana republic on the face of the globe. ‘Cause that is exactly what you’re going to end up with! And probably sooner than you’d think.

  44. I thought we were already living in a banana-republic-like place.

  45. I think we should live in an Abercrombie and Fitch.

  46. I don’t find the Mexican flags offensive. I just don’t think it makes any sense. If I’m trying to convince the British government to grant me citizenship in spite of the fact that I entered their country illegally, I probably wouldn’t do well to protest with an American flag, and say that it is my right, as an American.

  47. I lived in London for about ten years as a legal resident (my, then girlfriend, now wife was an illegal American). I can tell you that the Home Office was a source of constant fear for us. They don’t mess about when it comes to deportation. My best friend was a Bulgarian illegal who shared this bit of advice with me: “always walk close to black men. If they are going to do a stop and search, they’ll be stopped first.” Here was my Bulgarian mate Ivan walking around South London following black men… I knew an American woman who had married an Englishman some 20 years earlier. They had a daughter in college in the UK and she deceided to become legal. She went in to the Home Office and they promptly deported her. They told her to apply properly from the UK consulate in NY and she might get back within 6 months or a year. Fuck’s sake! Imagine if we did that here. I’m not advocating this kind of enforcement, I’m just pointing out that we are quite lax here. From what I’ve heard, Continental Europe is at least as stringent.

    Personally, I’d favour opening up all the borders between the nominally English speaking countries for trade and labour.

  48. I find nationalists, sepratists, assimilists, xenophobes, mexicans, americans, mexican-americans, immigrants, citizens, government and hypocrites all offensive.

  49. Daniel:

    Czy jestes polakiem?

  50. Daniel:

    Czy jestes polakiem?

  51. I think we should live in an Abercrombie and Fitch.

    I almost capitalized banana and republic to “catalyze” such a response. I should’ve known you’d come up with something good, thoreau.

  52. It’s nice to talk about what offends people, but not much can be done about peoples’ opinions. We should focus more on why conservatives want to deport people who offend them. I accept that many people are backwards; I merely want to minimize their impact.

  53. Woo I think I said “people” two times too many. Must be my inner egalitarian.

  54. Jacek : no, I’m Romanian. But does it matter?

    The Real Bill : I’m not, but you sure are. I won’t try to refute your arguments, since any man who claims America is not a nation of immigrants has clearly lost all touch with reality.

  55. You want a thought experiment? Come to Phoenix and hang out of the west side for a month, then tell us what you think.

  56. You are making a false analogy. In your example the americans are not asking the host country to open their door to unlimited immigration of americans.

    No one complains if people wave Irish flags on St Patricks day or Mexican americans wave Mexican flags in a parade celebrating a Mexican holiday. However waving mexican flags on a protest against US legislation is a different thing.

    They are implying Mexican nationality is more important than US national interest. This is what upsets other americans, not just conservatives.

  57. I’ve lived my whole life, sans college, in eastern Massachusetts. During that period, I have heard someone complain about people flying Rupublic of Ireland flags exactly once. BTW, there are tens of thousands of paperwork-deprived America-joiners in eastern Massachusetts.

  58. BTW, there are tens of thousands of paperwork-deprived America-joiners in eastern Massachusetts.

    Damned portuguese

  59. We should focus more on why conservatives want to deport people who offend them.

    Conservatives want to deport them, liberals want to silence them or jail them…

    Either way – neither side deals with people that offend them.

    They all offend me – I’d like to deport them all.

  60. http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=7522

    I think the primary reason Republicans want to deport illegal immigrants is because the proposed reform puts them ahead of those who wish to come legally.

  61. Thoreau:

    i’ve heard that rumor, too – but have also heard it’s a myth.

    those brits 🙂

  62. You should have seen how pissed off I was On St Patrick’s Day

  63. Americans often forget, but Mexicans do not, that California was part of Mexico and was basically seized by the US in an act of war.

    [Bearer Of Inconvenient Facts mode]

    Actually, the US government didn’t orginally want the land. The US diplomat who negotiated the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo disobeyed Washington and negotiated the cession of the southwest to the US in exchange for a $15 million payment to Mexico.

    While that might not sound like much, adjusting for inflation it becomes several billion dollars today, paid for land that at the time was largely considered to be worthless and uninhabitable.

    There was also the Gadsen Purchase, where the US government bought the land south of the Gila river in Arizona in 1854 without any threat of military action.

    [/Bearer Of Inconvenient Facts mode]

  64. IMO, much of the outrage was related to the fact that media was strongly playing up the America flag waving while ignoring the Mexican flags. One tv broadcast comes to mind: when they were doing closeups, it was almost exclusively clusters of American flags, but when they pulled back you could see as many if not more Mexican flags.
    Also, yes, there are people who go way too far and probably have agendas forming their arguments, but these “conservatives so bad” arguments (for that matter other generalizations) sweep up a bunch of other people for no reason but a couple of keywords. You have heard it before, and you can ignore it again if you have already internalized it.

  65. This issue reminds me of the uproar over Houston originally naming its MLS team “1836 Houston”, allegedly in response to a poll of proposed names.

    1836 just happens to be the year of Houston’s founding as a city. It also is the year Texas declared its independence from Mexico. Further (and this is where the uproar came from), it is the year that it all went down the shitter as far as Mexico’s territorial holdings in the now-American SW.

    This was the year of the Battle of San Jacinto which got the ball rolling with Sam Houston’s defeat of Santa Ana (almost universally regarded as an asshole butcher in MEXICO, never mind the US).

    So some guy in a quasi-tabloid Spanish-language daily paper in Houston decides (after the naming) that Mexican- and Texican-Americans in Houston should feel mortally wounded by this name, which was cleared with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and generally available for ridicule/comment for a full month before the official selection. No similar grievance seems to have been made regarding LIVING in the city named after the guy who defeated their “beloved” Santa Ana.

    At any rate, the front office pussed out and renamed the team a vague and Soviet-sounding “Dynamo”, all at the behest of a population (Mex-American) demonstrated over the past 10 years to stay away from MLS in droves. In other words, they responded to a group largely not considered their potential customers.

    Good thing they opened with a 5-2 win this weekend, so everyone can forget all this stupidity.

  66. Daniel:


  67. Jacek :

    What exactly is your problem? I looked up “zyd” in a dictionary and it says it means “Jew”.

    No, I am not a Jew. But what if I were? And why do you keep asking questions in Polish? It seems you understand English.

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