Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The idol of the FLAG

Today I found out about this proposed Act to amend the Criminal Code to include as an offense, flag burning (Bill C-292):

56.1 (1) Every one who, without lawful excuse, willfully damages or destroys in any manner, burns or defaces, defiles, mutilates, tramples upon or otherwise desecrates the national flag is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction

(a) for a first offence, to a fine of $500; and

(b) for a second or subsequent offence, to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $15,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both

Nevermind freespeech, let us look at the icon of the flag. The Canadian Flag is an idol. We can see this in the Liberal party logo. We can see it in anti-sovereignty demonstrations in Quebec. We see it on backpacks everywhere. We esteem it.

One reason we esteem it is because the government tells us to. The government propogates the flag everywhere and tells us to believe in it and what it stands for. The problem I have with the Canadian flag is its origin:

It is a created. It is manufactured not organic. It is modern mythmaking. I feel no strong propensity toward the maple leaf. Sure it is Canadian. But it is NOT the same flag people died under in WWI and WWII, during the Boer war, during the depression, etc. Tradition is what binds us to our roots. We are our own mythmakers, it is true. However, successful myth requires some obfuscation and awe -- none of which is embodied in the maple leaf. Instead of being connected to the past, we are shackled to our immediate whims. Hell, why not change the flag in another 10 years once we find a flag that actually reflects the mood of the times?

If the Union Jack is the problem of the old flag, I really wonder why. We are, de facto, a British Colony -- not a multicultural venture where all peoples were included. It may surprise some to know that Canada has a real jaded 20th century of intolerance - including serious abuses of Ukranians, Jews, Japanese, and Chinese people. We should have kept the old flag, not to break with the past, but to remind us how far we have come since the past.

postscript: Apparently you are allowed to burn Canadian flags that have touched the ground or have been damaged.

Oh, and search Google Images for "flag burning" - the only ones being burnt are American and Israeli. Wierd.