Flags in NJ & USA: It’s complicated, Part III

What is it about these scraps of cloth, with their symbols or words, that stir in us such pride or anger? These is Part III in Bill’s series on flags. Bumped from Sunday. – Rosi


Contemporary issue-oriented flags are particularly popular now. They are supplemented by placards, lawn signs, lapel pins and more. The above lawn sign speaks to several wide-ranging hot-button concerns. It calls for pride, advocacy, power, tolerance and common sense. Available as a yard sign here. ‘Signs of the times” is the theme of Part III – a collection of signs that captivate our conscience in these troubled times.

The earliest flags begin in ancient Middle East and China. To the left is the flag of Babylon, which existed about 4,500 years ago. It looks remarkably similar to current flags.

Below are flags, lawn signs and images that reflect our times and communicate our concerns.  No home is complete without one or more of them.

Among many flags for women’s power, this historic one says, “No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her – Susan B. Anthony 1872.” See 89 Badass Feminist Signs From The Women’s March On Washington. See Senator Loretta Weinberg’s 2016 Women’s Power List here. See other flags and signs here.

 

A flag that has taken on importance (and controversy) in our recent culture as Americans increasingly realize that discrimination against Blacks is all too real in police actions, the court system, housing, schools, jobs and beyond. In contrast some people say “ALL LIVES MATTER” which is true but is often used  to demean and minimize the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement. Just last week officials who walked off the field at a N.J. football game made racist comments on social media, because two players kneeled during the national anthem. The flag can be purchased here.

This flag has a storied history: how one flag went from representing farmworkers in the US to flying it for the entire Latino community. Today Latino/Latina immigrants continue under attack from the Trump administration. Arrests have increased substantially, and the status of Dreamers is uncertain. In spite of threats from the US Justice Department many municipalities are naming themselves Sanctuary Cities and in varying degrees are refusing to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As of 2014 the total Hispanic population in New Jersey was 1,730,000.

This Muslim League Flag is frequently seen in protests against Trump’s Muslim ban, which so many Americans find wrong and which courts found to be unlawful. Trump called for intensive monitoring of Muslim-Americans, and has repeated a widely debunked myth that throngs of Muslims in Jersey City celebrated on Sept. 11, 2001. Gov. Christie, once hailed as a defender of local Muslims, later while seeking the presidency, opposed resettling Syrian refugees in New Jersey. Nonetheless NJ organizations have been providing housing and resettelment efforts for these refugees. Paterson has the second-largest Muslim population in the United States by percentage.  Prejudice continues lurking in NJ. After years of Bernards Township denying Muslims a mosque, in May a court determined the town must allow the Mosque to be built and must pay them $3.25 million.

Transgender people (the T in LGBT) have long faced rampant discrimination. In 2014 Attorney General Holder determined that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of sex discrimination. President Obama, the Department of Education and The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed. The attitude toward transgender people on the part of corporations and individuals began to improve. More recently Trump’s Justice Department reversed Holder’s ruling, and Trump announced he would  reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military. In late October a federal judge blocked Trump’s ban. In NJ Gov. Christie signed a bill that  requires the state education commissioner to draft specific guidelines to help schools address “the needs” of transgender students and establish policies that “ensure a supportive and nondiscriminatory environment.” The battle for transgender rights is far from over. You can buy the Transgender Pride flag here.

No collection of flags would be complete without an anti-Trump one. There is no such official flag but here is one from Amazon. Fly it with pride.

 

 

 

Available primarily as a lawn sign, it seems to be everywhere in Teaneck and you may see it in your town. I used to have this lawn sign but it was destroyed not by a hateful person but by an errant lawn mower. Underneath it repeats its message in several languages. You can download it for free here, purchase it as a postcard here or buy it in bulk and distribute it to neighbors here.

 

 

Earth Day is now a global event with 192 countries participating to advance sustainability. It is a day of political action and civic participation. Climate literacy is now recognized universally as important, but not so much by our Trump Administration. Our own governor has issued contradictory statements on climate change and has provided only weak support for the environment. In contrast Phil Murphy promises to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and to protect the environment. We treasure the Pinelands, the Barrens, and the Delaware bayshore which have some measure of protection, but threats remain. Opinions on climate change largely follow partisan lines and a dire new report is unlikely to reset the political debate. Ultimately the effort is up to all us if we want to save the only home we have for future generations. You can purchase the flag here.

The power of flags has remained throughout the ages and continues today. “That great mass of fluttering colors in all shapes, sizes and design is far more meaningful than decorative, for every flag is a communication from one human being or group to another.” Advocate for your cause(s) by letting your neighbors and passersby know where you stand on pressing issues. Fly your flag(s) with pride.

For Part I of this series which deals with flags that I fly, one that I would like to fly but don’t, and one that would have been dangerous to fly in the past, go here. For Part II, which deals with the flag of a country which successfully resisted US power, one friendly to the US which Trump denigrates, a suffering territory which he demeans, one of many flags I would never fly, and one flag that could save the world, go  here.

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