Monday, April 17, 2006

Government vs nation

From a forum post:

"burning a flag is speech. It is expressing dissatisfaction with the government."

This is a typical (and topical) example of what's wrong with Americans' attitude to politics and government. The government is not the nation, and one would think that them lot would be the first to realize that. The flag is a representation of the country and the community of its people, the values and rules they have chosen to set for themselves. If you are burning a flag, you are not insulting the government, you are insulting the nation, and the nation is under no obligation to tolerate it. If you don't like the nation - move. (Burning other countries' flags is legal in Estonia. Burning its own is a misdemeanor and will get you a fine or up to 15 days in jail.)

Despite all of Americans' talk of democracy and how great their free country is, they seem fundamentally incapable of taking responsibility for it; they generally believe that there's the people, and then there's the government, which is occasionally necessary but overall an evil presense to be feared and opposed at every opportunity. Watching from a small country where in 15 years of independence there has never been a cabinet that lasted from one parliamentary election to another, this seems preposterous. The government is a representative of the people, and if you don't like it, you don't go out and burn flags - you fucking change the government. If, despite your best efforts, you still get what you think of as the "bad" administration, you just shut the fuck up and live with it, admitting that you're in the minority, most people in your country want to live under Bush and there's nothing you can do about it, except move to Canada.

But for fuck's sake, stop talking of the government as a foreign conqueror from your sworn enemy (Texas) forcing an alien way of life and set of values upon you.

And don't insult the nation. There's a very good saying about this, left over from the Soviet days: "If you spit at the community, the community wipes it off. If the community spits at you, you drown."

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