Strategies: Part IV – Big Visible Symbols of the American Commitment to Diversity

I am an Israelite myself
a descendant of Abraham
from the tribe of Benjamin
– ROMANS 11

I have identified five symbols that I suggest we organize around, in the response to Trump’s election, and that disperse as widely and visibly as possible. All were chosen because they are either central, longstanding American symbols, or philosophically significant revisions of the same.

The Flag of All Americans: Inspired by a poem by Pete Seeger, this is an American flag that replaces the original seven white stripes with ones suggesting the entire wide range of skin tones found in America.

The image is available under Creative Commons licensing, it can be freely used and adapted without cost. I’d like to see artists producing multiple versions, or mounting entire exhibitions featuring it. I’d like to see it printed on t-shirts. I’d like to see people flying it outside their houses. I’d like to see it flying over businesses and city halls. I’d like to see it given protected legal status as an official variation on the American flag. I’d like to see it adopted as the new, twenty-first century version of the American flag, symbolic of a modern nation, not an antiquated one.

#FlagForAllAmericans

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A note on the flag – A good friend asked me if I wasn’t afraid tampering with the flag would just embolden the nationalists and get them even more worked up. Here was my response:

I’m sensitive to the vital necessity of not antagonizing people of a different viewpoint (in fact, I wrote a new post today about the importance of reaching out to Trump voters). However, the flag concept is not outreach. It is for people who do already believe in a diverse America. It is deliberately provocative because I think we cannot just go on in the same way and expect things to be different. If America is truly committed to being a diverse nation, it needs to show it. The other side is already plenty emboldened as it is.

The Declaration of Interdependence: Drafted during the great world war against Nazism and fascism, this multicultural update of the Declaration of Independence was officially entered into the Congressional Record in 1945. I’d like to see it signed and ratified by government officials at every level of government.

America the Beautiful: Protesting the National Anthem paints the protestor as the outsider, in implicit rejection of the nation. The insider’s move is not to protest the anthem, but to change it.

Many people don’t realize that the Star Spangled Banner was enshrined as our national anthem relatively recently (1931), by a notoriously racist president, and not without controversy due to its war-focused lyrics. America the Beautiful was previously used unofficially as the nation’s anthem, and many people have long wished to see it restored. I’d like to see new versions of this song recorded in every genre, from country to rap. If it tops the charts, that will send a clear message, and pave the way for restoring it to its rightful place.

(Alternate: Lift Every Voice and Sing)

The Statue of Liberty: A core symbol of American patriotism, the Statue is also an explicitly pro-immigrant icon. The image needs to be widely promoted, always together with the relevant quote from the poem on its base:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free


statue_of_liberty_breathe_free

As the white nationalists have long realized, symbols are powerful, and people draw courage from them. By promoting these symbols, we strengthen our cause, and send a message to the nation and the world.

Sanctuary Cities: Since the 1980’s, thirty cities across the nation have declared themselves “sanctuary cities”, safe havens for immigrants (although the concept itself goes back much further, to the Biblical “Cities of Refuge”). As you can see if you follow the above link, it includes all the most important United States cities, and thus encompasses an huge swath of the American population. It’s an important statement of moral freedom and independence.

Finally, if your city is not on the list, make sure it gets on it before January 20th. There might come a time when more people than just immigrants are in need of a declared safe refuge.

2 Responses

  1. Kristy Copeland says:

    Hi Chris – Nice to “meet” you. Your sister shared this post with me. I think you are SPOT ON about these symbolic ideas.

    I was just reflecting on how quickly protestors are dismissed as “unAmerican” and conversely how much domestic and foreign violence is legitimized by patriotic rhetoric. It would be useful as a movement to reclaim patriotism and emphasize its links compassion, inclusion and social justice.

    The Statue of Liberty is a brilliant symbol to represent support for immigrants and sanctuary cities. In addition, her tablet represents justice while her broken chains represent freedom from oppression and her torch demonstrates the power of light and hope over darkness and despair.

    While a traditional American flag would be too ambiguous (since it is also worn by Trump supporters), I LOVE this Flag of All Americans version. I hope that starts getting manufactured as an actual flag to fly on my house. 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

  1. November 16, 2016

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