I appreciate the symbolism of the United States flag and national anthem, and I do my best to respect them because I love the ideas and values they represent, but we’re often guilty of mistaking the symbol for what it represents. The United States is full of people flying and wearing the American flag, treating it with reverence and demanding that others do the same, while their hearts are full of hatred, selfishness, and a refusal to recognize anyone outside their tribe as American.
Respect for flags, anthems, and other symbols neither ensures nor prevents respect for people. We can certainly respect both, but we should teach our children that respect and support for human life is the goal of these symbols. I’ve noticed that regressives tend to obsess on symbols to the exclusion of actual human beings, and that this is likely a mechanism that allows regressives to revere an object (the symbol) while avoiding the much harder task of engaging with and supporting subjects (human and non-human life). This focus supports the objectification of people considered outside the tribe and thereby enables tribalism itself.