Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Factoid of the Day - Flag Waving, Raving Patriots of the Northeast!

According to Pew Social Research, significantly more Northeasterners and Midwesterners fly the flag than do residents of the South or the West.

Roughly seven-in-ten residents of the Northeast (69%) say they fly the flag, compared with 67% in the Midwest, 58% in the South, and 57% in the West.

I venture to say the percentage would be even higher in the Northeast, especially the big cities of Boston, NY, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the densely populated smaller cities in between given the nature of our living arrangements. (One can't really fly the flag from an apartment building window - it just isn't done. And, in big cities, car ownership is much lower, so decals, antenna flags, and the like don't come into play as much.)

Flying the flag isn't the most accurate indicator of patriotism, of course. But it is noteworthy that public discourse, and private dinner table conversations literally never turn to talk of secession or state nullification of Federal Laws in the more heavily flag-waving areas of our country.

It's hard to pinpoint why this may be. Perhaps in the Northeast, in particular, but the older parts of the Midwest as well, we've been flying the flag for a longer, and more completely uninterrupted period, than, say, the South. Perhaps we are more at ease with our patriotism, more directly connected to the struggles of the War For Independence and the War of 1812? Perhaps our collective unconscious and our political DNA recall foreign power domination.

It might even be that flag flying is part and parcel of the actual decor of a certain kind of America - one that embraces continuity of loyalty and trust in the real founding principles. I am thinking of the landscapes of suburban and rural New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland where stone walls containing more masonry than the Great Wall of China, American eagles guarding the lintels of front doors, covered bridges - and the flag itself - make up a visual unity of feeling that is ineluctable. Patriotism isn't embroidered on the breast pocket for any temporal political purpose.

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