Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Flag time

Long-time readers of my blog know that I am a flag junkie -- I love the flag, I love photographing the flag, I love making quilts using the flag both as visual motif and as metaphor.  If you love the flag in all of its roles, you can check out my past posts here.

Two years ago I was feeling frissons of dismay about what was happening in the country as the presidential election approached.  I made three flag quilts to express different nuances of that dismay.  And I will confess that I was pissed off that none of them was juried into Quilt National, because I thought they were far stronger works than the quilts I have had accepted into that show in the past, and because I thought that artists who spoke out against the sorry state of American democracy should be given as wide latitude as possible to have their work shown.

Fading -- 59 x 99"

Today I'm feeling dismay again -- or perhaps I should say yet.  It was brought very close to home last week when a guy with a gun attempted to enter a black church, and when nobody answered his knock on the door, went down the street to a grocery store and murdered two black shoppers.  This is a grocery store, a few miles down the road from my house, where I have shopped many times.  A couple of days later, another guy with a gun shot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh, in a neighborhood where I have walked and shopped and eaten and driven through.

What dismays me today?  Let me count the ways --

The fact that we have almost as many guns in this country as people (except a huge proportion of those guns are owned by a relatively small proportion of people).  The fact that so few politicians have the guts to stand up to the NRA, although the great majority of people in the U.S. want stronger gun regulation.  The fact that our president throws gasoline on the flames of white male resentment every time he opens his mouth, ranting against immigrants, Muslims, people of color, women, anybody with the slightest deviation from standard sexual identity.  The fact that he trashes and insults our allies, the democracies of the world, while expressing his love for dictators and bullies such as Kim, Erdogan, Duterte, Putin.  The fact that the Republican party goes along with every outrageous word out of the president's mouth.  The fact that so many avowed Christians have decided that they love a thrice-married, perpetually lying, self-confessed sexual assaulter because they think the ends justify the means and this is the way to ban abortion.

Flagging -- 98 x 54"

My parents, along with their entire families from the day they immigrated, were Republicans.  They were decent people, as were most of the people in that party.  The Republican party used to pride itself on its commitment to principles.  When Nixon hit the fan, it was because his fellow Republicans, dismayed at the revelation that he had lied and obstructed justice, announced they could not support him.

I do not see that commitment to principles any more in the Republican party.  Instead I see previously decent people who have decided to sit down with the devil, perhaps uneasily but boy, are their butts firmly attached to their chairs!  They have sold their souls to the NRA, to the big money PACs, to the pharmaceutical and gambling and oil lobbyists.  They have pinned their election strategies on keeping as many potential Democratic voters as possible from registering and voting.

More Equal then Others -- 82 x 97"

My only hope is that we're having an election next week.  And although our constitutional system is deliberately rigged to favor the voters in small states and dilute the votes of those in large states -- in other words, most of the people in the country -- I still have hope that decency will prevail.  If we miss this chance, we may not have another.


  1. Your passionate plea for your country and decency of humanity moves me. I'm impressed that you channel your anguish into quilts of the flag. I'm Canadian and we all worry about our American neighbours...all the time. Actually, it may be more accurate to say we're watching in terror. This is time for action and courage.

  2. My grandson is 23 and could totally live off the grid. Our political discussions most always lead to him asking me how I can believe my vote counts when we have elections that the person who did not win the popular vote became the president. I admit I have no great answer on how and if we will ever change the system. I remember a time when I could vote for the man and not the party, but that other party is no longer moral. I though racism was changing...but it seems that it was mostly latent and waiting for a trump to remove the covers. You are better than I am. I can't fly my flag under this administration.
    xx, Carol

    1. Carol -- and your grandson --

      there is no great answer on how to change the system, but there is one sure way NOT to change the system, and that is to stay home on election day. Yes, the system is rigged and the good guys have to be twice as good to win, but also the good guys have to SHOW UP!!!

  3. It is heartbreaking for me too, but I don't have any connections like you do to these places. I don't know why it still shocks me that the Republicans are going along with such outrageous things, and are openly eschewing ethics. I do hope that these elections show that this is not the American way.

  4. Thank you Kathy. I love your work and your words. We must continue to speak truth to power and thank you for doing that. I will be in Houston on Election Day so I voted yesterday. The line was long.

  5. So well said, Kathy! Every time our Idiot in Chief opens his mouth I feel like I have been kicked in the stomach. I can't understand how anyone can listen to his spewed venom and still support him.I certainly do hope that more people will get out and vote. I know that I have been spreading the word.

  6. if decency does not prevail, it may next time.... the thing is it will be that much harder... we can decry this bully of a leader but looking around I don't see other politicians ready to serve... we need some good people who want to serve.....

  7. As next Tues. draws near, I am increasingly fearful that the GOP will retain their majorities; that decency, truth and civility will continue to be eroded. I used to believe that most politicians were basically good people with whom I disagreed. Now I know that many are NOT good people and do not deserve respect. May we have something to celebrate next week, or we will have to double down our efforts for change.

  8. I have always liked your blog....but like it even more after reading it today. I like it when people like you can articulate what I'm feeling, when I cannot. Thank you for your words...I too am very worried for our country.

  9. Protect the people first...especially those in need. Rhetoric hurts. We have entrusted our leaders to demonstrate truth, bravery, generosity, determination, recognition and celebration of what is right and good. These are all missing in the administration that is in power in the United States of American today. I pray for change and, as you have so eloquently expressed, that we must be committed enough to step up and make this world and our nation strong and good and kind. Thank you Kathy.

  10. Thank you - thank you for your post. I've been feeling like the current administration has co-opted the flag and I have taken mine down. I can't even think what will happen if the coming mid-term election doesn't bring a change. again, thank you for expressing my feelings so eloquently.

  11. Thank you for your reminder of what is wrong with our political system, and that the only recourse for the real people (not wealthy corporations who now have the same rights as people) is to vote, to continue to contact our leaders, to protest, and to dissent. Your flags should be flown proudly as symbols of dissent. Even though they express your disappointment in our institutions, they also portray your respect for America as it could be, as it has been on occasion.

  12. Well SAID!!! Thank you. . “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”― Edmund Burke If we get out there and vote we can change the world. Maybe not all at once but step by step.

  13. A great post at this point in time. And so many thoughtful and truthful comments. It's good to have company! Thank you.