Friday, July 5, 2013

Progress on the Misbegotten Mural

I’m mad that the new mural in my neighborhood is going to be a US Flag. Not a real mural. A flag in a context. Just a clip art flag, slightly rippled as if blowing in a gentle breeze.

They’re putting it up with a computer program that paints square of about a meter (excuse me yard – these are Americans) on a side.  The computer program is messing up. The stars don’t have points – instead they are blurry smudges.  The stripes smudge into each other, and the paint drips red at the bottom right corner.

I remember the motto “these colors don’t run.”  On this mural, these colors DO run.

So, yes, in a sad way, this mural does tell a story.  About bureaucracy gone wrong, about a few WWII veterans in a hurry to have a flag on the wall because the sister of a dead veteran suggested it (probably as a free way to get the wall painted) – I think they wanted it by July 4, but on July 4, the park was unusable – completely roped off and the painting machine blocked the sidewalk. And about the sad state of patriotism in America today.  The NSA is reading all my email. The USPS is photographing all my mail. The phone company is recording all my calls. All without a warrant. Clear violation of the 4th amendment to the Constitution. All violations of my freedom.

One woman told me that she thinks the flag means Safety.  Nobody waves a flag and says “Let’s go to war!  For Safety!”  I thought that the flag means Freedom.  But if we had freedom, we’d have had a neighborhood meeting about what sort of mural we who live in this neighborhood want.  Safety must mean “we get our way and you don’t.”

I have no idea how long this mess will take to clean up – but nobody has learned anything. When they’re done it will still be a flag, standing alone by some old men who will soon be dead without having told their stories about why they went to war.

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