Clash of Symbols
American flag lapel pins. Indeed, I've started to keep a running tally: who wears them, who does not. They are not, of course, anywhere NEAR as ubiquitous as they were in the days after 9/11, and this, I think, is a very good thing.
Frankly, I regard the displaying of the American flag in such a manner as a cheap, easy and cynical maneuver, pandering to the stupidest and dullest and most reflexively unthinking souls among us, and I'm glad that Senator Obama hasn't caved in to it. I'm watching Meet the Press just now, and I see that Senator Joe Biden (D, DE) wears one and Senator Lindsey Graham (R, SC) does not. Interesting. I can't remember if Hillary wore one? Perhaps it was a fancy one, more on the order of a jewel than a little pin, but I don't recall. Even Pat Buchanan and John McCain have given it up, though Mayor Bloomberg, I believe, still wears one.
But I don't really care for the public display of any sort of allegiance, be it political or religious. I've never worn any kind of Pagan symbol on a regular public basis, and although I was given a small gold cross at a young age, I only wore it when my parents made me.
I carry a few things with me, in my wallet, protective things: a silver Viking traveller's medal, engraved with a picture of a dragon ship under sail and oar on the front and a runic prayer that Frigg spoke to Odin before he left on journeys on the back; some small pictures of deities (Pele, Yemaya, Maeve, the Seven African Powers); a four-leaf clover found on the campus of my alma mater when I went back for a visit a few years ago; a tiny terracotta tablet of Ganesh; an ancient coin of Dionysus; silver relic medals of St. Michael the Archangel and St. Joan of Arc (the only saints I can stand); a silver Mizpah coin (the other half is with Jim); couple of prayer cards from my father's and grandmother's funerals.
But I wouldn't impose the sight of these things on the public. (Though I do, when I fly, wear the Viking pendant against my skin. I feel that anything is justified whenever there looms the possibility of horrible flaming sudden death. Even Oliver Stone crosses himself before a flight.) I just don't think my beliefs are anyone else's business, and I don't like to see other people's hanging out there being imposed on everyone else.
I don't even care for message T-shirts, actually. And people who wear those idiot shirts ("I'm with Stupid --->", and worse) should be publicly stripped and flogged.
The only thing I will ungrudgingly allow to be worn on suit lapels is the rosette of the Legion d'Honneur. But I don't see any of these turkeys getting THAT anytime soon.