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imperialism & war

Are tri-met flag decals on buses symbolic of prowar sympathies?

Are flag decals on tri-met buses symbolic of support for the war by tri-met?
If they do symbolize pro-war attitudes, should peace signs be placed next to them to show both sides of the issue?
Should a company if it gets federal funding, which comes from tax payers, display a one-sided political comment to the city?
As I stood in the fresh mourning air waiting for Max, I noticed all the buses going down the mall had a flag decal on them. I spoke to two fare inspectors and a
driver and they all assured me that the decals have been on all the buses since shortly after 9/11. I called tri-met to lodge a complaint/suggestion.
I explained that I felt under the circumstances, since a war is going on, and a flag displayed more commonly represents support for the war, that I felt it was a one-sided political remark on tri-met's part to have a flag decal on all the buses. I pointed out that the buses are public transportation and not armed military vehicles. I , as a tax paying citizen do not appreciate city vehicles being used as a political statement supporting an unjust war. And if they are carrying that sentiment, than equal time needs to be given to the anti-war side.
I was told that they were placed on the buses because of 9/11, even though,I don't remember seeing a flag on every single bus until this mourning. My reasoning is that 9/11 is over, and now the flag hanging represents pro-war sentiments. So I feel that if they want to display the flag, that they should also put a peace sign decal next to the flag decal to make an equal statement.After all, if they are receiving federal funding they need to represent all tax payers,not just pro-war folks.
I would like to hear peoples opinions on this? What does the flag decal on tri-met buses symbolize in your mind.The people I spoke to this mourning, seemed shocked that I would dare suggest such an idea. Are you shocked?
American Flag = Pro war 16.Apr.2003 11:33


The American flag at this point in time most certainly symbolizes pro war attitudes. Public buses are PUBLIC transportation-not private.
Public buses have no right to display any symbol that shows only one side of such an important issue.
I am disgusted and moreover appaled that this is allowed. I will not be riding the bus as long as they continue displaying the flag. I am not anti-america but I am anti-war. I do not enjoy having other peoples' beliefs pushed on me where ever I choose to go.

Yes. 16.Apr.2003 11:34


Go ahead and say this is petty, but when you ride the bus everyday it can start to wear on your nerves-
I agree that flags on the bus are inappropriate. I've noticed them for awhile now, though i can't say that i recall when they were put up. It really bothers me for allot of reasons, one being what you said about the flag now representing the pro-war point of view. Also, it was with my money, tax dollars and bus fare, that they bought those flags. I've gotten into the habbit of tagging Unite*Resist on all the buses that have the flag up, to make sure there is equal representation of the different view points. Of course, i am certainly not advocation this illegal behavior. But It is a lot better, in my opinion, than all the 4:20 crap you usually see tagged on the bus.

fyi 16.Apr.2003 11:39


Yes, they have been on the buses since just after 9/11.

called Tri-Met too--- 16.Apr.2003 11:39

here's where they got funding

specifically asked *where* the funding for those flags had come from, and it was from a portion of Federal DOT subsidies in Tri-Met's budget that had paid for all those flags--

further explanation or specific names could not be given.

Apparently, it was a directive issued from the U.S. Department of Transportation--somehow accompanied by 'emergency' funding--which allowed all those flags to be rather rapidly applied to Portland and other municipal public transit buses within weeks of 9/11.

Flaggelate 16.Apr.2003 11:46

Metal Pancreas

First off, I think the American flag, as well as the flag of any and all nations, are obsolete reminders of hatred, jingoism and prejudice. It is time for earthlings to realize that all living things have a flag that is the shape of the universe. There may also be a time when we need to reconsider this sentiment. But for now, I think that this will suffice.

Secondly, my roommate is a tri-met driver, and he is VERY anti-war, anti-american evil, and he is upset about these flags which are a cheap and efficient way of brainwashing people to hate those who aren't americans. So, he made hie own sign and puts it up on the buses he drives. It says, very simply, "No War". Now, he is not supposed to do this of course, but he realizes that tri-met is not supposed to put the flag up either, so he feels it is a balance.

All I can say is that the flag-salesmen must be mighty hapy nowadays...

p.s. 16.Apr.2003 11:51

here's where they got funding

I'd inquired about this in early October 2001

It's Not Just Flags 16.Apr.2003 12:06

Sadder But Wiser

It's not just flags and it's not just TriMet. What really frosts me are all the "Support the Troops" signs on business windows. I resent pseudo-patriotism as a marketing tool. What I would like to do is print up little cards that can be left at all the businesses that have those offensive signs in the window. Something to the effect of, "Your sign says 'Support the Troops' but the underlying message is 'Support the War.' As long as you have that sign in your window, I will take my business elsewhere. Thanks for your understanding."
What do you think?

I support our troops and love my country! 16.Apr.2003 13:15


If you people don't like it, why don't you go live somewhere else instead of disrespecting the people here!

problem is... 16.Apr.2003 13:37


...the symbol has been misused by just about everyone to the point that it has no real meaning anymore. The Gulf Wars certainly do not represent what was supposed to be American values. Bush and all the neo-cons have misappropriated and co-opted the flag as an axcuse to do anyhting they please. So NO, it's not our flag anymore.

To Rita, the Patriotic (ha. Ha.Ha) commentor 16.Apr.2003 15:07

patriotic, pacifist and protestor

Well Rita, you sound like a typical RAH, RAH, flag waving patriotic american, who shouts freedom continually but really believes in tyranical dictatorships. If Saddam is what people like you claim, you would have gotten along with him really well. First of all, you don't believe in the right of free speech or you would never tell someone to leave the country , just because thier view differs from your own.
Just what the hell are young people dying for in Iraq? People like you claim its freedom, but actually its to have the power to oppress others, which is the real reason the U.S of Arrogant Authoritative Asses is there to begin with.Those poor young people died over there, so people like you can try to oppress people who don't agree with you. You need to search your soul for the real person you are, a dictatorial oppressor of freedom who holds the mask of a democratic thinker.
And to stick to the question , which obviously you dont care to comment on intelligently.....the flag is symbolic of pro-war. But you already know that, that is why people like you are waving it around and shouting "nuke Iraq". Everyone I have heard comment on murdering Iraquis is wearing , waving or wording the flag. So be proud to be a war mongering, murderous, flag waving american. And no, I wont leave America, people like you will just have to put up with me,(until we have a complete dictatorship, which would make you happy) keep waving those stars and stripes, baby!

If Tri-Met busses 16.Apr.2003 17:59


are bad places to display the flag, where is an acceptable place? Is it also bad to have it flying in front of public buildings? They're supported with tax moneys too.

Thanks for well thought out comments! 16.Apr.2003 19:16

concerned citizen

Thank You to all of you who read my question, and special thanks to all who commented on it.Lets keep the dialouge going when it comes to matters like this. I especially appreciated the business card idea, think I'll try it, because it also bothers me that people are trying to commercialze off of an emotional issue.
I have no problem with flags on poles or in front of public buildings. And if small private businesses wish to exspress thier fondness for war, more power to them. Thats what the business cards are for. I do have a problem with a large organization representing all thier employees and patrons under the quise of one view , especially the flag waving war support perspective.
I can only feel kind of pathetically sorry for commentors like Rita, because they really feel in thier hearts that they are democratic people and they believe the propaganda that is spoon fed to them.And I am not grouping all flag waving war supporters together. God knows they are diverse as all of us on the other side.
We need to speak our minds when it comes to these issues and if we feel a company like tri-met is being one sided it is our responsibility to let them know.More power to all of you, and keep up the fight, because little does Rita know, but when we all are behind the barbed wire, she will be to, after they are through using people like her to pass laws to take away our civil liberties.

what are flags good for? 16.Apr.2003 19:21

scratching head

"me" raises a good point ... if people are opposed to flags on busses, then why aren't we opposed to flags at public buildings, for all the same reasons (waste of taxpayer money, pro-war, jingoism, etc.)?

I for one am fed up with our flag. It has gone from being an icon of unity to one of assertive in-your-face nationalism, arrogant patriotism, blind jingoism, and now has become the mark of empire.

If I go to the north pole, I learn the flag has been there since 1909. (For a couple years the north pole has actually completely melted, thanks to global warming, so a flag's not actually flying there right at the moment.) If I go to the south pole, I see it flying there along with 11 other flags. Hell, if I go to the fucking moon I see it there along with all the other litter (dune buggy, etc.) Mr. Armstrong & crew left.

I'm not saying all flags or symbols are always, under every conceivable circumstance, inherently bad. Think of the role the white flag of surrender plays internationally, along with the red cross symbol. There is something positive to be said for universal recognition.

On the other hand, consider the harm of universal recognition, or more precisely, the harm of actively marketing a propaganda symbol to further your agenda or product. Isn't this exactly the goal of advertising execs? I'd bet any amount of money that more people worldwide would recognize Mickey Mouse, Coca-Cola and McDonald's than the flag of Iraq (horizontally divided red-white-black flag with three stars and the takbir in green placed horizontally across the white center strip), even though it has dominated the news recently. Universal recognition seems to require an active component that constantly pushes a symbol at us (greeted with flag every time you step on a bus), rather than mere universal knowledge of the entity (we all know of Iraq, but not its flag).

I think all these symbols do is cause division among us, lumping us into 'self' and 'other', 'cool' or 'passe', coke or pepsi, christian or heathen, muslim or infidel, jew or gentile. Whether you rally around the flag of your country, the flag of your religion (cross, star of david, crescent moon, etc.), or the diverse flags of consumption (SUV in suburban driveway, 5000+ square foot house, etc.), the end result is always the same: millions of innocent people end up dead. It's been going on for centuries!

Can you imagine a business without a logo? No. Why? What is a logo for, and why would a business *need* one? It's all about brand recognition ... you'll remember the symbol you saw in the yellow pages or on tv and this initial introduction is used to acquaint you with a particular product, service or business in a positive manner. Similar with a flag ... our flag good, their flag bad, and all because our flag got to you first in time when you were unsuspecting and impressionable. Since that intial contact, we've pumped you full of patriotic hot air about how your country, whatever it is, is the greatest thing since sliced bread, or at least flaky phyllo.

I vote for getting rid of the flag in public life, and instead of rallying around a flag or pledging allegiance to a dusty piece of cloth, I'd rather rally together with my neighbors and try to learn all I can about them, whether they live across the hall or across the world. It's the only way we're going to keep from killing each other off.

Of course, this will never happen, but I tell you this because it's important to try to identify exactly how society is trying to brainwash us, and then try as best we can to counter that with attempting to get at the truth: that our flag has historically been used as the rallying point to generate popular support that enables our government to be the greatest mass murderer in history.

CC Should Mind His/Her/Its Own Business 16.Apr.2003 19:33


Concerned Citizen is bored, and obviously looking for something to do and should take up knitting or something.

Another view 16.Apr.2003 22:01


Here's another view: Those who criticize or question the actions of the government are sometimes labeled by others as unpatriotic.

This is, of course, a gross generalization and a false label. Many who criticize or question the government are actually quite patriotic, believing in the ideals of America that were taught to them, and with their criticism they are only trying to ensure that the US will be as good as it should or can be.

The flag belongs to everyone and should not be representative of war. It doesn't have to mean that to you. To you it might represent the compassion and charity that many Americans exhibit through groups like Mercy Corps. Is there anyone who does more work for others than Americans? Unfortunately we are often undoing actions by our government or corporations based here, but not always.

I dunno. Maybe it is wise not to get too caught up in symbolism and to just to try to do the right thing as much as possible.

This is kind of ridiculous 16.Apr.2003 23:04


The American flag is not a "pro-war symbol". It visually identifies the nationality of something.

While I do find it odd that Americans seem to need constant visual reminders in case they forget what country they're in and/or to demonstrate their nationality to people who are also of that nationality, I don't think there's a lot of reason to get upset because Tri-Met is worried people won't know that the buses driving around Portland, OR are from America.

It also doesn't really harm anyone if the proprietors of a business feel the need to display a message like "We support the troops" on their business' premises. Again, I think it can be kind of ridiculous and tacky to express that kind of message in a venue usually reserved for commercial advertising, (after 9/11 a restaurant downtown was sporting a marquee that read "$1.99 Fried Chicken God Bless America") but it doesn't really hurt anyone.

more 17.Apr.2003 09:48


I agree with Metal Pancreas. You said it. Flags only separate the world. Like team jerseys allow us to separate "us" from "them."

At a recent march a man in a car (which was stopped by the march) started screaming out his window, "USA, USA, USA!!!" That always makes me laugh when I hear it. I almost yelled back, "Yes, this is the USA!" I mean, what is the point really of yelling the name of your country? It's such strange behaviour.