Tuesday 29 March 2016

great seal

Happening to revisit an article that celebrated the ban of the Confederate States flag as a symbol of hate by lampooning all of America’s state banners as derivative and perhaps designed by those not well-versed in the rules of vexillology, I had to pause over the emblem of South Carolina: I had seen the palm—palmetto tree, with crescent moon on the bumpers of a few co-workers and in the parking-lot and had always assumed that it was a symbol of solidarity of those who had been deployed to a certain forward-operating base in the Middle East, a unit badge and not any home-town patriotism. I would sing to myself, “Midnight at the Oasis—put your camel to bed.”
It turns out that this flag—which is an outlier being within the rules of simplicity and proportion where most flag-makers, either with only scant history to draw on or uninterested in aboriginal traditions, belted out what they could as eager members of the coalescing federation. Surely I’d seen this banner, along with all the others, on display in the parade-grounds but it struck me as something wholly new.
South Carolina’s flag directly recalls the battle-garb of the rebel militia with the crescent charge and the palmetto trunks that defend the fortifications against British assaults during America’s revolutionary war, instead of invoking the colours of the constituents of Yugoslavia or other desperate campaigners of inclusion and splitting the difference. Michigan’s motto is basically “if you lived here you’d be home by now,” in Latin.  Surely having a distinctive symbol is a requirement for membership, but it does seem as if some ran out of ideas and were under pressure of a deadline to throw together something.  One has to wonder what barriers to ascension that later territories had to face.