Friday, April 19, 2013

Mistaking the Map for the Territory

The Real Steve Gray, who is way more popular than me, has taken offence at today's NZ Herald cartoon, the one where Emmerson's got Wall, Hague and co. raising the big gay flag like the famous Iwo Jima war porn.

Although the Iwo Jima pole-dance wasn't staged, as I noted in the comments section, it certainly wasn't the first flag raised as the myth take goes. Colonel Johnson wasn't happy with the size of his flag at the Iwo Jima landing, and sent men up a mountain with a much bigger flag. Not all of them lived.

In NZ-speak, teh gays took Tongariro in 1986, by far and away the old, largest and most necessary territory. In 2002, they planted a flag on Ngauruhoe, the youngest cone. Now, they have reached no greater height. It's the big Ruapehu.

But if you still don't dig it, let's kill the metaphors and go with a story.

The proudest moment of my time collecting signatures for the Change the Flag referendum was the day I convinced a member of the old Maori Battalion to sign for a new flag.

First, I told him that both my papas had fought in the World Wars. As I understood these men, they weren't fighting for Blighty or Empire. They were fighting for their families, their land, their way of life.

The flag they fought under was a symbol of the land and people, not the other way around. People are more important than flags, and their symbols should have meaning for them. Symbolism without meaning is mere pomp, and we are not bloody Brits here, mate.