Friday, January 02, 2015

Marquam Building Flag Mural

In the previous post, I talked a bit about the Kathleen Gorman Rose mural, on the west side of the Marquam Plaza office building next to I-405, south of downtown Portland. The same building also has a mural on its east side, this one of a US flag and the words "United We Stand" (quotation marks included). I initially figured this was some sort of 9/11 thing, but later realized that Weston rose murals often include flags, and it's just that this time the flag is on the far side of the building.

So as far as I know it's not supposed to mean anything in particular beyond a general "Go USA!" sentiment. Although I admit the "United We Stand" phrase has always puzzled me. On the surface it seems really vague, almost devoid of meaning: Unity and determination, sure, but not with any particular goal or idea in mind. And yet it's enormously popular. It seemed like the default go-to patriotic phrase after 9/11, and back in 1992 it was the original name of Ross Perot's organization before it evolved into the "Reform Party".

It also shows up in more divisive contexts. I distinctly recall counterdemonstrators hollering the phrase at people protesting the start of the Iraq war, and it shows up (often misspelled) on Tea Party signs fairly often. So obviously it means something else entirely to certain demographics, and I've never quite cracked the code. It feels like a demand that people shut up and stop rocking the boat, or be excluded from the national "we". I doubt they realize how weird it sounds outside their little echo chamber.

No comments :