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Episode 2: Wrapped in the Flag

In this episode of The Ambidextrous Society, we discuss the symbol that divides Americans as much as it unites us. Listen now.

Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

It’s impossible to contend with or even clearly grasp the idea of “being an American.” It’s the water we’re swimming in. Left or right, everyone who was born and raised in the United States is deeply, impermeably defined by the fact of his or her Americanness — a quality that is commonly symbolized by the American flag. In the face of recent protests against empty patriotism, such as the protest begun by football player Colin Kaepernick, what are we to make of this symbol in an increasingly confused and troubled nation?

The flag has become a symbol that divides Americans as much as it unites us. In this second episode of the Ambidextrous Society, our panelists are shocked to learn some things we didn’t know about one another with respect to patriotism, nationalism, and the different flavors of American idealism and romanticism each of us is carrying around almost unconsciously. Without realizing it, we’re each of us in some way liable to be “wrapped in the flag.”

“America is a contested idea. Our flag stands for some weird mix of history and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the idea of America: It doesn’t have any fixed meaning.”—Conor Friedersdorf

is a journalist and editor of, an alt-global news and culture publication experimenting with blockchain-based publishing innovations.

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