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It's hard to quantify but I think it's fair to say that people who come to the United States from other countries often think we're a little bit weird about our flag.
It seems to them we display it more and argue about it more. It would make more sense if -- as was the case with Northern Ireland -- there were multiple flags competing for legitimacy.
These days, maybe there are. Connecticut just went through a fight over the Gadsden, the exciting yellow rattlesnake flag, once a symbol of the Revolution, then a symbol of the Marines and now a symbol of the somewhat fuzzy Tea Party movement.
At pretty much the same moment, Virginia found itself once again convulsed by a debate over the meaning of Confederate symbols when its governor recognized April as Confederate History Month.
It's just a piece of cloth. And most American flags are, of course, made in China. So why do flags make us coil and strike?