From April 2009 LRC blog:
Today my wife and I were in the Houston Galleria with our 5 year old son. There was a huge American Flag hanging over one part–it must have been 50 yards long. My boy asked me why it was there. I thought about it. I remembered when I was in living in London in 1992, as a student, and watched the movied Kindergarten Cop in a dorm room with a group of about a dozen students from all over–England, Greece, Spain, Ireland. The entire room, except for me and the one other American, burst into laughter when the kindergartners were shown in class saying the Pledge of Allegiance. We were confused and asked for the movie to be paused, and said, “hold on–what’s so funny?” One of them said, laughingly, dismissively, “You Americans–you are so patriotic!”
Later the same year in London, I went to the Bette Midler movie For the Boys, which opens with some number on a stage in front of a ginormous American flag. Again, titters from the non-Americans in the audience.
I remembered one time when I was at Callaway Gardens, Georgia, on the 4th of July, with hundreds of people around the gorgeous man-made lake, watching fireworks, and as Lee Greenwood’s cloying “Proud to be An American” was played, the entire crowd stood up in unison, like toy soldiers, hands over hearts, at the line, “and I’d proudly STAND! UP!”, and it gave me chills.
So I told my son, the flag is there because Americans have been taught by the government–the one that steals from me the money I would otherwise save for your college fund–to worship the state.
How much better under monarchy when there was a clear distinction between ruler and ruled; when secular worship of the state had not replaced real religion. Now that the state has taken the place of religion, and the distinction between the rulers and the ruled has been blurred, the state can do almost anything. Can anyone imagine a king extracting 60% taxes without getting his head handed to him?