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#58 the angry flag vendor

The peaceful vigil at Union Square has turned into a carnival of sorts.

Day and night, people still gather here to pray. But at the fringes, others hand out leaflets or wave political placards.

STOP THE KILLING, say some of the signs. They don’t say how.

A black woman in her late thirties and her young son trudge along, dragging a wagon behind them. The wagon is filled with American flags and posters for sale. The posters depict the Statue of Liberty and the burning Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. They are captioned, LIBERTY MOURNS.

Selling a flag, the woman says, “This is our government’s own policies coming home to roost.”

Selling a LIBERTY MOURNS poster, the woman says, “You back an animal into a corner, he’s going to attack you. We’ve backed these people into a corner for 20 years.”

It’s a strange sales patter for a vendor of patriotic goods.

The woman says: “Bush’s children aren’t going to fight this war. Your children and your children and your grandchildren are.”

The woman says: “We’ve got no business over there. We’ve got problems right here at home. If the Jews and the Moslems have a problem over there, they can work it out for themselves.”

A crowd has begun to gather around the angry flag vendor.

A man in the crowd says, “We went there to help.”

The woman cuts him off: “Every time we ‘go there to help’ it’s because we want something. We ‘went there to help’ South Africa because they’ve got diamonds. We ‘went there to help’ Saudi Arabia because they’ve got oil. Read your history books.”

In spite of the woman’s comments, her flags continue to sell briskly.

23 September 2001

previously: <the house of the dead>

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