There is a line of thought in American politics that the flag must be and is large enough to hide the sins of the past because the US experiment is too important to fail.
Under this overstretched flag, the baggage of slavery, costly foreign wars, and clandestine interference in other governments are hidden because America’s mission to lead the free world is worth any ‘sacrifice.’
It is a facile point but one where legitimate arguments can be made. After all, American arms, money, and lives helped free the world from the grips of fascism and to a lesser extent, Stalinism.
But one wonders, how big is the Thai flag and does it cover the variety of sins that we commit now as a nation – never mind the past.
And what exactly is our national mission that these sins must be committed in the first place?
Take for example the patriotic members of the former People’s Democratic Reform Committee. These men and women took to the street with the genuine belief that what they were doing was right.
Led by Democrat Party stalwart Suthep Thaugsuban, they spent months marching up and down Bangkok to demand the ouster of the hated Shinawatra clan who they say was corrupt and abusing political power.
Whether you have any sympathy towards them or not, these were people that genuinely believed in the cause that they were fighting for. They genuinely believed that in 2014, a military coup would cleanse the country and allow good people to run the country once again.
Seven long years later and some members of the PDRC actually gained political posts including Khun Natthapol Teepsuwan who became the Minister of Education. Finally, a member of the PDRC could bring about meaningful changes to the fabric of society and educate young minds on what it means to be a good person. Of course, infighting within the cabinet and a court decision has stripped Khun Natthapol of his post, leaving him fighting for his freedom.
But one wonders, if he stayed on as the education minister, what kind of message would he have for the youth of Thailand?
Is it the same patriotic notion that the US have? That Thailand’s mission and the mission of all good people is vitally important – so important that the flag must stretch to cover up the sorry sight of a cabinet filled with drug dealers and treasonous generals?
What moral high ground can you occupy when you have to defend court decisions like the one we saw this Wednesday – which basically admitted that a cabinet minister was indeed convicted of dealing drugs. But since the case happened abroad in Australia, it had no impact on his position in Thailand because we can just turn a blind eye.
What message are you sending to the children then?
Is your mission to defend the status quo so vitally important, are the few people with power in Thailand so divine, is the hatred of Thaksin and Yingluck so grand that we lie to ourselves and our children that this is all worth it.
Is it worth it?
There’s a wonderful Mitchell and Webb sketch out there on the internet where two Nazi officers start looking around and ask themselves are they the baddies?
Look around my friends who supported or still support this government. Look around. You have with you a drug dealer, a general with luxury watches, a government incapable of saving its own people from the pandemic, a country on fire.
Are you the baddies?