Waving Flag

Album: Single Release Only (2015)

Songfacts®:

  • The second from a week-long series of songs by Will Butler based on news headlines from the UK newspaper The Guardian, this is based on stories about anti-apartheid figure Moses Kotane's remains being repatriated and Ukrainian separatists celebrating a Soviet holiday. "My initial reaction to reading about the repatriation of Moses Kotane's body to South Africa from Russia was influenced by my distrust of communism," he admitted. "Was he really a great man? The answer: yes. And then I thought, how horrifying that my initial reaction to reading about a hero of the anti-apartheid movement was vague suspicion. For all their failings, the Communists were the only political entity in South Africa for years that talked about racial equality. They were the only integrated party for years and years. They worked for democracy and to help the poor. So, yes, I am an a--hole."

    "And then I was reading about the Ukraine separatists, our latest pro-Soviet nationalists, and I thought, man, what jerks," Butler continued. "I don't doubt that there are members of the separatists that genuinely feel like a beset upon minority. But the shape of the conflict is a historically powerful nation invading a historically weak one. Anyways."

    "This is a song about backward-looking violent nationalism contrasting with future-looking lift-up-the-weak nationalism," he concluded. "And then there's me, a million miles away in America, watching from a great and blurring distance."

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