Every time I saw several US flags around some place, I had a feeling that something is wrong. Last time it was a cemetery with about 20 or more flags. This time I decided to analyze why I think it's wrong. One US flag near McDonalds is fine, one flag on the next house is fine also, but dozens of them around car dealer place -- the reason why it is wrong is semiotic, I believe. The US flag is a symbol of the country, there is only one US => there should be only one flag. When there are more, they lose this symbolic function and become simple decoration. Why not to use decorations, then?
Yes, I agree. The display and exploitation of the flag and patriotism for commercial purposes or otherwise for personal or corporate gain is pretty pathetic. Usually it's obvious enough that it can be seen for what it is though. This should be separated from businesses that display a single flag in a proper manner, and not for any ulterior purpose.
When there are more, they lose this symbolic function and become simple decoration. You're absolutely right IMHO. Patriotism, at least for me, is what I feel inside, not some ostentatious window dressing. I think too many are just going along with the crowd by displaying the flag. That isn't to say that it is wrong to do so, but one should consider the reasons for doing so.
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction. - Ernst F. Schumacher
There seems to be a different attitude towards flags in the UK. While many people are very patriotic, flying the Union Jack outside a business or home is a little eccentric. It looks odd to me to see the flag outside of anywhere other than a national monument, historical building or military base. Actually the Union Jack has some negative associations in the UK because of its use by political organisations with overly nationalist agendas and the fact that many Britons have a partly negative and cynical attitude towards Britain. Flying the flag could mark you as a bit old fashioned or worse, a mindless bigot or football hooligan. In other words, dumb. Over the past year or so though, it seems to have been reclaimed somewhat, probably due to the World Cup, the death of the Queen Mother and the Queen's jubilee celebrations. To be frank it took me by surprise, cynical lefty that I am. I found myself actually being caught up in the general feeling of "its great to be British!", although I still don't know all the words to the national anthem! I don't know if other Brits would agree with me but that's how I see it.
Although I tend to agree with Oscar Wilde that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, I am happy to display the Union Flag to ensure it does not get entirely apropriated by the very far right.