Driving along a major interstate highway I could not help but see the super size American flag waving on a extra high pole needed to accommodate its height and width. I never saw such flags while in the military or on government buildings. As I drove past where the flag was located I saw it was a lot selling vehicles. Government regulations place limits on the size and location of attention getting devices, signs. A limitation this flag exceeded but a requirement from which our flag is exempt. My thought was patriotism or is this humongous flag meant as an attention getting device, a sign. Using the symbol of our country as a sign certainly isn’t patriotic. This situation provoked other thoughts of how we we use our flag and portray patriotism.
The 1960’s saw American citizens protesting in our streets and on occasion burning the American flag in public claiming that what the flag represents does not actually exist for many Americans. Burning it was a means of recognizing injustice although that message was not received well. These protests and actions were often met with police intervention including dogs, rubber bullets, tear gas and arrests. Was the flag laying in ashes a patriotic display?
Civil rights and anti-Vietnam war protestors filled our streets, probably not nearly as many as our recollection distorted by time recalls. Certainly an abundance of clashes with police and even the national guard occurred. Calling for equal treatment for all or publicly criticizing a war many perceived as unjust and wrong was met with anger and fear. Was this call to step up and support what our flag represents being patriotic?
A professional athlete, an African-American, goes down on one knee during the playing of the national anthem while others stand. He explains his action is to create awareness of the injustice and treatment of African-Americans. For this he loses his job and is booed by the fans. Is this patriotic?
A career military officer, a ranger, serves on the National Security Council. He is called to testify before Congress regarding actions by the President of the United States. Wearing his uniform he attends this hearing, answers questions truthfully under oath as he should. That truth leads to his discharge. No one questioned the veracity of his statements. He was honoring the uniform he wore and nation he swore to defend. Did anyone raise a flag to defend him?
Recent times have witnessed a recurrence and a rise of hate groups, a label often attached inappropriately where it does not belong. Generally speaking, hate groups are, by definition, those that vilify entire groups of people based on immutable characteristics such as race or ethnicity.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) as a group sees themselves having been marginalized throughout our country’s history and that white lives have always mattered more in our society. BLM has created a sense of unease among white people who worry about the cultural changes in the country and feel they are falling behind in a country that is rapidly growing more diverse in a globalizing world. Harvard Business School described in a recent study: White people tend to see racism as a zero-sum game, meaning that gains for African Americans come at their expense. Our society as a whole still does not accept that racial injustice remains pervasive.
Protest organizers agree that non-violence is essential for public support. Some of the Black Lives Matter protests show regular people standing peacefully while being confronted by heavily armed police. In the 1960’s many viewed Rev. Martin Luther King as an agitator, even a dangerous radical much like the current view by some of the BLM group. Today Dr. King is seen as the personification of peaceful protest and non-violence.
Former President Trump and others described the BLM protesters as thugs and domestic terrorists. The Associated Press found many BLM protestors were young suburban adults with no previous run-ins with the law. This attitude and use of words to portray opposition demonstrators as a national security threat is often the refuge of authoritarians. The BLM group has generally clarified that it is not only about police violence but multiple issues of violence against Black people. This group calls for a society where Black people can live with dignity and respect. If that sounds familiar it is the essence of our constitution for all people. This organization, Black Lives Matter, is not a terrorist group. Are these protests an attempt to support what our nation claims to represent? Are BLM supporters raising our flag high in calling for justice?
.Many people predominantly within the GOP want to falsely equate the January 6th attack on our Capitol with various BLM protest events across our country. BLM protests are focused on the injustice black people receive. The mob that invaded the Capitol was an intentional, direct attack on a hallowed democratic institution, with the goal of overturning a fair and free election. The other was a coast-to-coast protest movement demanding an end to systemic racism that occasionally, but not frequently, turned violent. An analysis of more than 7,750 demonstrations in 2,400 locations across the country found that 93% happened with no violence according to the US Crisis Monitor, a joint effort by Princeton University and the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
The criminals entering the Capitol were fueled by baseless conspiracies propagated by Mr. Trump that the election was stolen from him through massive fraud. These terrorists smashed their way into the heart of the federal government, carrying the flag of the confederate states through the halls, seeking to interrupt the constitutionally mandated proceedings to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Lawmakers fled into hiding, and five people were killed, including a Capitol police officer who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher.
Our Capitol, our house, has prevailed against the winds of anarchy and sets on the pinnacle in the city on the hill. The halls of this edifice have been walked by some truly good people. The rotunda has provided a resting place for Americans, great Americans, to stop on their way home. This majestic structure overlooks a city designed to be the symbol of Democracy. There were no heroes or even good Americans storming our Capitol on Jan. 6th carrying the symbol of hate, racism and anti-semitism. No these were not good people, not pursuing a noble cause. As in our civil war this was a fight against each other, brother against brother and anarchy against Democracy. Those who participated and those who supported their actions deserve severe punishment. As in 1865 this nation rises above hate and contempt. We extend our arms out for the preservation of our unique life of liberty and tranquility for all. Please on one final note do not for one single second confuse our kindness for weakness. The price of liberty is high and you should know there are many ordinary people willing to make every sacrifice to protect our City on the Hill.