I wrote an entry on my Facebook page yesterday that struck a chord with a couple of my friends enough that they asked to share it, and I thought I might as well polish it up and make a blog entry about it. My words are my soul’s music, and I am a natural born protester against injustice, especially when the injustice is staining that which I hold precious and dear. When the injustice is hurting the goodness that should be nurturing what I consider my guiding force. A protest should spark outrage and attention and bring light to bad things. The more alarming it is to people, the more it should make people think. If someone does not think beyond the why of the protest, or examine why it makes them angry or uncomfortable, their cognitive distortions are controlling them. When the nation consumed itself with football players deciding to kneel for the national anthem, making a snarled issue out of the protest, I got rather upset. Way too many people decided to focus on making this an issue about disrespecting the flag itself. And lo and behold someone on twitter decided to finally bring out the flag code, something that everyone seems to have forgotten existed…and I rejoiced, because it went viral. I was no longer some vague voice in the darkness and void blathering about the flag code like some old biddy in the back of a bingo hall of a musty VFW, Rural America ™, that chirped away like a broken record.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a reverence for our flag. and when I found out there was an actual code for the flag, I made sure to follow said code. and I taught my kids that code. It’s extremely important to note that according to the federal flag code *any representation* of the flag is covered. If someone *thinks* the flag is being represented, the code applies. Here, taken directly from the code: “The words ‘flag, standard, colors, or ensign’, as used herein, shall include any flag, standard, colors, ensign, or any picture or representation of either, or of any part or parts of either, made of any substance or represented on any substance, of any size evidently purporting to be either of said flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America or a picture or a representation of either, upon which shall be shown the colors, the stars and the stripes, in any number of either thereof, or of any part or parts of either, by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag, colors, standard, or ensign of the United States of America.”
I have spent a lot of time today watching people get very upset over the disrespect, apparently, that people opting to sit during the anthem is showing the flag. Yes…sitting during the anthem is contrary to the flag code. But this is a protest. A protest for a very good reason. Systemic institutional racism in our nation is a terrible plague and it needs to stop. The people moaning about disrespecting the flag are using this excuse to ignore the meaning behind the protest while blatantly ignoring the rest of the flag code. There are SO MANY aspects of the flag code that I have seen commonly violated over the years that I am no longer disgusted or shamed. The tawdry treatment of our flag has become so commonplace that I’ve become used to it being treated as a petty rag. But the flag code violations are still my pet peeve, because I love my country and I love my flag. It means something to me. The ideals behind it mean something to me. I proudly served my country, and I believe my country can evolve into a really great sea of awesomeness…because I believe in social evolution, and I believe in the principles my country was founded on. That flag represents some powerful stuff. So when people cherry pick reasons to ignore a protest to make this country better, and use the flag code to do it, I get snippy. You don’t get to proclaim to be a patriot all about protecting and respecting the flag if you shop on flag day or drape yourself in tacky flag clothes or use disposable flag napkins or for fuck’s sake display the flag wrong (oh that’s a big one to me…the union goes on the UPPER LEFT!). There are no criminal penalties for violating the flag code. While the code is law, there are no penalties for violating the law; therefore it is considered custom held in utmost high regard akin to reverence and sanctity. The reasons behind there being no penalties lie in constitutional law. It’s deeply ironic that those who object to this protest as disrespectful don’t see how purely American the act is. Once again the vast majority of the populace cannot engage in dialectics, and hold two different feelings or objective views at once. This shortcoming is to their detriment and causes no end of strife. It utterly blinds them to the ability to even *see* the reason for the protest because they are too busy feeling a false sense of disrespect.
The big hypocrisy strikes again. When this all hit the airwaves last year, there were hardly any folks who stood for the anthem, and those that did stand mostly stared into the distance. They didn’t sing. They didn’t put their hands over their hearts. They didn’t remove their hats. At sports events, graduations, Fourth of July fireworks, etc. over the years, I’ve seen a dwindling of people who stand. And those that do are usually older people who struggle up. But suddenly after one black guy decides not to…oh, everybody has to show what patriots they are! All to ignore and deflect away from the reason why he decided not to stand in the first place…and it’s happening again, but now it’s because it’s disrespecting the flag.
Don’t you dare show me your false sincerity. If it wasn’t there for the past forty years or so, earnest and complete, I don’t want to hear your deflections. Do something about why this protest is happening.