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Testing the Blue Line Flag’s meaning

Full discosure: I was not a fan of the “defund the police” concept. Not even a little. Clearly, we need police. But in the wake of the incidents that triggered the BLM movement, coupled with the outrageous police tactics I witnessed at Occupy events and DNC conventions I covered, I am a very strong proponent of demilitarizing the police. That is, not every citizen is a potential enemy and secret Al Qaeda member.

There are pockets of reflexive strong law and order, “my country love it or leave it”, dog-eat-dog, “Trump is a Demi-god who never did anything wrong, you liberals are Antifa terrorists who are my enemy” citizenry here in Western PA. Fortunately, I don’t have to live in those neighborhoods but I visit often enough that I find it unsettling. It isn’t any surprise to me that these kinds of neighborhoods have a lot of those blue line American flags. Or American flags in general.

A small digression: for those of you who do not know, I grew up as a child hostage of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and was not allowed to salute the flag in school. (Other JW kids would tattle. They are raised to be informants at a young age. I was a silent dissident but I digress on my digression.) Anyway, I had to stand there and listen to everyone around me salute and even though I still can not to this day say all of the words correctly, I spent that time pondering what those words actually meant. It means, damn I’m lucky to be living here where Liberty and the Rule of Law actually mean something and that is worth defending. I’m not saying the FLAG is worth defending. I’m saying the concepts that our country was built upon and aspires to are worth defending. Big difference.

I think this is what sets some Trumpish conservatives and liberals apart. We aren’t wrapped up in symbols. To us, a flag is a identification we carry into the world. But it isn’t enough if we don’t live up to what our country was founded upon.

Putting a blue line flag on your house seems to be a tribal identity. It says the police should be defended no matter what. Subscribing to that notion makes you a member of the neighborhood and the political group that represents you. It doesn’t take a lot of thought though. It doesn’t ask the bearer to consider fairness, justice, due process, various scenarios. It’s automatic and inflexible.

Ok. So if you completely, absolutely, 100% support the police and demand that everyone respect their authority and that they put their lives on the line, then why not support the bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 Insurrection and attack on the Capitol where so many Capitol police engaged in hand to hand combat to protect our Constitution?

I only ask.

And so do members of the Capitol police and the families of Capitol police who lost their lives and suffered serious injuries on that day.

The one-on-one meetings involving Sicknick’s family, police officers and Republican senators highlighted a stark choice for GOP lawmakers: either stand with former president Donald Trump, who opposes the commission, or members of law enforcement.

Nearly 140 officers were assaulted during the failed insurrection as they faced rioters armed with ax handles, bats, metal batons, wooden poles, hockey sticks and other weapons, authorities said.

The House last week passed legislationthat would form an independent commission to investigate the attack. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday began the process of setting up a Senate vote on the bill, which could come as early as Thursday evening.

But the legislation’s prospects in the Senate remain dim. Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to join them in supporting the measure for it to pass. McConnell has voiced opposition to the commission, dismissing it Thursday as “extraneous” and arguing that it would not uncover any new facts.

I think we all know why members of the US Senate are resisting the passage of this bill. And it does mean they have made their choice. It is this: the opinions of the former president who has an iron grip on their manhoods, is more important to them than upholding the rule of law, Constitutional procedures, and all that the Capitol Police defend deserve. It doesn’t mean they support the Capitol police at all. They feel free to accept their protection when it’s convenient and throw them under the bus when it is not.

That’s what it means. And all the blue line American flag and “rah-rah, look at me I have an American flag outside my house on Memorial Day” displays may only be empty but powerfully emotional symbols paraded by the duped and robotic minds of the people who display them. That and nothing else.

It does not mean that those people support the republic for which it stands or liberty and justice for all.

They shouldn’t kid themselves.

6 Responses

  1. I grew up in a small suburb, mostly filled with very Conservative White people, and where being liberal and Jewish made us part of a small enclave. I do remember a boy in school, Carl, who would not stand for the Pledge, and the kids whispering, “Why doesn’t he stand??” And then somebody once at recess said that his religion says that he should not stand, so that seemed to take care of it, and he even got a bit of admiration for it. Still, it must be hard to stand out like that. A well meaning teacher in an early grade, said in class,” Bill, since you are Jewish, can you tell the class about Hanukah?” Well, I knew enough about it at that age to get by, but it did feel awkward, as if I were some outlier from a different world, although I do imagine that the teacher thought she was doing something nice.

    There were all sorts of flags put up by the John Birch Society types who lived on my street. And I imagine that there were “Love it or leave it” bumper stickers on the cars. They wanted to get rid of the PTA, as an alleged subversive organization, and vehemently protested fluoridated water, which somehow they thought was a Communist plot, like vaccinations now. These kind of people seem compelled to trumpet their idea of patriotism. True patriots, who understand the ideal of America, do not need to. They did it in the ’60’s, waving flags all over the place, and wanting a law banning and maybe executing anyone who defaced a replica of the flag.

    I remember in junior high school, being in some leadership group, and we put up the flag each morning; and we were told by people who were in the Boy Scouts that you must absolutely not let the flag touch the ground. And the flag was rather big, and it was hard to get it up on the pole without a corner brushing the ground, but we barely did. it is a fine symbol, but it is a symbol. These people thought nothing of 57,000 Americans dying in Vietnam, or all the mass shootings in this country, but the flag must be kept off the ground, and you said the Pledge of Allegiance every day in elementary school, and you said it so often, it meant very little; and my parents told me how the Republicans put in the words “Under God,” in the 1950’s. The Far Right covers itself in symbols and trappings, just like people (mostly them) want everyone to know how pious they are. And they are very adaptable; they think that trying to overthrow our government was warranted, and that the police officers who tried to defend the capital should be maimed and killed, for what they think is a higher cause, which is that everyone should think like them.

    • Like I said, I was a hostage of the JWs. I didn’t choose it. I’m just not cut out for authoritarian high control group eschatological religious cults. It SUCKED being forced to stand out and get excluded from normal cultural activities. I wouldn’t recommend it and there’s nothing admirable about it.
      If anyone had been looking carefully, I was blinking a “Help! I’ve been kidnapped and am being forced against my will to participate in the most boring, irritating, joyless religious experience since Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas, music and dancing and made everyone wear black”.

      • Oh, I was not in the slightest implying that it was a good place to be. What you wrote just took me back to that time, when it seemed the biggest mystery as to why this boy was not reciting the pledge. To be forced to stand out when you have no wish to, certainly not in that context, is terribly wrong to put anyone through, particularly a child.

  2. Harold Bloom’s 1992 book, The American Religion, includes a chapter (the 9th) on the Witnesses.

    Well, not so much a “chapter” as a politely savage carving of a new arsehole. 😈

  3. Off-topic weekly reminder:

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    Both shows can be found at http://arkansasrocks.com/

    If you can’t catch Beaker Street live, MP3 files are available soon afterward at https://beakerstreetsetlists.com/

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