Sunday, March 15, 2015

Flag Kerfuffle


Seems like Facebook, being such a visual medium, is good for a daily dose of outrage (or two).

When you use an image as powerful as the American flag it's easy to get noticed ... sometimes more so than you bargained for.

My initial reaction to a "flag flap" is always that of a police detective working a crime scene:  what's the motivation and intent of the perpetrator?

As long as no disrespect is intended and no gross liberties are taken with the (unenforced) Flag Code, I'm quick to declare innocence.

So if a man who serves this great country of ours wants to wrap his newborn babe in an American flag, that works for me.  Especially if the photographer is also a proud veteran.

I would much rather see him doing it than a two-bit politician wrapping himself in the flag as part of an orchestrated election campaign.

The all too typical Ivory Tower induced flag controversy in California, where students at UC Irvine voted to ban the American flag from their government offices, did bring on the shiver of deja vu.

Their left wing 20 point manifesto brands the American flag as representing "colonialism and imperialism" only to "serve as symbols of patriotism or weapons for nationalism."

Kind of like the UMass professor who strongly criticized the 29 commemorative American flags hanging in downtown Amherst on the night of September 10, 2001: "Actually, what the flag stands for is a symbol of terrorism and death and fear and destruction and repression."

Even without social media that quote, dubbed "The ill timed quote of the century" in a front page Wall Street Journal article, still managed to reverberate from sea to shining sea -- almost instantly.



29 commemorative flags are allowed to remember 9/11 once every 5 years on "milestone anniversaries."  Next time up is 2016 -- the 15th anniversary

The irony of course is flag detractors oftentimes do their symbolic bid for attention at some obscure governmental meeting.  But when the Chinese curse kicks in ("Be careful what you wish for") they dive under their desks and complain about all the negative feedback.

Lesson #1 about a most precious freedom our flag represents:  The First Amendment is a two-way street.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I want to thank that UMass professor for having said something so courageously unpopular that it would lead to a decade and a half of internet bullying from Mr. Kelley. There may have been other forms of harassment of her from other sources as well. Certainly we've come to expect it in this country.

Her statement caused me to reexamine my own views about our culture and our government. Although I don't fully agree, I thought what she said was worthy of extended discussion, on the substance.

The fact that her statement was made on the eve of 9/11 is utterly without significance. I want to live in a society in which people can safely speak what they fear might be unpleasant, inconvenient truths in the press and in the public square.

Rich Morse

Larry Kelley said...

Actually I have never engaged in Internet bullying (although I give as good as I take with Cowardly Anon Nitwits) and was kind enough not to use her name, although not all that hard to figure it out I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Luckily that flag represents the right to have kerfuffles....at least until something of actual significance happens.

Larry Kelley said...

And then when it does happen, the flag is there to bring hope.

Like when those three firefighters took a moment from searching for survivors to raise a flag over the rubble that was once those majestic Twin Towers.

Anonymous said...

My dear Mr. Kelley,

It would be fair to say that I love our flag, and it is true that the first song which proudly learned by heart was the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem - please consider those my bona fides.

Now I could be misremembering this, but I believe the good professor suggested that the flag was perceived in many parts of the world as such a symbol, and I understood her to be lamenting that unfortunate fact. So if my memory is correct (and I would appreciate your double-checking yourself), then you seem to be misquoting her again (and again), twisting the meaning in a way which is at best unfair and at worst libelous.

Your First Amendment rights don't trump hers: it does not grant a journalist the right to deliberately misquote or misrepresent another's speech.

Please take Mr. Morse's advice to heart….

Respectfully,

- Your Friend

Larry Kelley said...

No my "friend," read her quote again. Or better yet watch the video.

Kind of hard to "misrepresent" that.

Anonymous said...

When I heard this story- I was reminded of the group that came to protest at UMass last year. During their visit, a flag was used as a handkerchief.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, and I supported their American right to be assholes.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, if someone does not support all that the flag of OUR COUNTRY represents, they should seek a country that better supports them, and go live there. Now remember the U.S. is the melting pot, founded by those looking for a better place to live!

Stand behind those who serve, or stand in front of them!

Anonymous said...

I agree that 9-11 was a significant moment, but not the raising of that flag at that moment. It was ill placed as we had just failed as a nation.

Despite this, I do not feel the same level of pride when civilians post a flag on a pile of rubble of one of our cities that was successfully attacked. At that moment, I was actually feeling quite a bit of shame at our government's absolute failure to protect those people and their property (and our economy etc). That moment with the FF was not nearly as significant, but made a good iconic symbol....of us being attacked and hoping to find our citizens in the rubble...and putting off that activity for a minute or so.

That is a symbol/event I hope we never see it again...the attack or the delay during the recovery.

Too much respect for symbols as opposed to actions leads to flag kerfuffles feeling justified, despite their being theoretically more important stuff in peoples' personal and collective lives.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:07, who said "...they should seek a country that better supports them, and go live there."

Ask not what you can do for your country...

I recommend people who don't agree with 100% of American policy (who could?), to get involved and help change it. That's how democracy works.

Larry Kelley said...

And sunshine is what makes democracy work (properly).

trussdob said...

While the use of the flag in this manner does not follow proper etiquette/handling, one would be hard pressed to find malicious intent behind this photograph. The symbolism contained therein shows an immense and humbling respect for what it represents.

I think we as a nation might be in a better place if we took a bit more time to understand the intent of our fellow citizens' actions more often.

keithw said...

Anon 10:14

Raising the flag amidst chaos has tremendous historical significance for this country; Iwo Jima, Pearl Harbor, 1812 War come to mind. As far as symbolism goes, The National Anthem depicts our flag as a symbol entirely. It was written during a "perilous fight" and according to it's lyrics, there were several breaks in the action long enough to glance up from muskets to make sure "our flag was still there."

Anonymous said...

Hehe, the writer of the appropriately named blog somehow thought that democracy has something to do with our society or govt.

Democracy is when you vote on issues. Republic is when you vote on people to vote on issues for you.

The readers of this blog have likely only had a couple dozen chances of vote on issues and most of those were likely bonds.

You get a small fractional of a vote for people to vote for you, even smaller influence on issues (I challenge you to get a MA representative on the phone or in person and even if you do...).

Democracy, as a word, used outside of a classroom (and even often within) is often propaganda, as it was here.

You may still get some free speech rights, but this does not mean anyone, especially govt rulers, have to listen.

I think communism is more alive in Amherst than democracy. Likely true for most towns.

Jackie M'Vemba said...

Please get the Kennedy quote right.

Anonymous said...

Our flag will still be there long after you who denigrate both it and the republic for which it stands are long gone and well forgotten