More flags


Participants in the flag debate around my campus note that the American flag has been deployed in the service of heroic causes and of less heroic and admirable efforts.  The truth is that if you can’t find the flag used in the service of something you find offensive, well, you’re just not trying very hard.  At the height of the Boston busing controversy, an activist at City Hall used the flag to attack a black man in a suit who happened to be passing by.

Yippie activist Abbie Hoffman provoked controversy and arrest by wearing an American flag shirt while protesting against the war in Vietnam. (Most states then had [clearly unconstitutional] laws prohibiting flag desecration.)  It’s odd now to see that shirt as controversial; it looks most like a jersey from the US Olympic team in the 1970s.  Contemporary tea partiers are more creative and less deferential in using the flag design in their t-shirts (TEA-shirts?).

Ku Klux Klan rallyThe Ku Klux Klan routinely deployed the stars and stripes, bowing to no one in their pursuit of patriotism.

But civil rights activists, here marching to Montgomery, Alabama, weren’t about to let the Klan claim a monopoly on patriotism or the flag.

The point?  Both the very best and the very worst elements of America have grabbed the flag to inspire, legitimate, or camouflage their efforts.  Don’t let your opponents steal it from you.

About David S. Meyer

Author and professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine
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5 Responses to More flags

  1. We don’t follow the rule of law we need to create the peaceful country whereas everyone should be free and protest calmly without any violation

    • Free speech is tough. It means protecting people you don’t like or agree with. And the rule of law is the way this happens.

      • Last time I have conducted the Research the conclusion of that paper There is Law Equal Employment Opportunity whereas everyone have right to live with freedom as well equally opportunity but unluckily we don’t follow the basic principals. There is need to revise the law for the implementation

  2. Pingback: South Carolina votes to remove the Confederate flag – HS Insider

  3. Pingback: Flag battles at Hampshire College: the politics of diversion | Politics Outdoors

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