The Power of our Flag in Progressive Protest
Four major productive types of protest involve our Flag.
Protest Type A - a minority or oppressed group of Americans proudly flying our Flag is a form of protest to those who oppose their rights to equality. Leaders of all major civil rights movements and progressive causes since slavery - have embraced the symbolism and proudly flown the Flag while fighting for the ideals of the Flag to be more broadly manifest. Racists in the South were appalled to see African-Americans marching with the Flag in marches across the South in the 1960's. You can define the value and meaning of the flag or it can be used to define you.
Protest Type C -As the Flag is generally considered the symbol of National pride and reflection of American values - it is often the object of protest. Most recently many athletes - spurred by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick - have kneeled (or raised a fist) facing our Flag during our national anthem. Most Americans have an opinion on whether this is appropriate.
#1 We support all American's right to free speech/expression inclusive of the kneeling.
#2 We highlight that Kaepernick has expressly stated his intentions to protest was not of the Flag specifically but out of awareness that the ideal values of the Flag of Liberty and Justice for all do not apply equally to all Americans - and call attention to this injustice. The message of Kaepernick has often been misrepresented - he has expressed his desire to have the Flag represent more accurately Liberty and Justice for all. The exaggerated reaction to his protests are as if he burned or desecrated the Flag highlight how deeply important symbol our Flag is in the American psyche and further inspiration it must be reclaimed.
Protest Type B - flying the flag upside-down. The Flag inverted - "in distress", * The Flag when flown upside is a sign of "urgent distress". It is open to debate what constitutes "urgent distress". This is the an effective use of protest of the Flag - as it maintains - it easily emphasizes that the ideals of the Flag are not being honored. Per THE FLAG CODE Title 36, U.S.C., Chapter 10 as amended by P.L. 344, 94th Congress Approved July 7, 1976.
Protest Type E - Burning the Flag
Burning the Flag is the most counter-productive form of protest incorporating the Flag. It is done by extremists on the Right and Left. On the Left - groups such as the "anti-fascists" blame the U.S. Government for social ills and seek to disrupt society and at times legitimate protests with their at times violent and exclusionary protests - and embrace of symbol of the U.S. Government and authority - the Flag. Flag burning is protected in the Constitution - though a Constitutional Amendment failed as recently as 2006.
Protest Type D - Embedding imagery of our Flag or modifying the symbolism of our Flag to emphasize the patriotic values embedded in our Flag. This great banner-flag was created by Patriots in NWGSDPDX.org
Occupy Oakland protestors
Dylan Roof racist murderer
Extremists on the Right see the Flag as no longer representative of their exclusionary and racist ideals of America. Dylan Roof murderer of nine members of the historically-black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a bible study on June 17, 2015. After he was captured, authorities learned Roof had written what a manifesto in which he proclaimed “I hate the sight of the American flag. Modern American patriotism is an absolute joke. People pretending like they have something to be proud while White people are being murdered daily in the streets.”
We who fight for liberty and justice for all - are true Progressive Patriots - as we love this country and strive to make it greater and a more perfect inclusive union, using our Flag to unify and expand inclusivity in our Democracy; whereas extremists groups, the modern GOP - use the Flag often for exclusivity.