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Standard Deviations: Flag desecration is flag desecration, no matter who does it

By Mark Saal, Standard-Examiner - | Jun 16, 2019

How did I completely miss out on the latest riveting episode of “So You Think You’re Patriotic Enough to Call Yourself an American?”

I was driving home from work on Thursday evening, passing through Layton, when I happened upon something that left me scratching my head. Two huge suction cups were attached to the drivers-side back window of a passenger car, supporting a staff from which hung what resembled a large American flag.

But there was something odd about this particular flag.

In place of its horizontal red stripes were what looked to be black stripes. What’s more, all of the usual blue on the flag looked black — except for one blue horizontal stripe across the middle of the flag, just below the field of stars.

I couldn’t recall ever seeing a flag like that.

When I got home, I Googled “weird-looking American flag” and a quick search of the image results gave me my answer.

Parenthetically here, is this an amazing time to be alive, or what? I love that the answer to virtually any question is just a few keystrokes away. But even more than the ease with which I can get info, I love that everyone else can look it up, too. Because it means people aren’t calling me with their questions anymore.

Back in the 1980s, when I got my start as a reporter, there was no such thing as Siri, or search engines, or even the internet. At that time, whenever someone was trying to settle a bar bet, or had some other random question they simply couldn’t find the answer to, they’d call the newsroom. And we’d either look it up in one of the countless almanacs and encyclopedias in our newsroom library, or make a quick call to a source.

Sometimes, if we were on deadline or just in a bad mood, we’d simply make up an answer.

CALLER: “Yeah, me and a buddy here at the shop have a wager. He says Secretariat won the 1975 Kentucky Derby, and I say it was Seattle Slew. So who’s right?”

REPORTER: (Shuffling papers on his desk to make it sound like he’s looking it up in some authoritative text) “Actually, you’re both wrong. In 1975, the Triple Crown winner was a horse named Mr. Ed.” (CLICK)

So anyway, the other thing Google revealed in my “weird-looking American flag” search was that these odd-colored flags date back at least two — maybe three — years. Really? How had I completely missed this?

Apparently it’s called the “Thin Blue Line American Flag,” and its intent is to show support for law enforcement. In some versions, the words “BLUE LIVES MATTER” are even inscribed across the bottom of the flag.

Now, I realize you people probably already knew all this, and that I’m coming to the party late here. But I must say, I was totally flabbergasted.

I mean, how are people OK with these flags?

I get why liberals might turn a blind eye to altering the U.S. flag — what with them being just this side of commies and all. But how is a flag like this even remotely acceptable among all of the patriotic conservatives out there who believe that our star-spangled banner is divinely inspired? How is this not desecration of the flag?

Where are the people who popped veins in their necks over millionaire athletes quietly kneeling during the National Anthem because they thought THAT was disrespecting the flag? And yet they’ve got no problem with a protest that turns the nation’s beloved red, white and blue symbol into one that’s black, white and blue.

Listen, if the Black Lives Matter movement were to create an all-black American flag with black stars and black stripes set against a field of dark gray, you can bet Republicans would try to ram a flag-desecration bill through Congress faster than you could say “Colin Kaepernack wasn’t all that great of a quarterback.”

And I’ll bet you a gazillion dollars if the LGBTQ community gave each of the stripes in the American flag a different color of the rainbow, Republican heads would quite literally explode.

Supporting law enforcement is one thing. But altering the flag for the purpose of making a statement just isn’t right.

So what I’d better start to hear right now is all the flag-worshipping conservatives out there voicing your strenuous opposition to these Thin Blue Line flag desecrations. Because otherwise, besides the aforementioned black and rainbow versions, I’ve got all sorts of ideas for more themed American flags that we could start to unfurl around town:

• The Thin Pink Line Flag — Designed to show support for breast cancer awareness.

• The Thin Green Line Flag — Designed to show support for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal.

• The Thin Purple Flag — Designed to — what else? — show support for Weber State University.

• The Thinning Orange Line Flag — Designed to show support for the current president of the United States.

Disrespect is disrespect. Desecration is desecration.

For an American to feign patriotic indignation over football players taking a knee during the National Anthem and not be equally incensed over changes to that very symbol they claim to revere is nothing short of hypocrisy.


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