Symbols, Boycotts, and Free Speech #takeaknee versus #standfortheflag

As usual, more things that bring division are heating up here in America. But before I start, I have to remind myself that this is an international blog and that I have readers (per blog stats sorted by country from greatest to least views) from the USA, Canada, the UK, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Oman, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, the European Union, Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Jamaica, India, the Netherlands, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Taiwan, France, Qatar, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Nepal, the Bahamas, Pakistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Aruba, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Lesotho, Sweden, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Romania, Denmark, South Korea, Switzerland, Kuwait, Spain, Tanzania, Finland, Vietnam, and the Caribbean Netherlands. WOW! Thank you to each of you who have read this. You humble me!!!

Despite what you may see in the media, America is GREAT!!! You could come visit me, go for coffee, eat at the best restaurants, visit amazing museums, and 99% of the time be treated fairly and respectfully. America is AMAZING! Women can own property, drive cars, vote, get an education, participate in politics and wear bathing suits to the beach without fear of being stoned. Seriously, it’s awesome!!! Which leads me to the reason I’m writing this blog.

I LOVE America. It’s not perfect. But what place is? And now we have people kneeling to the American flag, burning the flag, using really rude gestures to bring “awareness” to discrimination. Back when women were burning their bras for equality, at least they weren’t hurting others in the process. YES, it’s your “free speech and American right” to protest the anthem and the flag, BUT you ARE hurting many people in the process. And you know what, I hate HATE. And your actions – to me – are absolutely, positively a form of hate speech in my opinion.

When I see people burning the LGBT rainbow flag in opposition to homosexuality, it makes me sick to my stomach. Whether you agree with homosexuality or not, there is no reason to do that even if it is your American right and freedom to do so. You can have your view without hurting others. When I see people picketing abortion clinics and calling broken women murderers, it makes me sick to my stomach. Whether you agree with abortion or not, there is no reason to spew hate even if it is your American right and freedom to do so. You can have your view without hurting others. When I see people using racial slurs and getting up in someone’s face (like white supremacists do or like people did to Muslims after 911), it makes me sick to my stomach. You can have your view without hurting others. And when I see a group of people kneel to the American flag which is a kick in the stomach to MANY Americans, I view that as wrong also. To me, it is a form of hate speech. And I hate HATE. Even if it’s your right to do so, you can have your view without hurting the Americans who do LOVE this country and honor the USA. The feelings behind the actions matter but that does not make the action right. I can really have an issue with my parents but that doesn’t give me the right to show disrespect and dishonor to them.

When the social media firestorm started, some people were saying that kneeling to the American flag is not about the flag and that the flag is just a piece of cloth. I tried to understand that position, but it’s just not true. Symbols have meaning. Whether it’s the cross, the tomb of the unknown soldier, the Robert E Lee monument, the American flag, the LGBT rainbow flag, the confederate flag (oh yes – many people hated the confederate flag. Apparently that flag meant more than a mere piece of cloth but now it’s not about the flag… ok…), these items are symbols that have meaning. Symbols have meaning. Period. It’s why people get tattoos of very specific things that have meaning to them. It’s not “just a tattoo”, it’s a symbol and to that person it matters. Again, the feelings are important but that does not excuse rude behavior.

To me America is the best country ever. If you come visit me at my house – and you’re welcome here regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc – there is an American flag flying in my front yard, one on our garage wall, and military flags in each of my boys’ bedrooms. Their Dad was in the Navy (and even worked on the presidents helicopters back in the day) and the kids want to go into the military too. We love God, our country, and people.

Right now all I am seeing clearly is a double standard. One minute a flag is offensive (because it offends you) and then the next day it’s not personal (because it offends me). And that’s just not right.


Iced tea cheers your way.


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