Rinehart questions some displays of U.S. flag

Published 3:27 pm Monday, February 28, 2022

While driving on an interstate highway recently, I passed an 18-wheeler laboring up a hill. Mounted on the back doors of the trailer was a flagpole with a dingy red, gray and blue American flag hanging limply from it. I was reminded of other, similar sightings of pick-up trucks with flag poles mounted in the beds with American flags (and often Trump banners) trailing in their wake as they sped noisily down the road.
I assume the driver of the big rig (and probably others who viewed it) considered it a display of national pride or patriotism, but I wonder . . .
If one is proud of the nation’s symbol, why subject it in such a way to the damaging effects of the weather, the ripping forces of the wind, engine exhaust, and the dirt and dust stirred up from the roadway?
If one views the stars and stripes as a sacred symbol of the country and the freedoms enjoyed in it, why intentionally exhibit it in a manner that guarantees that it will be battered and soiled?
Maybe such displays of the flag are not about patriotism at all. Maybe they are selfish, attention-getting stunts, an in-your-face co-opting of a national symbol to make a base, personal or political point.
Self-styled patriots and would-be tyrants have often wrapped themselves in the flag as a way to assert their self-righteous claims to be more patriotic, love their country more and that they are in the right while all others are wrong. Over 250 years ago, George Washington warned, “guard against the impostures (i.e. deceptions) of false patriotism.”
You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it or does it.
Steve Rinehart

Email newsletter signup