The Disturbing Patriotism of Rednecks

The TV was on in the other room, and in coming from the kitchen to the living room I caught a glimpse of some man with a ZZ-top beard cutting down an American flag from a flag pole, wadding it in his hands, yelling angrily into the camera, and then striding off. I had no clue what transpired. Something about “illegally flying” some flag and “I’m a veteran”, all the while brandishing some knife that was a good 7 inches long, kinda of like one of those Jim Bowie knives.

I was immediately irritated because first off – there’s no LAW regarding the flying of flags, specifically the American flag. There is an instructive code regarding the “flying of the colors. ”

Second off – I cannot stand seeing shirts, sweaters, hats, handkerchiefs – any article of clothing – that is basically turned into the American flag. (Section 8d of that code, BTW) I find that incredibly disrespectful. I always have. Now I know in some quarters, it is considerable patriotic fashion but it bugs the shit out of me.

All right, so we have owner of Cantina El Jaripeo in Reno flying the Mexican and American flags on the same pole. The Mexican flag was above the American flag. Someone contacted a Reno TV station regarding the legality of the flap flying. (Section 7g) Tonight, I watched a video of the incident at Crooks and Liars. I’m not impressed. It’s video of some fascist redneck posing as a patriot – again.

The other flag attached to the pole dropped to the ground, now how respectful is that?

The first question I had was why didn’t this asshole talk to the proprietor of the store? The proprietor of the bar is an American citizen. He didn’t realize there were the code requirements regarding the flying of an American flag in relation to another country’s flag. Perhaps if said asshole (Mr. Jim Broussard) had pointed out the error, the owner would have remedied the situation immediately.

And therein lies the problem for me because I find this aggressive patriotism totally unnecessary. How in the hell did this come about? When did it become okay to publicly demean or disrespect someone else in order to prove one’s high standing? When did it switch from being unacceptable socially to now just being overlooked or having defenders who become as volatile as the individual(s) whose actions they are defending.

Dave, The Quaker Agitator wrote about Mahmoud Ahmadineja’s reception at Columbia as well as the introduction by the college president, Lee Bollinger. Dave’s point is more about being allowed to continue thinking for one’s self, while my point is about the incredible rudeness that is apparently acceptable in insulting the sitting president of a sovereign nation who has been invited as a guest speaker to your institution.

Then yesterday, Dave put up this Who gets to decide who gets to speak? at our other hangout, Les Enrages. A ‘resident-fellow’ of a conservative organization writes that the U.N. should restrict the access of despots who are invited or schedule to speak to the general assembly of the U.N. Because of this man – “Burma’s minister for foreign affairs, U Nyan Win, a mouthpiece for the junta, mounted the steps to the main stage” who had the audacity to claim that “things in Myanmar have returned to normal.” Regardless of what was being streamed across the Internet throughout various news organizations, NGOs, blogs, and human rights organizations just to name a few outlets which indicated pretty damned starkly that, nope things were too peachy in Burma. It was so reminiscent of ole’ Baghdad Bob – don’t believe your own lying eyes.

While Dave’s point becomes . . . .

Who gets to decide who gets to speak? Who gets to be the final arbiter of what is right to say, and what cannot be said? The staff of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies? Or how about Code Pink? The National Education Association? Fox News? The judges from American Idol? Who exactly gets to pick what we all get to hear? And on what criteria will they base this decision?

. . . . my point is similar. When the hell did that responsibility pass from me to someone else? Not only will (or does) another decide, but it is done publicly AND rudely. By declaring or taking it upon one’s self to be enforcer/decider regarding who it is among us or outside our group or comfort zone is allowed to speak, the stage is set for those redneck fascists who believe it is patriotism that allows them to, 1) shield us (the American public) from speakers with unsightly thoughts, opinions, and points/hypotheses to disseminate; and, 2) to perform this shielding in an unsavory manner and “interpret” the message however is most beneficial. Beneficial to what, I’m not quite sure nor am I clear on what that is precisely or even generally.

I attended Ursuline College. It’s a Catholic women’s college, liberal arts affliated with the Ursuline nuns, Cleveland. As with many orders of Catholic sisters, their focus was tinged with social justice but they were thrown headlong and more deeply into the struggles confronting other peoples when one of their own nuns and a laywoman were raped and murdered in El Salvador in 1980, some months following the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. The campus often had speakers who provided diverse perspectives whose speeches or visits were either open to ‘the public’ or were more ‘local’ as for a particular class.

One year as part of Women’s History month, the director of our Multicultural Affairs office on campus managed to line up a woman who had been active in the French Resistance during WWII. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until about 10 minutes into her discussion of her life, education and work. It began to dawn on me and others that this woman was NOT who she had apparently represented herself to be. Yes, she was French and yes, she was Catholic – but there was unabashed disgust being expressed for Jews. One of our history professors asked her about the Vichy government and she proceeded with quite a defense of Phillipe Pétain, and then it became obvious. There was murmurings amongst the audience with our now tainted speaker throwing defiant looks our way, and then the questions became pointed. No one was rude; no one shouted; no one threatened to kick her elderly white ass when she walked out the door to her car. Civility was what she got. That’s all she got. That’s more than she would have gotten had some folks been in charge. And, I worry about that. I mean, it’s bad enough we have the Decider in charge (koo-koo-kachoo!) but an entire nation of Deciders?

I’m thinking, no.

[Oh, and for a different perspective, here’s a gentleman’s reflections on Mr. Ahmadineja’s reception at Columbia last month. He writes for the Pakistan Post.]

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13 Responses

  1. Wordsmith,

    Read the text at the link for the United States Code for flying a flag, such as in the instance at El Jaripeo in Reno, NV. http://uscode.house.gov/uscode-cgi/fastweb.exe?getdoc+uscview+t01t04+11057+13++%28American.

    I completely understand and APPLAUD Mr. Jim Broussard’s reaction to the American flag being flown below the flag of another nation. I, too, am a veteran and spent eight years defending our nation and our flag. Maybe if you spent a little time in defense of our country instead of attacking a vet you might understand Mr. Broussard’s passion in defending the flag. It’s the Jim Broussards of this country who keep it as free as it still is.

    The owner of El Jaripeo in Reno, NV didn’t know the code, you say? Well, if he is, in fact, a citizen of the United States (where did you verify that information?) then shouldn’t he be familiar with flag etiquette and code? Or was he one of these people who slid into citizenship under a previous amnesty program after he first criminally entered the United States, but is still, obviously, committed to Mexico.

    Theodore Roosevelt, in 1907 said, “There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

    The owner of El Jaripeo might hold citizenship here in the United States, but he is not a true citizen or it would never have crossed his mind to fly a Mexican flag so disrespectfully over an American flag!

  2. I completely understand and APPLAUD Mr. Jim Broussard’s reaction to the American flag being flown below the flag of another nation. I, too, am a veteran and spent eight years defending our nation and our flag. Maybe if you spent a little time in defense of our country instead of attacking a vet you might understand Mr. Broussard’s passion in defending the flag. It’s the Jim Broussards of this country who keep it as free as it still is.

    No, it is NOT the Jim Broussards of this country who keep it free; it’s the citizens.

    Jim Broussard is a red-necked fascist. You do not go to anyone’s place of business (or home for that matter), take something that is their property and destroy it. Broussard brandished a weapon for Christ’s sake!

    And, Carla – I have served my country in the military for six years. The oath, as I remember it, Carla, is to first and foremost support and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the flag. There’s no mention of the flag.

    Theodore Roosevelt said a lot of things, big deal on the xenophobic approach.

    As for this: The owner of El Jaripeo might hold citizenship here in the United States, but he is not a true citizen or it would never have crossed his mind to fly a Mexican flag so disrespectfully over an American flag!

    Using this logic any American apparently inherently knows how to ‘fly the flag’ properly. I just cannot tell you how many flags I see flying after dusk/dark and/or not properly illuminated, tattered to shreds, the union displayed improperly by apparent American citizens.

  3. I might add in further response to Carla’s stopping by.

    Across the street is a house with a flag attached to a flower bed/box that surrounds an 8-foot light pole, in the upper portion of the lawn. It’s in a bracket so it leans forward slightly. It’s out there rain, shine, night/day. A storm came thru two weeks ago and whipped the flag until it became entangled around the rod and the pole. Did the neighbors take care of it? No – not until it was brought to their attention. They took it down because it was torn up from the wind and have yet to replace it.

  4. Hey guys,

    What ever happen to “we are a nation of laws”. Break down what really happened. If in deed there is a law in Reno that says no other flag can be flown above an American flag then what could the penalty be? Yikes, Reno must be a great place to be from, as in you should get out of there. Mr. Broussard takes a dangerous weapon and damages another citizen’s property. Gee, that sounds like public endangerment, damaging personal property, potentially assault with a deadly weapon, and on and on. I hope with this video tape the crack police department of Reno snapped into action and arrested the individual who commited a FELONY! He needs to get a shave and act like every other red blooded American. As a Vietnam vet I’m so tired of this “I’m more American than you”. These guys are really scary. Let’s go smoke’m out. They’re dead enders and all that macho American sounding crap. Lighten up and try to live your days in a great country where most of us don’t want to be like these Nazis. They should make Mr. Broussard serve some time doing community service like cleaning the toilets at Jaripeo for a month or so. What a wacko.

  5. Why is it always OK for someone to be different but as soon as a person stands up for what he/she believes in that is not OK.
    Why can’t Mr. Broussard stand up for what he believes in.
    I would like to see what happens if an US immigrant to Mexico if they flew a US flag over their place of business in the same manner.

    I am the son of immigrants to this country and they never display any flag except that of the United States.
    They are still proud of there heritage but both are US citizens and love this country. My Father served in the US military for 25 years starting in WWII.

    The question is why do you want to live in the United States?
    To make money to send back to your relatives in the country you came from or is it to live in a true free democracy.

    If you want to display the flag of your former country why did you leave it if it is so great?

    Maybe this could have been handle differently but Mr. Broussard has a right to free speech as well.

    The owner of El Jaripeo should be proud to be in the U.S. or he could be a guy with a statue of a little man in a black derby, chicken parts and lit candles in the back room of his Restaurant for prosperity. That’s OK too.

    Don’t take away the one man’s rights for another.
    I guess with in his rights he could have assembled a peaceful march to protest the manner in which the restaurant displayed the United States flag.

    The police should have gone down there to correct the owner of El Jaripeo and this would have never happened.

  6. What a loser. I’m talking about You! NOT the vet. Hope you, and the idiots at that dive of a taco stand are out of business by now.

    Which vet? I’m a veteran as well….loser, indeed, eh Anon?

  7. Left side of the moon is correct for this site. By U.S. Code and tradition, no Flag flies above the US flag. I agree that the Mexican flag should not be flown above the US Flag, equal height yes, but never above. I am a veteran of 20 yers of service, I too would be very angry to see this happening, If they love Mexico, then show equal respect to both flags! We are a country proud of tis multiple heritage of cultures, and should not hold one above another, that symbol is our flag. It is ok to express yourself, but not at the expense of others. This issues of flags flying is offensive and I applaude the vet who cut it down! Mike and others talk about rights of the individual, what about their responsibility to our society???? Or are they too self absorbed to consider the rights of society?

  8. Jesus – fucking – Christ! The issue is not the goddamned flag!

    The redneck had NO right – NONE – to go and remove the flag forcibly while brandishing a weapon, the knife (see Jim Bowie type). THAT’S what it is about. He had never spoken to the proprietor of the business and didn’t speak to him about flag etiquette. As the proprietor of the business said, he did not know the protocol for flying another flag alongside the American flag while in the U.S.

    Mr. Broussard crossed the line the instant he touched that flag pole.

  9. “As the proprietor of the business said, he did not know the protocol for flying another flag alongside the American flag while in the U.S.”

    Keep the facts straight, the Mexican flag was flown above, not alongside the US Flag. It doesn’t matter if there is a code against it, it’s not something you do while in a country you’re apparently not from.

    I applaude the actions of the vet, if more people were put in their place for the stupd crap they do or they practiced a little more common sense to begin with, crap like this wouldn’t have to happen.

  10. The facts, eh? That was part of the news story – not my interpretation, BTW.

    Yes, the proprietor of the business had the Mexican flag flying above the U.S. flag. He did not know flag protocol. It does matter whether there’s a code. Simply put – the actions of this vet were over the line. What’s the problem in approaching the business proprietor FIRST before being a fucking redneck about it?

  11. What’s the problem with the business proprietor checking before he proceeded? He had to know this would be viewed unfavorably by Americans….he intended to insult us. Provoking people is never a good idea, especially when you’re running a business. Just plain stupid….what do you think might have happened had he tried to take the flag away from the veteran? Maybe 2 lives lost……one on the street and one in courts. Is it worth it?

  12. Now think about that – WHY would the proprietor check? And how can you speak regarding his INTENT. If you read the story, you’d know the proprietor was disturbed over the misunderstanding and his ‘ignorance’ regarding proper flag etiquette. It’s not his intent; it’s your twisted perception.

    Provocation – the idiot in this case is the veteran who cut the flag down. HE provoked the situation. Fortunately for him and all concerned, the proprietor and those with him at the time didn’t intervene. Plus he did have that big-ass knife.

  13. The discussion is over. The story is two years old and I have no interest in going in circles with you or anyone else for that on this news story.

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