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In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation formally creating June 14 as Flag Day.

This calendar year, mere times just before the holiday break on Monday, the Stars and Stripes fluttered into the information cycle, with New York Times editorial board member and MSNBC analyst Mara Gay’s remark, on “Morning Joe,” about a procession of vehicles she had observed on Extended Island traveling flags.

It is only as virtuous a symbol as the particular person waving — or weaponizing — it.

Homosexual described remaining “really disturbed” by the motorcade, which consisted, she stated, of “dozens and dozens of pickup trucks with [expletives] towards Joe Biden on the again of them, Trump flags, and in some conditions just dozens of American flags. … The information was clear. ‘This is my region. This is not your state. I possess this.’”

The backlash on social media against what some perceived as Gay’s disrespect for the flag, and for The usa alone, was as swift as it was predictable. And, after The New York Times dared to defend its editorial board member, previous President Donald Trump’s acting director of nationwide intelligence, Richard Grenell, tweeted: “Dear God….the @nytimes justifies mocking the American flag mainly because Donald Trump likes the American flag. It’s propaganda for the ruling get together. We see it.”

Homosexual hadn’t mocked Outdated Glory, of course, only expressed chagrin at how she felt it was currently being applied. It’s quick for some to dismiss these types of conflation of the American flag with racism as overwrought. But not for other folks of us, like any person familiar with the massive 1939 Nazi rally at Madison Sq. Yard that decked itself in the Stars and Stripes.

Flags, of course, are symbols, and symbols can carry quite different meanings in various contexts. In some Japanese religions, a swastika represents divinity or very good fortune, but to most of us these times, at least in the West, the twisted-arm cross symbolizes anything extremely distinct.

It was that that means that was on display together with the American flag when the German American Bund, a Nazi group, arranged a “Pro-American Rally” — as the arena marquee proclaimed (just over “Rangers vs. Detroit”) — on Feb. 20, 1939, some six months before Nazi Germany invaded Poland and just as Hitler was finishing construction of his sixth focus camp.

The grand party started with a solemn procession of oversize American flags, with more than 20,000 ideal arms shooting forth like the Nazi salute as they passed. Then the Pledge of Allegiance was recited from the stage, followed by a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The phase highlighted a gargantuan illustration of George Washington, with equally oversize American flags flanking it. Attendees held aloft posters with slogans like “Stop Jewish Domination of Christian The usa.” Speeches referred to “job-using Jewish refugees.” American flags borne by attendees were waved in approval. One of the major speakers proudly extolled militant white supremacy. When an unarmed young Jewish man rushed onstage, he was viciously beaten by attendees right before law enforcement took him absent.

I really don’t know if any of the proprietors of the trucks Gay saw meant their American flags to telegraph racist sentiment. But it isn’t debatable that these types of sentiment exists — or that it is often accompanied, as it was in 1939 in Madison Sq. Backyard, by American flags.

In fact, U.S. background is rife with illustrations. A Pulitzer Prize-profitable photograph taken at a busing demonstration in Boston on April 5, 1976, displays an enraged young white male keeping a massive American flag like a spear and aiming it at a Black man, who was being restrained by the assaulter’s compatriot. The American flag as a weapon, wielded from an American.

In extra new memory is the impression of Outdated Glory at the “Unite the Right” rally that took location in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the summertime of 2017. The American flag in the enterprise of Confederate and Nazi types.

This kind of hijacking of the American flag by individuals who rightly evoke our disgust really should make distinct that it is a miscalculation to take care of the flag as a sacrosanct item. It is only as virtuous a image as the individual waving — or weaponizing — it. All over American heritage, bigots and zealots have been much more interested in co-opting the flag than employing it as a lodestar. It is not only realistic but vital to obstacle individuals who proper the flag for anti-American sentiments.

No a lot less than the celebrated 18th-century British author Samuel Johnson famous that shows of “patriotism” often stay “the past refuge of a scoundrel.” Johnson was decrying what he viewed as false patriotism, as opposed to the appreciate of one’s state that’s accurate patriotism. And hatred and anger and racism introduced as patriotism is not only false but dangerous.

I personally do not believe that the large the vast majority of Trump’s supporters are white supremacists. But it’s very well-founded that neo-Nazis have embraced him as a champion of their cause.

So knee-jerk critics of Gay should really cut her some slack. Her comment wasn’t about our nation’s flag but about what she sees as its co-opting by individuals she regards as a menace to exactly what it’s intended to stand for: gratitude for our “one country under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

And, as we could very well ponder these days, it’s that sentiment, in the finish, not a piece of fabric dyed pink, white and blue, that Flag Working day is intended to honor.