What Did Flag Guy Do To You?

While the eyes of a nation have shifted to the Supreme Court squirrel, a small group of people elsewhere continue to go out at night to demand a show of allegiance to their cause. It’s not exactly news anymore, as it happens night after night, unless it comes to your neighborhood.

Terrance Moses was watching protesters against police brutality march down his quiet residential street one recent evening when some in the group of a few hundred suddenly stopped and started yelling.

Why, you might wonder, are they marching down a “quiet residential street”? What did the people who lived on that street do to them, to anyone? If the protest is against police brutality, whether in general or exclusively toward black people and, well, they’re good with police brutality otherwise, was this quiet residential street a hotbed of cops doing bad things? Or were these just ordinary people who had no particular association with police, no less brutal police?

Did anyone who decided that marching down this quiet residential street consider that these weren’t their “enemy,” but perhaps empathetic friends, even if not so much so that they were ready to leave the kids alone at night to join their march and, if the opportunity arose, burn a cop car?

Mr. Moses was initially not sure what the protesters were upset about, but as he got closer, he saw it: His neighbors had an American flag on display.

“It went from a peaceful march, calling out the names, to all of a sudden, bang, ‘How dare you fly the American flag?’” said Mr. Moses, who is Black and runs a nonprofit group in the Portland, Ore., area. “They said take it down. They wouldn’t leave. They said they’re going to come back and burn the house down.”

Moses and his neighbors blocked the marchers that night and told them to leave. His skin color may have given him sufficient cred to tell the angry white children to get lost, but he couldn’t stand there forever.

“We don’t go around terrorizing folks to try and force them to do something they don’t want to do,” said Mr. Moses, whose nonprofit group provides support for local homeless people. “I’m a veteran. I’m for these liberties.”

The problem is “we” do. At least, they do, meaning however many people within the group of marchers, maybe all of them, for whom a person flying an American flag was enough of a provocation to rationalize destruction. But they’re frustrated.

Nearly four months after the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, some protesters against police brutality are taking a more confrontational — and personal — approach. The marches in Portland are increasingly moving to residential and largely white neighborhoods, where demonstrators with bullhorns shout for people to come “out of your house and into the street” and demonstrate their support.

Others, frustrated that little has changed since Mr. Floyd was killed, say that sitting idly and watching a protest without participating nowadays is to show tacit support for racism.

This reflects the Kendi version of reality, where every life is either dedicated to fighting racism by the means he and people with bullhorns or Molotov cocktails demand, or they’re racists and deserve to burn.

Actually what I’m saying is we should eliminate the term “not racist” from the human vocabulary. We are either being racist or antiracist. Is that clear for you? There’s no such thing as “not racist.”

The otherwise ordinary people, living in their houses on quiet residential streets, did nothing to harm anyone. They may have welcomed black people into their homes and workplaces as brothers and sisters. They may be black, like Moses, happy to enjoy a good neighborhood of kind and decent people. They may be any variation in between, people being whatever they are and, surprisingly, remarkably diverse just by their nature.

Yet that’s not good enough. It’s not good enough for demagogues like Kendi, for whom anyone not being his version of antiracist is a racist. It’s not good enough for a few hundred marchers who are shocked that they haven’t caused the nation to bend to their will. Clearly, more forceful means are needed, and clearly they must be directed at the heinous racists who . . . fly an American flag.

The American flag that generated controversy is displayed in Kenton, a neighborhood of Portland with small bungalows, lush front gardens and ripe fruit trees. Weeks after the confrontation, the husband and wife who fly the flag said they were fearful of retaliation from the roving protesters, who had found their phone number.

Some will “understand” the marchers’ frustration. They adore symbolism, and the flag symbolizes being pro-police, pro-Trump, pro-conservative and, of course, racism. Why it’s being flown isn’t entirely clear. Perhaps the homeowner just loves America. Perhaps he’s a veteran. Perhaps he just likes flags. Perhaps he’s a cop lover.

But they say they will not be intimidated into removing the flag.

“I will not take my flag down,” said the husband, who declined to provide his name in a brief interview.

Some of the unduly passionate will persist in arguing that the cause of ending racism remains the good cause, the just and moral cause, even though they do not support the method of intimidation of random ordinary people. But this isn’t protest. They aren’t expressing their views to their elected officials to seek redress. They’re engaging in secondary action, annoying the normies to coerce them to put pressure on elected officials to do as the mob demands so their kids aren’t awakened in the middle of the night on what used to be a quiet residential street.

And if they don’t get their way, they will burn it down the night Moses isn’t there to tell them to get lost. Flag guy refuses to remove the flag because he won’t be intimidated. The woman in the D.C. restaurant who supported Black Lives Matter refused to raise her fist because they demanded she do so upon threat of attack. But they’re racists in the minds of frustrated marchers and Ibram Kendi, so they deserve whatever happens to them. And American flags are only good for burning anyway these days.

31 thoughts on “What Did Flag Guy Do To You?

  1. Brandon

    Have you read any of Dr. Ibram Kendi’s works? It seems inappropriate to link him to aggressive ideology without reviewing the depths of his work. You may disagree with the statement in the tweet, but it’s not appropriate to provide no link between that and the tactics being used. I would consider taking in the depth of his experience and research before wholesale dismissal and defamation. I have no reason to believe he’d support these kind of bullying tactics, but I could be wrong.

    1. SHG Post author

      Normally, I would trash a comment so utterly worthless as yours, but I decided to post it for one reason: Just because your nuts are in a delusional twist doesn’t compel the rest of the world to obsess over rationalizing your outcome. If you have something pertinent to say about Kendi, do it.

      But you don’t have a clue (“I could be wrong”) and are just upset that his actual fucking words are used and don’t produce the result that confirms your bias? Too fucking bad, kid. Ignorance is not a justification for being ignorant.

      1. Brandon

        I have read some of his works, looked at his words, tried to look for interviews that would back up your association with the violence, and I found nothing. It is not on me to back up your claim that Kendi believes all racists should burn- which are not his own words- that’s your claim. How to be an Anti-Racist is where he lays out the arguments for why he believes we should stop referring to ourselves as not racist. Whether you agree with him on that premise or not, I think it is inappropriate to characterize him as an advocate of violence. Also, don’t use ad hominems- did I use that correctly, because you failed to address the point of my comment and instead assumed I was an ignorant kid. You moderate your comments, and only posted mine to attempt to make an example out of me- instead you showed me your deeper character. I apologize if my comment irked your ire, but I was hoping you might back up your claims or to enlighten me further why you would associate him violence.

        1. SHG Post author

          First, no, you didn’t use ad hominem correctly. Second, I didn’t refer to Kendi to argue he promotes violence, but he promotes the notion that people who are in their homes rather than marching are racists by dint of not being antiracists, and are therefore a proper target for antiracists to attack.

          And third, it’s not my job to re-explain my post to every dolt who needs smaller words.

          1. Rick Horowitz

            So, uh, calling someone an ignorant kid instead of addressing his point isn’t ad hominem? How do you define ad hominem? When I studied logic, that was the very definition of it: attacking the person (“you ignorant kid”) instead of the argument (“have you read Kendi? because Kendi doesn’t say that”).

            And, oh, by the way. The ignorant kid was right: Kendi doesn’t say what you are imputing to him. I re-read your post a couple times, looking for the quote where Kendi said, “Go intimidate people into saying they support you.” Did I miss it?

            It’s also not in any interviews I’ve hear him give. I suspect, based on what he does say, that he would disapprove these marching bands of wannabe woke people.

            Those people are wrong here, as well. Kendi would not support what they are doing, because it is fake, and ineffective. Even if they scared people into saying what they want them to say, they can’t follow them into the ballot box.

            From what i’ve seen Kendi wants to address the structural problems.

            I strongly suspect Kendi would throw more support to the good work you have done for decades, than to the minutes put in by the wannabe woke.

            1. SHG Post author

              I try sometimes to save a pal from posting a really dumb comment so that other people don’t say to themselves, “Jeez, I thought that guy was smart and not a blithering idiot. Boy, was I wrong.” Sometimes, even pals don’t want to be saved from themselves. So be it.

              An ad hominem is when someone argues that “Rick is stupid; therefore anything Rick says is stupid.” It is not “Rick said something stupid, therefore Rick is stupid.” Reply to stupid points has nothing to do with it.

              Nonetheless, I responded to Brandon’s stupid point, that my point isn’t that Kendi calls for violence. It’s right there, right above your comment. Why you failed to see it, read it, understand it, I can’t explain. But because you’re a pal, I’m going to explain it yet again, this time as clearly as I can. Kendi does not call for violence. Kendi contends that the only way to not be racist is to affirmatively be antiracist. This call to be affirmatively anti-racist has manifested in people taking to the streets and engaging in violence and destruction.

              Kendi deliberately whipped up the useful idiots into a frenzy of antiracism, and they went out and did what they believed they should do. Kendi didn’t utter the words, “destroy.” That was just the way Kendi’s call to be affirmatively antirascist was put into action. Then again, Kendi didn’t condemn the riots or looting either.

              If this doesn’t clear it up for you, then I can’t help you.

            2. Rick Horowitz

              I broke my own cardinal rule here, which is read, but don’t comment. So in for a penny, in for a pound, I guess.

              Kendi does not, anywhere I have yet read, say what you impute to him about targets for “attacking.” That people twist what he says is on them; not him. If I twist your Tuesday Talk to say you think prosecutors should reinstitute Star Chambers because mobs will rage if the government embraces transparency, that would be twisting your words, yes?

              From what I see, you did the same.

              Then, instead of going at the point, you simply reiterated the claim, and called someone who called you on it ignorant.

              But that does, sadly, happen when someone here doesn’t post a song, or a poem, or agreement, and hence my rule, to which I shall return. You write a lot of good stuff, and thought-provoking stuff, which is why I read your blog. But you don’t seem to like it much when someone doesn’t toe your line. (Thus my recent parenthetical equivocation on a blog not worth reading, about whether you still considered me a friend, as I do you. I disagree with you on some things, like this. That’s all.)

            3. Brandon

              I simply thought I was pointing out a non-sequitor, and I think it is intellectually dishonest to say you didn’t link his words and world view with violent rhetoric and action when you hyperlinked it.

              I am pretty sure I understand the point of your blog post, and I honestly am not completely in disagreement with it- but some of the conclusion I think is lost in a fallacious logical leap. Not that the conclusion is wrong, but that there is not enough evidence to conclude the assumption that Kendi’s words and/or worldview attributes or adds to the current events, specifically riots and bullying. I agree that these are not tactics worth pursuing, and misidentifying the enemy of progress will just turn the movement into a lost cause. Except Kendi once considered himself to be racist, and I don’t think he believes that he was an enemy worth being destroyed or bullied- so I don’t think he means anything related to the events in your post. I tried to do that in as polite a way as I could despite the personal slights and insults. I also don’t feel it is truly my place to defend or speak for Kendi, I can only represent my impression of him through his work and interviews- and I understand that you can have a different perspective of him. I just don’t believe you laid out enough evidence to back up your perspective.

              The feeling I get from the attacks though is that often, including my comment, is that people approach pointing these things out with the wrong language, and you’ve adapted a style of aggressive demeanor to discourage these comments.

              The bigger issue I had was with others that felt the need to comment, simply regurgitating your insults in a sycophantic uninspired elitist frat boy way. I ignored them, and wasn’t going to post another comment because I was sure this page was full of professional trolls. It is nice to know that not everyone on here is like that. I still read your blawg from time to time, but perhaps I will avoid commenting in the future.

              Anyway, I’ll stop murdering words.

            4. SHG Post author

              We used to say everybody is the hero of his own story. Now it’s everybody is the victim of his own story. Whatevs.

              Protip: Use far, far fewer words, but choose them with enough care to make a cogent point.

            5. Brandon

              You have to overcome something to become a hero, otherwise you’re just living a boring story. People create their own dragons to slay.

            6. David

              Scott: “Kendi does not call for violence.”
              Rick: “Kendi does not, anywhere I have yet read, say what you impute to him about targets for ‘attacking.'”

              This isn’t about your “toeing” the line, Rick. Scott told Brandon in clear simple terms. Scott told you the same. Your inability to follow the most basic of points is just pathetic, and your attacking Scott for not approving your basic lack of reading comprehension is damning. I don’t know if you’re delusional or just plain stupid, but it’s awfully hard to ever take you seriously again. Sorry, Rick, but that’s entirely on you.

            7. `Miles

              Brandon, we’re mostly crim defense lawyers. We get the point in the first ten words, don’t give a shit about saying in three words what some sensitive soul will say in 100 so as not to ruffle anyone’s feathers.

              But whenever someone says something stupid, and Scott tells them it’s stupid, and then others join in, it’s not because we’re trolls, but because it’s stupid. Yet that possibility never seems to occur to the butthurt.

              There are often times when people disagree with Scott and we all get into a big fight about it. Sometimes Scott changes his mind. Most of the time not, But there are legit issues raised in contrast to whatever Scott writes. This just wasn’t one of those times.

              As for the rest of us, we don’t care whether you comment or not, whether you agree that you were right or wrong, even whether you consider any possibility that it was you, not Scott, who missed the point.

              We do, however, care about how whiny bitches like you reduce the value of blogs like this for the rest of us. Nobody gives a shit about you, Brandon. We may care about what you have to say, but not you. You might be the center of your universe, but here, you don’t exist.

            8. Brandon

              For someone who doesn’t care about me, or would rather for concise communication, you sure use a lot of explicatives and take up time from your day to address me using the same language that 3 others already used. You could just ignore me. I effectively have the anonymity of the internet, I don’t need all of you to chime in and repost exactly what SHG says to me. The choir of repetitive voices does not make your arguments anymore effective. If anyone of you had acknowledge the non-sequitor and told me why my point wasn’t germane(or stupid as you like to say) to the conversation that would’ve been far more enlightening. I actually understood Scott just fine- none of you, not even your comment has actually added any value to the conversation.

              But by the admission of your own words the only actual purpose adding your voice to the chorus serves is to maintain the sanctity of your altar. I wouldn’t comment on a post that talked about legal arguments. Seeing as this post was more of an opinion piece regarding a movement, I must have mistakenly believed it was safe to comment.

              The idea expressed that criminal defense lawyers have a monopoly on logic and critical thinking is perhaps the wrong way to approach any discussion. SHG says he did not link Kendi’s ideas to the promotion of violence, that is his defense of the non-sequitor. But that isn’t the only comment that I made- and it isn’t the only false premise I attempted to refute. His words, “But they’re racists in the minds of frustrated marchers and Ibram Kendi, so they deserve whatever happens to them”, lead me to believe that this defense is weak, and that he is actually trying to make a comparison between the marchers and Kendi’s idea of racism and anti-racism. It does not follow that Kendi’s distinction of there being either racist or anti-racist, means that Kendi believes racists deserve whatever happens to them. There is not enough evidence presented to make this comparison- and if as I suggested, the evidence actually leads us to believe that Kendi’s words do not promote this behavior, or approve of this interpretation of anti-racism, there is no reason to make this comparison.

              Just tell me why my comment is stupid, why I am the one that lacks reading comprehension; if you see so well why Scott is correct in referring to me as an ignorant kid and he doesn’t have to explain his words to every dolt, just explain it for him- add something to the conversation or just ignore me because I don’t deserve the time of day, and you’re not a troll.

            9. Brandon

              Sorry Scott; I am not succinct. I’m overly verbose, repetitive, and redundant. I am not skilled in brevity.

        2. Sgt. Schultz

          Without knowing you, no one would know your age except as a reflection of the childishness of your comment. That’s why I assume you’re 12 and using mommy’s computer.

    2. Brandon

      I didn’t ask you to explain your words- you quite literally linked Dr.Kendi’s tweet to a violent phrase, and assumed his worldview is delusional when you know nothing of his world view. Rather than admit ignorance to his view or positions, you claim that “he promotes the notion that people who are in their homes rather than marching are racists by dint of not being antiracists”. That’s not what he said either, so you very clearly are taking his words and putting your own bias and notions on them. I was attempting to direct your critical mind to consider that’s not what Kendi stands for or meant. This is the internet, it’s your blog, you can be as cruel as you like with your tone and words. I am not interested in your belittling and inflamatory comments, but I suggest reading some of Kendi’s works to better inform yourself, and understand that you have misunderstood and mischaracterized his position. Considering the length of his body of works, it is not something one can simply sum up in a conversation such as this, but I am confident in saying that Dr.Kendi would not promote threatening and attacking people just for being racist- he does not believe that is a tactic or quality of anti-racism.

      1. SHG Post author

        What is it with the compulsion to murder so many words to say nothing? And don’t assume I didn’t read How to be an antiracist.

      2. Skink

        Stop. You wandered into a place occupied by lawyers and judges–people trained in and exercising logical thought and argument. Then you take a bunch of feathers, press them into a ball and assume it will fly. You have been exposed, from your first writing, as a dope. The best you can do here is soak in your dopiness. Enjoy it. Believe in it. But don’t expect us to believe in it.

        We know you’re a dope. That’s the end of you.

    3. Rengit

      He thinks there should be a federal agency that can unilaterally, and without any checks and balances, override all other agencies and branches of government both at the state and federal level, and regulate every facet of American political, social, and economic life, in the name of “anti-racism”. How do you think it would enforce this without action that doesn’t strongly resemble “bullying”?

      I know, you’ll just say he was being “provocative”, he doesn’t really believe that, but why should I then take anything he says seriously?

      1. SHG Post author

        I would expect the enforcement arm of Kendi’s Department of Antiracism to be a bit more official and prejudicial than mere bullying. But see how easy it is to dive down the rabbit hole when someone goes orthogonal on an irrelevant tangent? That’s why I usually trash such comments. Resist.

  2. Curtis

    We no longer have national symbols or heroes and everything can be used to divide us. The flag is right wing. The anthem is rife with political landmines. Our founding fathers are racist, misogynists. The Statue of Liberty promotes debates about immigration. Apple pie is a symbol of obesity.

    The extremists have succeeded in dividing us beyond their wildest dreams.

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