Interesting article today in The New Yorker:
I’ve been noticing the same correlation between American flags (many of which are similarly “modified” as described in the article) and yard signs supporting Trump’s re-election. The Trump campaign has also been quite aggressive with flags and banners. Biden’s campaign seems to be catching up in that area, but overall I’ve never seen so many flags flying in my town.
I fly a U.S. flag nearly every day. I take it down at night and when it rains, because I was a Boy Scout forty years ago and I learned the U.S. Flag Code. Despite my shifting political views over the years, that training has stayed with me. It still irritates me when I see torn, ragged flags flying.
The “code” is part of compiled U.S. law that describes what the flag looks like and how it should be displayed. There aren’t really any enforceable penalties for not following the flag code; if there were, lots of citizens would be subject to fines or arrest for their unlit, wet, ragged, or defaced flags (including the single blue stripe variations) or for wearing versions of the flag or using it in advertising. The flag is a symbol, and that symbol can represent political thought, and therefore is protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court affirmed in 1989 that burning an American flag is protected speech (though it would be interesting to see what a Court with Amy Coney Barrett might rule if they had a chance to revisit that decision). Incidentally, the proper way to dispose of a worn U.S. flag is… by burning it.
While I fly a flag at my home, I do so because I’m an American citizen, not because I’m a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. The flag belongs to all Americans, not just one party.
I live in the middle of a neighborhood block. Five other houses around mine also fly American flags, so we have quite a collection as people drive down our street. None of us have any political yard signs or other indications of how we might be voting this year. One of my neighbors was chatting with me the other day, though, and it was obvious he thought I was a Trump supporter. Finally, I let him know that wasn’t the case, but I had to ask him why he’d made that assumption. “You put the flag out every day,” he said, “and you bring it in at night. I figured you liked Trump.” (I also fly a Canadian flag – no idea what he thinks that means.)
It was a pleasant conversation. He’s not likely to show up at any of Trump’s rallies, though he’s clearly voting for him. But the implication that my display of our American flag means I’m a Trump supporter was disappointing, though, in our current state of divisiveness, not terribly surprising.