1. brightmoon says

    Growing up Black and middle class, I was never afraid of a cop until this last 4 years . My neighborhood is reasonably peaceful yet I see police helicopters overhead all the time . It’s freaking me out ! This isn’t a high crime area

  2. wsierichs says

    Actually, for a lot of police departments, the real flag is the skull-and-crossbones pirate flag. The police in some places are basically organized crime gangs. In Ferguson, they were engaged in what amounted to extortion. In southwest La., the Jean Lafittes (not their real name) were cruising the interstates looking for cars they could steal and money they could loot under the obscene, blatantly-unconstitutional, asset forfeiture laws. (That was exposed by 60 Minutes; the show gets a lot of things wrong, but this time they nailed it).

  3. PaulBC says

    I was never into flag-waving, which smacks of militarism to me. But now the rightwingers don’t even wave normal flags. They have the blue stripe, a picture of Trump, a Trump slogan, a QAnon reference, etc. I’m not sure how this is supposed to be patriotic. It’s unclear what they’re “pledging allegiance” to. I’ll take a regular flag if it comes to that.

  4. John Morales says

    PaulBC, it’s a category thing.

    Those are flags physically, but ideologically they’re emblems.

    Held aloft much as standards are.

    Semiotic signals.

  5. PaulBC says

    John Morales@5 I get that they’re emblems. I still think it’s kind of a new thing to express your “patriotism” with grotesque customizations of an official symbol (this may be the Catholic in me coming out; I like standards). It’s true that the Gadsden flag (Snake: Don’t Tread on Me) has been a favorite with wingnuts since I can remember, and there’s the Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (which was never a “national” flag of the Confederacy). At least these have some history behind them.

    But now it’s like the wingnuts got infected with a hippie virus and they’re just getting all “creative” with their symbols. What does this mean exactly? Are they authoritarian or non-conformist? Can you be both? I know that they’re authoritarian, but they’re also just fucking nuts. There’s the guy with the face paint and buffalo horns. I am not really sure, maybe there’s a transitional period where everyone is crazy and then it settles down into uniform authoritarianism. Was it like this in pre-WWII Germany?

  6. whheydt says

    For the moment, at least, I’m going to assume that everyone here knows what the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is. You probably also know that the SCA does quite a bit of heraldry, trying to keep it it at least plausibly consist with the SCA’s time period.

    As such, SCA branches often fly banners with branch heraldry on them. During Gulf I, when there were a lot of US troops running around in Saudi Arabia, that included any number of SCA members. Several SCA kingdoms tried to claim Saudi Arabia as their territory because they had members there. “Boots on the ground”, so to speak. Also a fair number of SCA folk would fly their branch banners from humvees they were driving. This led to considerable confusion by people who couldn’t tell SCA heraldry from typical military heraldry.

    There are stories of people seeing a humvee go by and trying to figure out what military unit it was attached to because they couldn’t identify the banner it was flying…

  7. PaulBC says

    @7 Yeah, I knew a bunch of Scadians in college. Pulling that kind of stunt in a war zone sounds questionable, but not surprising either.

    But maybe that’s the thing. It’s not that I’ve never seen groups of fans/weirdos gathering. It’s that it’s a political movement now and not just Balticon attendees terrorizing the people who showed up for the Easter brunch.

    I guess I expect conservatives to be… conservative. I find today’s landscape increasingly illegible, and I find myself more inclined to act as staid and respectable as I can.

  8. John Morales says


    You quite sure it’s a novel thing in the USA?

    Was it like this in pre-WWII Germany?

    Depends on your level of abstraction.

    Different times then, different circumstances. So, directly, no.

    But I get it. If things are gonna go to pot as they did then, then what’s happening now seems the right path to it.
    Stirring the forces of authoritarian ultra-nationalism is always fraught.

  9. stroppy says

    I’m not getting a fun creative vibe off the flag thing. There’s a mean, in your face, hurray for Trump, burn it all down vibe. Apparently the flag idolators think the American flag isn’t un-American enough.

    Personally, I tend to consider pledging allegiance to the flag as the gateway drug leading from allegiance to the constitution to allegiance to blood and soil.

    (Anybody remember Ray Bream yelling, “Say The Pledge of Allegiance” at his guests whenever he painted himself into a corner?)

    Anyway, catch Rise of the Nazis on PBS. It was dog eat dog. Trump no doubt wishes he had storm troopers and whatever, but I think we’re more fragmented here.

    Surrender to flags

  10. says

    So that flag seems to denote a thin blue line separating the “upper” portion of the US flag — including the stars symbolizing the States — from the “lower” portion. Looks kinda classist, if you ask me…

  11. PaulBC says

    Raging Bee@12 Intentional or not, it is clear that supporters of “law enforcement” (as opposed to those of us who support enforcing laws–even against police if necessary!) do not believe in equal justice. They believe police are there to protect their lives and property from the rabble, just as police have done through most of history. So your interpretation is fitting.

  12. says

    Does anyone else get the sense that this group overlaps with people that normally don’t like flag desecration? I’ve been tempted to poke at that but I’m not opposed to flag desecration and and I have other priorities.

  13. square101 says

    @13 PaulBC

    Its actually really interesting in a very dark way looking at the reactions of some of the far right groups like the proud boys and other general “back the blue” types after they got so violent and unhinged it a couple cities like DC that some of them had to be arrested. They immediately started talking on their chat rooms and message boards about how this cop or that cop must have been antifa and some of them do a complete 180 on their support for police. They clearly look at this situation as transactional. They “back the blue” so therefore the blue should back them in their street brawls and fights against counter protesters (and to be honest the police largely do). But they don’t want just fewer consequences for their actions they want no consequences. Someone on twitter commented that a ton of the back the blue types only back the blue until they actually have to interact with cops, then they realize quickly how unpleasant that interaction often is.

  14. PaulBC says


    Someone on twitter commented that a ton of the back the blue types only back the blue until they actually have to interact with cops, then they realize quickly how unpleasant that interaction often is.

    My rare interactions with police have mostly been for minor traffic violations, and I can’t say that’s much fun, even though they have gone pretty smoothly. If they really think cops are just there to “back” them, then either they live very sheltered lives or else there are are lot of bad cops who are turning a blind eye to extremists (and perhaps both are true).

  15. says

    @#14, Brony, Social Justice Cenobite:

    Neither “issue” was ever anything more than a dogwhistle and theater. Republicans under George H. W. Bush, when “flag-burning” was a Big Deal, never really cared about the flag, it was just a stick to beat Democrats with. And the people now don’t really care about the country, or even the police — they hate everybody who isn’t white, and “Blue Lives Matter” is a dogwhistle for that.

    (It’s like abortion — right-wing opposition to abortion, with the exception of a very small group of people, has never really been an ethical issue, just a rallying point. Otherwise, abortion would have been outlawed around 2003 or so, when the Republicans had majorities in all branches of government.)

  16. says

    @The Vicar 18
    It’s older than that and I’m pretty sure my Dad doesn’t fake the feelings so it can be a dog whistle and it still feels strong to the people who use it to communicate.
    Whatever it is, hyper-ficusing on a symbol over lives is probably not a purely right-wing limited phenomena.

  17. stroppy says

    It has a lot to do with conformity and militarism. It’s pretty deep in American culture, but the sixties knocked some of the starch out of it. I would think that by now it looks pretty old fashioned, but I’ll leave younger people to speak to that.

  18. says

    In fact with words themselves as symbols, I would consider refusal to use preferred pronouns/misgendering as a form of caring about symbols more than people common on the left. Or refusal to acknowledge the impact of group slurs based on innate characteristics…