A couple of military guys acting on their own authority break their oath of enlistment, intimidate civilians, seize property, curse those who question them, desecrate the flag, trample the Constitution, violate half of the Ten Commandments . . . and Fox Nation upholds them as heroes.
Folks, this is a huge part of what’s wrong with our country.
Fox Nation billed the story like this: “Hippie Disrespects American flag in front of Marine . . . Big Mistake!”
The first line of the description reads, “A Marine and Soldier take back the American flag from protesters for disrespecting it for holding it upside down.”
You don’t have to be supporters of the alleged “hippie” to acknowledge there are three major areas of problem with this story. 1) The act itself, 2) Fox’s spin, and 3) the reactions of some commenters.
Let’s consider the act itself. Folks, whatever emotional reaction you may have, this act is not just or right. It is violence and theft. It is wrong in every way possible.
First, it is hypocritical and ignorant on the part of these military men. It defies everything for which they swore an oath: to support and defend the Constitution. The Constitution says nothing about a flag. It says something very prominently about free speech. It also says quite a bit about the Supreme Court and legal system which have upheld the right to display the flag, even burn it, especially in acts of protest. Like it or not, the Constitution upholds the upside-down display of the flag, and anyone—especially anyone who swears an oath to uphold that Constitution—must respect that.
In fact, anyone who swears that oath and then acts contrary to it ought to be held accountable for breaking their oath.
Instead, we have a hot-head Marine seizing property and spouting, “I don’t give a s**t what the symbol is!” This is the attitude of someone who has no respect for law, right, or authority.
Secondly, even if displaying the flag upside-down were against the law, these military men are not law enforcement. It is not their job to take matters into their own hands. They are at best mere witnesses to the crime—if indeed it were a crime. Unless it were a forcible felony, they have no right to intervene, and could indeed be held liable for any crimes of their own if they do.
Further, the military force is separated from local law enforcement for a reason. Military men must act in official violence only in time of war and when under order to do so. This Marine had no orders to do so, was not in a time of war or other official military action, and is probably either “off duty” or no longer even enlisted.
This is supposed to be a nation of laws and not of men. These men violated this principle. They had nothing on their side but their own misguided passions about the flag. This is not the rule of law in action. This is the opposite: this is Vigilantism.
The Marine shouted, “We serve our country.” Not in this act you didn’t. You violated your oath. You violated principles of both military and civil jurisdictions. You’re not a hero. You’re an example of everything that’s wrong in this nation: people who think they are entitled to act outside the law based on their own feelings. These things are not serving the country. They are disgracing it.
Next, consider just how ridiculous Fox News is when it spins the story as a “Hippie” being set right by a Marine. Everything in this story is either made up or backwards from the truth.
Fox says the protester was “disrespecting” the flag. Technically he was not, according to the Supreme Court and even many other conservatives (more on that in a second). Instead, as we just said, it was the Marine and soldier who were disrespecting the flag: because they violated every rule of law for which it supposedly stands (not to mention that in their aggression, they knocked it to the ground—oops!—and then wadded it up like a dirty shirt instead of folding it properly).
Second, Fox called the protester a “Hippie.” This is not clear in the video. As such, this is dishonest reporting. The protests in question occurred on March 30, 2014, when hundreds if not thousands of citizens marched on the Albuquerque Police Department in protest of yet another APD shooting of an apparently defenseless and helpless citizen. KRQE Local News reported,
Protesters angry over the recent shooting, and other APD shootings in recent years, gathered at Central and First Street around noon Sunday and marched toward APD headquarters shouting, “We want justice,” and other chants.
Considering the issue and the numbers that turned out, I suspect there was some mixture of ideologies in the crowd. Perhaps a majority were civil-rights type liberals, perhaps some “Occupy” types, perhaps some Libertarians, perhaps some conservatives and tea party types. It looks like the driver of the scooter has long hair, but whether that necessitates one is a “Hippie” or not I don’t know.
But “Hippie” sure does fit a classic “bad guy” for a Fox News narrative, doesn’t it? But they really don’t know, and didn’t bother trying to find out. I didn’t see any attempt at interviewing the protesters. Not knowing, to report one way or the other is to publish bias and dishonesty, not facts.
Worse, this type of reporting exemplifies a trend in the rapidly declining quality of conservative reporting—a trend which a friend of mine (who is engaged in the very practice) recently labeled “rage porn.” These types of stories are not meant to relate truth or facts. They are designed to get their targeted audiences—who often neglect or lack critical thinking skills—to click-click-click, share-share-share, and drive ad revenue.
The truth is, this protestor could very well have been an upstanding tea party member. As some of the commenters on Fox’s page and the YouTube post have noted, it is well documented that many conservative tea party protestors in different locations have displayed upside-down flags in “dire distress” of the current administration’s and Congress’s policies. One good story on this phenomenon is here, where a military vet himself displayed the flag upside-down in protest after Obama’s reelection.
Whether you support it or not, many conservatives did.
Where were the hot-head Marines storming this farm house, or the many tea party rallies where this has occurred? Do only conservatives have such free speech rights?
And where was Fox News when these conservatives did this? And where was their “balance” in reminding us of this when posting this latest story?
Finally, consider the reactions from readers. They seem to be roughly evenly divided between some of the thoughtless “hooah!” “‘murca!” types and those who understand the real issues at hand. On the one hand, it is good that a rough half of readers respond with sensible Constitutional awareness.
On the other hand, it is frightening than roughly the other half react like mindless drones, driven by misguided nationalistic emotions that trample the true principles of liberty and their own laws—i.e., like potential brownshirts.
That such a large representative number of conservatives openly support and act of vigilantism, oath-breaking, trampling of fundamental Constitutional rights, violence and theft, cursing in public, defying rule of law and institutional boundaries, all to support their personal passions for the red-white-and-blue, does not speak well for the future of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness in any country, and ours will be no exception.
Violence? Theft? Cursing? Defiance of authority? False witness? According to traditional interpretations, the actions of these military men violate more than half of the Ten Commandments.
Ask yourself, conservative Christian: how many more of God’s Commandments are you willing to trample to express your misguided, uninformed, and emotional nationalism?
(For those of you who will assume differently: I don’t think flag-burnings or upside-down flags are necessarily helpful in many circumstances, and would not in the vast majority of normal circumstances ever engage in it myself, or support those who do. I have nuanced thoughts on the matter, however, and may publish them some day when fully developed.)