Day 24,549: Being Called Out
It was the July 4th weekend — a weekend when flags have always come out across America to celebrate American Independence. I should have anticipated all the Trump flags coming out as well, but I didn’t. As a marketing person, I am acutely aware of the new addition of flags for brazen campaign shows, and the fact that local Trump supporters feel increasingly emboldened to demonstrate their support in a big flag-flying way. We’ve gone from t-shirts, yard signs, and buttons to show campaign support into a new flag-flying stage that feels very upsetting.
We were just getting to the point where people realized the hurt in Confederate flags, and rather than fully retiring them, they are being replaced with Trump flags. Some will argue they are two entirely different things, but you know for many they are code for more than just Trump’s campaign.
Today, those blue flags were flown in a boat parade on the back bay of my town at the Jersey shore. It was disturbing for many reasons, not the least of which was that just the day before a Black Lives Matter walking street protest in Atlantic City was ended by local police with seven arrests for disrupting traffic on a bridge. No one was arrested for disrupting anything on the water today one town up from Atlantic City with expensive watercraft making it very much a privileged protest.
And, because timing is everything, my younger daughter alerted me to the Trump Water Parade just as I was sitting quietly reading a disturbing paragraph about Rabbi Lynnda Targan visiting Auschwitz in her memoir “Funny You Don’t Look Like A Rabbi.” The chapter starts with a quote from Elie Wiesel:
To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all
My daughter then went into our garage and found an old protest poster she felt appropriate for this event: “Pro-American, Anti-Trump.” The back said something about resistance in the face of injustice is patriotism. She then went walking down the beach to stand alone and hold her sign to the water and she remained there until the last boat left.
My older daughter quickly followed to stand by her, and I came soon after to make sure they had their phones. I was on safety patrol.
The gauntlet had been passed. Usually I was the one out there protesting and they would come along to support me. Now, the tide had turned, and I was there supporting them. I was proud of them, but not proud of where we are as a nation during this year’s holiday.
I’m also not happy with myself. With Coronavirus I have been staying put to protect the household. But with reading Targan’s book, I was again called out and know that just staying in and staying silent is not what will protect my world. I can stay in and not stay silent. I can do something more than I currently am doing.
Today, it was the simple act of signing on to a new e-mail list. Tomorrow, it will have to be something more. I don’t think it will be to buy a flag of my own. Instead, we’ll keep the American flag flying off our deck. It represents everything we need to say without annotation or explanatory flags to go with it. And we’ll continue to fly it long after this July 4th weekend.