“I just walked into the library at school to finish up my paper and low and behold see the most f—-d up excuse for a gay rights movement in my life. I don’t care what you want stuck where and by who but don’t disgrace the United States colors with your bulls–t. I am beyond tempted to burn this in its place.”
This was the caption placed on the picture in a Facebook post by a close friend of mine earlier this week. I could not believe what I was reading. Here was a friend I had known my entire life, a good student, a proud member of the U.S. Army, someone I respected, who, for all his merits, actually believed this well-meaning symbol was an outrage.
Then, as if this outburst was not disappointing enough, I scrolled down to read comment after comment from people I had believed to be accepting and thoughtful, condemning this flag for its insensitivity to the American way. Several of the responders requested pictures of the flag burning, made empty threats to drive down and do it themselves, and even reproached the library for allowing it to be displayed. The post received 70 likes in a single day.
One concerned citizen asserted: “I don’t care if you are homosexual, but don’t disrespect the flag. There’s a lot of brave men who died for that flag.” This comment was liked both by the friend who made the post and another former friend now in the Air Force. This statement was sickening. For anyone to believe, in the modern world, that the American flag upholds an ideal that condemns any American citizen based on their beliefs or sexual orientation is sad enough. For the young men and women dedicating their lives to this country not to realize the basic ideas of acceptance and tolerance at the foundation of its beliefs is truly disheartening.
Another comment read, “I don’t care if what they believe is right or wrong but to abuse the flag for their own personal gain is appalling.” Maybe I am missing something here, but I really cannot figure out a way in which displaying a flag as a symbol of equality is for anyone’s own personal gain. This was not some scheme to get money or sway people’s opinion. Simply put, it was a statement of acceptance and, clearly, one that was desperately needed.
“There’s a special place in hell for people that deface the American flag like this and for this cause at that,” said a final commentator. This responder’s assertion that this cause is more insulting to the American identity than other forms of abusing the flag reflects a basic misunderstanding of the modern cultural landscape. It strikes me as funny that the use of the American flag to promote equality stirs up more outrage than depictions of the flag on bikinis and beer cans. Maybe Americans need to reevaluate the image we are creating for our nation’s most important symbols, unless we find it more fitting to be identified as drunk than open-minded.
It is 2013. America has its first African American president who ran on a platform promising change. The senate and the cabinet are liberal, and more and more same-sex couples are being seen in advertising and media. Laws and people are changing every day, and we are becoming a more accepting society as a whole.
Grow up. Move on. Half of these comments stated that they did not care about someone’s sexual orientation, but clearly it bothered them enough to express their outrage. If concepts of acceptance and freedom of choice are not fitting symbols of the American culture, then the American culture is long overdue for a change.