Jonathan Kraut | On Allegiance and Variations of the Stars and Stripes

Jonathan Kraut

Conservatives and Republicans, which may or may not represent the same crowd, seem to have adopted their own flag around which to rally and proclaim allegiance.

The Thin Blue Line flag is a modification of Old Glory. You have probably seen this flag in your neighborhood waving proudly on homes for several months.

If you are wondering if there are becoming two flags representing people of the United States, you might be right. 

The Thin Blue Line flag depicts a blue line instead of white line just below the field of blue. Above and below this blue stripe are often depicted black stripes replacing the traditional lines of red. There are even versions where all the red stripes are replaced with black except the blue stripe just below the field of blue. 

This flag started out as an artistic adaptation for sale by the Thin Blue Line organization. This nonprofit rightfully promotes appreciation for the members of law enforcement and uses sales from this flag to fundraise.

If you are wondering if this flag is “legal,” the answer is yes. 

The “thin blue line” is a concept popularized in the 1950s by L.A. Police Department Chief Bill Parker that recognizes the value of law enforcement. The concept was formalized in 1988 by Errol Morris’s documentary “The Thin Blue Line.”

The thin blue line notion promotes the appreciation for and recognition that a small band of law enforcement professionals, i.e. the thin blue line, protects greater society from crime and disorder. 

But this flag lately has morphed into representing, for many, the support for heavy-handed police suppression and for countering “evil, anarchy and chaos,” specifically from the left. 

This flag no longer seems to represent appreciation for our police professionals. 

There are many safeguards in the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing our rights. 

The Second Amendment permits possession of firearms as part of a “well-regulated militia” that at the time of passage was interpreted as permitted when part of an official organization managed by the states. The First Amendment specifies free speech, free assembly, a free press, and right to protest as individual rights. Unlike the Second Amendment, these rights are not related to a sanctioned state militia. 

The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting … the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance.”

Just like the right to bear arms as part of a well-regulated militia has devolved into everyone has a right to carry a gun, the right to peacefully protest is being falsely compared to promoting anarchy and criminal acts.

My worry is that Thin Blue Line flags are becoming the modern equivalent to the Stars and Bars of the confederate south — a symbol of repression. 

Funny how suppressing the right to protest and the freedom of assembly are being trounced by those who claim to be law-and-order proponents.

Sure, police need to go after criminal gangs, thugs, and arsonists who loot and destroy, with full commitment and resolve. But law enforcement, paid by us, the people, should guarantee all the right to peacefully protest as well. 

But let’s not brand peaceful protesters as anarchists, the liber-left, and communists.

“Law” means acting as rights and rules permit.

“Order” means with respect for others and conduct in a thoughtful manner. 

While many state the Thin Blue Line flag signifies favoring law and order, how is it at the same time these folks condone aggressive suppression of our rights and the cessation of the very orderly, legal, and peaceful activities the Constitution promises to all?

Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the COO of an acting conservatory, a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations. 

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