Sacramento, CA – A video taken by protesters is raising some serious questions after it captured police officers wearing a modified version of the American flag on their official gear.
The modified version of the flag being worn by officers entails one thin blue line, which police often contend represents the barrier between “anarchy and a civilized society, between order and chaos, or between respect for decency and lawlessness.” However, citizens increasingly perceive this as a symbolic line that represents the separation and differentiates police from the rest of society, representing a blue code of silence amongst the brotherhood of cops. All colors on the flag are blacked out, supposedly as a memorial to all of the fallen officers that lost their life in the line of duty.
And while this may seem admirable to some, in terms of being a memorial, it is also raising serious issues with flag purists. The problem with wearing this adulterated flag stems from an apparent violation of U.S. Flag Code, which states that:
“The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.”
While many may be patriotic in their love of the flag, the official usage of a modified flag on police officers’ uniforms is nothing less than an assault on the flag itself.
According to the website for the company selling the adulterated American Flag, Flags Unlimited:
Meaning of the Thin Blue Line Flag: The Blue represents the officer and the courage they find deep inside when faced with insurmountable odds. The Black background was designed as a constant reminder of our fallen brother and sister officers. The Line is what police officers protect, the barrier between anarchy and a civilized society, between order and chaos, between respect for decency and lawlessness. Together they symbolize the camaraderie law enforcement officers all share, a brotherhood like none other.
The issue here isn’t about good cops or bad cops. It is about wearing a disfigured U.S. flag on their official state sanctioned uniform. The state sanctioning of a modification of the American flag should raise eyebrows.
There is historical precedent for this type of action, as one need only look to Hitler’s co-opting of the swastika, a traditional symbol of good fortune for thousands of years.
As Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, the Nazis’ emblem needed to be both a “symbol of our own struggle” and “effective as a large poster,” which is similar to how the police are incorporating the use of a disfigured American flag on their uniforms.
While officers have a right to wear a blue stripe as a means of showing support for law enforcement, the intentional defacing of the U.S. flag to represent something other than the initial intent of the flag comes across as extremely unpatriotic and potentially dangerous – even if the intentions behind it are genuinely good.
Symbols have power and the co-opting of the American flag into a unique police symbol cannot be seen as a benign move, as there is evident historical precedent in the modification of already powerful symbols being used as a means of propagandizing the public.