Reflections on Flags

Flag etiquette is a touchy subject in this country. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that burning the American Flag is a protected form of speech under the First Amendment. Still, we hear calls from elected politicians that displaying the Confederate Flag is not protected speech.

The beginning of the Confederate War was never about slavery, it was about the massive tax burden being imposed by the North against southern businessmen. The slavery issue arose two years into the Civil War and at that point the Stars and Bars and slavery were forever linked.

But the original flag, the one that George Washington commissioned, was never about slavery, either. It was about this country’s brash argument that it wanted to be free from foreign rule and oppressive taxes. Yes, George Washington owned slaves. So did many others of the country’s founders. So did the Cherokee Indians, for that matter.

So how is the American Flag any less a symbol of slavery than the Confederate Flag? The two flags are just red, white and blue pieces of cloth stitched together. And now professional rabble rousers are insisting that anything Red, White and Blue be torn down and assigned to the dustbins of history.

The two flags represent culture. There are good and bad things in every culture. But believing that Americans are too stupid to make up their own minds about important cultural issues is Political Correctness run amok.

Flee from political correctness, that apple barrel of hypocrisy and prevarication which is sitting and fermenting and waiting to poison the discussion and the common sense that most Americans have.

Now, we have a very real situation taking place in a Southern Colorado neighborhood. A Hispanic man hung a flag upside down as a show of disrespect because of the racism he feels in his community.┬áHe says he feels harassed by the HOA’s management company.

Whew! Don’t we all?

There’s a craziness afoot in American neighborhoods. There’s an intolerance that’s as insidious as a cluster of cancer cells. Let’s get rid of it. Leave the flags alone. Leave our First Amendment alone. If someone has the bad taste to display a flag improperly, just walk away and let him be. What a nice place this would be if we just gave each other some space. Forgive, forget, and get on with life.

(link to El Paso County flag story)


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

5 thoughts on “Reflections on Flags

  1. Leo Horishny

    Have to disagree with you there Ward, slavery was an integral part of why states seceded from the United States originally. Putting that aside however, the bigger point about flying the Southern Cross flag on the grounds of the capitol of South Carolina is just that, it is flying on a US government property. Now, if someone wants to paint their car with the flag, tattoo their neck with it, fly it 24/7/365 on their own property, or even, enshrine it in their HOA CCRs, that’s one thing. The flag flying on on the grounds of the SC state capitol is what got this particular issue scrutinized, and the fact that that state legislature protected that specific symbol to the point that it could not even be lowered to half staff in respect to the murder of 9 black people is what instigated this discussion about the flag and what it does or does not represent.

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Hi Leo, thanks for your comment. Yes, slavery was an integral part of the Civil War, but most historians believe the cause of the war was far more complex. The tariff of 1828, for example, made it extremely difficult for the South to sell cotton to big consumers in Europe and shut off access by the South to inexpensive European goods. The Nullification Crisis of 1832 aggravated economic conditions for the South. The vast majority of southerners did not own slaves but the entire south was impacted not only by excessive tariffs but also the fact that they were losing electoral college votes. The main point of my post was that ordering removal of the Confederate Battle Flag is an incredibly slippery slope. Do we also tear down monuments to confederate generals, remove tens of thousands of street signs that commemorate confederate soldiers, blow up Stone Mountain, Georgia? Do we then dig up the graves of Confederate soldiers and remove them from Arlington, and tear down the Confederate Memorial there? Going further, do we shut down West Point because a certain graduate was General Robert E. Lee? Certainly, the tragedy in Charleston was horrendous, absolutely beyond imagination. And the state should certainly have taken steps to fly ALL flags at half staff. But political correctness is a cancer that never stops. It was political correctness that led Adolf Hitler and Joey Stalin into power. I’m all in favor of free and open discussion of all subjects no matter how touchy they are. But when we start banning symbols we can say goodbye to the First Amendment and possibly our free way of life.

      1. Deborah Goonan

        The problem is, when we start banning certain types of speech and free expression, it usually leads to an “all or nothing” approach. Either everyone gets to display any kind of flag — even a swasticka or a marijuana leaf — or nobody gets to display any kind of flag, including the American flag.

        Last fall in Orlando, the Orange County School District was more or less forced to allow distribution of Satanic books to children Why? Because the school district has previously allowed Christian groups to distribute bibles.

        So which situation is worse: all or nothing? Many organizations will choose NOTHING, because it seems like the easy way out of a touchy situation, and to avoid possible lawsuits! Lawyers eat this stuff for lunch!

        But I think Ward’s point is a valid one. When we ban certain types of free speech and expression, how can we prevent widespread censorship from taking root?
        Perhaps “all” is better than “nothing.”

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Hi Deborah. There is so much more coming. Half the streets across America are named after Confederate officers and war heroes. And keep in mind that there were heroes on both sides of the war. Half my ancestors fought for the North, the other half from the South. Which side of my 150 year old family tree should I pretend never existed? Ultimately we’re looking at ‘fundamental change’ in America. It’s straight out of Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. “Control the verbiage and you control the debate.” You don’t have to buy his book. It’s free at this web link:


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