My Flag Is Burning

flag copy

My grandfather worked with his hands. His two hands carried a rifle through the Pacific during World War II. His two hands could tear down the engine of an American-made car and rebuild it from memory. His two hands, when he worked as a plasterer at the White House, were worn entirely clean of prints. A man with no fingerprints, he barely passed a security clearance to keep plastering the walls of the most powerful home in the land. He passed, in the end, because he was a hardworking man of integrity and merit.

Speaking of hands, of integrity and merit, of the seat of American power, we turn now to the future occupant of the White House. What has The Orange One done with his hands? One thing he’s done with his hands, as he told Billy Bush, constitutes rape. Another thing he’s done with his hands is make a circle with the thumb and forefinger to emphasize one racist or misogynist point after another. Most frightening of all about what he’ll do with his hands is, he’ll place one on a Bible next month and swear the oath of service to our country.

I call it Black Friday. Among the dark things coming to pass on Black Friday is a grave threat to our freedoms. Let’s take freedom of expression.

My grandfather, a veteran and a patriot, did not like the 50-star flag. When he fought in the Pacific it was under a banner of 48 stars. That is the flag he preferred. My grandfather never used his hands to set an American Flag on fire, but I’ll bet he’d sooner see one burn than lie buried beneath it.

The Orange One, who’s done the most shameful things with his hands, suggested this week that a man like my grandfather should lose his citizenship and be jailed for a year for publicly displaying his distaste for our flag. Meanwhile, The Orange One is free to stick his fingers in any damn pie he likes, to brag about rape and repression and his reprehensible views on race and not be jailed or deported for expressing those despicable things.

And so… I am to the point—
having crowded beneath my desk for hours while terrorist gunfire breached the chancery where I served—
having lost five friends 12 years ago because they’d dedicated themselves to working for America—
having survived a raid in which our flag was lowered and burned as a message of hate and repression against myself and my country and the freedoms we represent to the world…

…having experienced these things in service to my country I had come nearly to the point of burning the damn flag myself. I would burn a 13, 48, or 50 star flag just to prove to The Orange One that he is now the servant of the people and not our master.

But that would be wrong. That would misdirect my anger. I still love my country and I continue to serve it.

Instead my fiery protest will be, with my own two hands, to torch the ineviteable copy of Time, Man of the Year. For on its cover will surely be The Orange One.

*NOTE: It’s not too late for The Orange One to serve with dignity and pride, to represent the best of American ideals, to serve like a man who knows how to put his hands to good use: to use his hands to salute the flag rather than strangle and repress those who stand beside him underneath its glory.