Sunday, May 3, 2015

Flag Propaganda 5: Miami, Florida, and old Glory

how we saluted the flag In American classrooms
 during the pledge of allegiance prior to December 1942
image from wikipedia[

Salute to the U.S. flag devised by pledge of allegiance
author Francis Bellamy, known as the Bellamy salute

This series on flag propaganda by the radical right details specific examples of how lies and manipulation of information is being used to polarize this country, and how it acts to create a vulnerable and gullible group of well meaning conservatives susceptible to ginned up wedge issues to turn out the vote.

We had another one of these many and continuing stories this past week or so, all over the right wing propaganda machine, pandering to conservative prejudice and ignorance.

The latest pseudo-scandal in the ongoing misinformation campaign about our flag by conservatives comes from Florida, specifically the Miami PD where this propaganda is being combined with conservative fascism to attack both freedom of religion, feminism and immigrants -- the ultimate in Us vs Them politics -- by targeting a black Muslim woman who is an assistant chief of police in a deep southern state as the most recent example of flag propaganda.

From the
Miami PD Supports Muslim Assistant Police Chief Who Was Criticized For Not Pledging To Flag

A muslim Assistant Police Chief was within her rights to not salute the American flag during a police ceremony

The Miami Police Department said Assistant Chief Of Police Anita Najiy followed proper code when deciding not to salute the American flag while in uniform during a recent promotional ceremony. According to the Miami Herald, Maj. Delrish Moss said,

“the military code of conduct supersedes police code and that Najiy properly followed that code. While the department’s code of conduct allows for a reprimand if an officer doesn’t salute the flag, it makes no mention of covering the heart during the pledge.”

Najiy was harshly criticized by the Miami Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. Javier Ortiz, who publicized the incident insisted that Najiy, who did stand at attention during the ceremony, did not place her hand on her heart because she is a Muslim.

Najiy, a 31-year veteran of the agency and devout Muslimah, made history in Miami last year as an African-American and as a female by being appointed Assistant Chief of Police. It was the first time in the history of the Miami Police Department that a female member was appointed to Assistant Chief of Police. During the ceremony last year, Chief Manuel Orosa said, “I am privileged to select Commander Najiy as one of my assistant chiefs. Our 116-year city has witnessed many milestones, but this, by far, is one of the greatest of our history.”

In response to Ortiz statements, The Miami Police Benevolent Association released a statement on Wednesday criticizing Ortiz’s obsession with tearing down Naijay, saying Ortiz was being hypocritical, considering he himself did not salute the flag because he was busy taping Najiy. The Association said,

“Racism cloaked in patriotism is a huge insult to the American flag, the city of Miami Police Department and the countless hate and anti-Muslim filled rants generated by the recent antics of the FOP president; those two things seem to be the genesis of the current false controversy.”

So, NO, this woman did not fail to put her hand over her heart because she is a Muslim (gasp! <sarcasm>) who hates America, as conservatives want people to believe. She did it because that was the correct protocol, the correct FORM of respect for her to follow. There was no anti-American sentiment, no disloyalty or disrespect involved whatsoever. But THAT is not the factual version circulated by flag propagandists like Fox News and Breitbart seeking to factually alter the real 'narrative', as noted by Freethoughtblogs,com:
Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, wants Assistant Chief Anita Najiy removed from her position as honor guard commander. He sent a letter Monday to Chief Rodolfo Llanes seeking a reprimand.

Ortiz claims that Najiy’s failure to salute the flag “to make a political statement” during Friday’s ceremony at the Miami Police College is a violation of the police oath. He calls her actions “unprofessional and disgraceful.”

“She is actively refusing to show allegiance to the United States of America, which is part of our oath as law enforcement officers,” Ortiz told Local 10 News. “This has been going on for several months.”…

“By not publicly showing her allegiance to our nation with the rest of the Miami Police Department, she is violating our oath,” Ortiz wrote.

Ortiz also questions Najiy’s allegiance to the country.

“If she isn’t loyal to the United States of America, what country is she loyal and allegiant to?” Ortiz wrote.

“What makes you think she does not have allegiance just because of a physical actions?” asked Local 10’s Glenna Milberg.

“Because she is denouncing the United States in full police uniform and she is making a political statement by wearing that uniform,” Ortiz said.

“But is that what she’s doing or that’s your take on what she’s doing?” Milberg asked.

“Well, what else is she doing? She’s not pledging allegiance to the flag,” Ortiz said.

That was a deliberate LIE circulated by conservatives for a reason - several reasons: to create fear, to gin up hatred towards Muslims, to undermine women in positions of authority, to create a false impression of victimization of conservatives under the cover of pretend patriotism, with a generous garnish of racism and anti-feminism. The apparently conservative tea bagger Ortiz is appearing to be just a cheap media whore in his ongoing demands for Najiy to be disciplined.

On a fundamental level, it is about how people intentionally peddle hate and ignorance and fear. On a fundamental level it is about the dumbing down of America.

On a fundamental level it is about factual versus fictional history, and it is about marginalizing and isolating people in dangerous and evil ways that are profoundly in conflict with our national motto - e pluribus unum, and our history as a tolerant and accepting melting pot of many people forming one nation that is stronger because of those combined cultural influences and ethic heritage.

It is informative as part of a larger understanding of our current politics in the context of factual history, factual current events, and understanding the defining characteristics of conservative fascism which include hyper patriotism, reconstituted factually inaccurate notions of previous 'golden ages' of history, and intolerant authoritarianism.

In this regard the pledge of allegiance in our history and how we have saluted - or not saluted - our national symbol, our flag, is particularly apt. At right is a photo of the Bellamy salute, a salute invented by the author of the pledge of allegiance. This Hitler and Mussolini style salute was changed, precisely BECAUSE it was too fascist.

from Wikipedia:
The Bellamy salute is the salute described by Francis Bellamy, Christian socialist minister and author, to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he had authored. During the period when it was used with the Pledge of Allegiance, it was sometimes known as the "flag salute". Later, during the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted a salute which had the same form, and which was derived from the Roman salute. This resulted in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States. It was officially replaced by the hand-over-heart salute when Congress amended the Flag Code on December 22, 1942.
The inventor of the gesture was James B. Upham, junior partner and editor of The Youth's Companion.[1] Bellamy recalled Upham, upon reading the pledge, came into the posture of the salute, snapped his heels together, and said "Now up there is the flag; I come to salute; as I say 'I pledge allegiance to my flag,' I stretch out my right hand and keep it raised while I say the stirring words that follow."

The Bellamy salute was first demonstrated on October 12, 1892 according to Bellamy's published instructions for the "National School Celebration of Columbus Day":
At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute -- right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” At the words, “to my Flag,” the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.

— From The Youth’s Companion, 65 (1892): 446–447.
 But what is especially significant about the fuss over saluting the flag and the pledge of allegiance, and all things surrounding the flag and assertions of patriotism (or disloyalty to the nation). There is in fact a long history of flag propaganda and attempts to smear individuals using the flag and the pledge of allegiance (continuing from the wikipedia entry linked above), which should of itself instruct us that the flag has a long history of being hijacked for propaganda purposes. Those who do not learn these lessons from history are doomed to repeat them, or worse, to be victimized by them:
The similarity to the Bellamy salute led to confusion, especially during World War II. From 1939 until the attack on Pearl Harbor, detractors of Americans who argued against intervention in World War II produced propaganda using the salute to lessen those Americans' reputations. Among the anti-interventionist Americans was aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh. Supporters of Lindbergh's views would claim that Lindbergh did not support Adolf Hitler, and that pictures of him appearing to do the Nazi salute were actually pictures of him using the Bellamy salute. In his Pulitzer prize winning biography Lindbergh, author A. Scott Berg explains that interventionist propagandists would photograph Lindbergh and other isolationists using this salute from an angle that left out the American flag, so it would be indistinguishable from the Hitler salute to observers.
In order to prevent further confusion or controversy, the United States Congress instituted the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute to be rendered by civilians during the Pledge of Allegiance in the United States, instead of the Bellamy salute.[2] This was done when Congress amended the Flag Code on December 22, 1942.

There was initially some resistance to dropping the Bellamy salute, for example from the Daughters of the American Revolution,[5] but this opposition died down quickly following Nazi Germany's declaration of war against the United States on December 11, 1941.

We should ALL be concerned about the attempts to coerce conformity of conduct at the expense of diversity and individual, personal exercise of conscience that are the hallmark of conservative intolerance, as a justification for bigotry and prejudice. The reality is that we have a wide range of people who do not state the pledge of allegiance (in part because of the inclusion mandated by conservative theocrats of the phrase 'under God' which was not original to the pledge) and who also do not swear to tell the truth in courts either. It is not uncommon for this to be a reflection of individual conscience or of religion; for example, the very influential Quaker community which was so influential to our nation's founding, including figures like Benjamin Franklin, did not swear such an oath in court. Instead for centuries there has been a legal alternative of 'affirmation' which is perfectly equivalent for the law and our courts.

Our SCOTUS has ruled on the issue of pledging allegiance, which should always be voluntary and personal and NEVER EVER a purity or loyalty test of conformity. For those who serve in positions of authority or other official capacity, there are often OTHER oaths that serve that function, including the oath sworn by all those who serve in elected office such as Congress or the executive branch, those who serve in the military, and in this particular instance for those who serve in law enforcement. It is redundant and unnecessary and improper to apply the pledge of allegiance in that manner - OR as propaganda to sear decent and loyal Americans with the intent to deceive people -- CONSERVATIVE PEOPLE.

from the Constitution online:
In its 1940 Gobitis decision (310 US 586), the Supreme Court ruled that schools can compel students to recite the Pledge. The U.S. Congress recognized the Pledge officially in 1942, and in 1954 added the phrase "under God" to the text. In 1943, the Supreme Court overturned Gobitis and ruled in its Barnette decision (319 US 624) that school children could not be forced to recite the Pledge as a part of their school day routine.
 We need to be pushing back against both conservative hyper-patriotism, a key component of fascism, and against right wing bigotry and ignorance of our REAL history. Conservatives throw around the word freedom and the word liberty too often; but their actions are consistently the opposite, restricting freedom of action and liberty of conscience. From last year - no surprise, once again it was FLORIDA, where conservatives ride roughshod over our constitution and history:
Pledge of Allegiance freaks defy SCOTUS: Maniacs force others to recite it in public meetings
Supreme Court ruled that you can't be coerced to partake in the pledge. These so-called patriots don't really care
So while it may offer sectarian prayer in its invocation the government cannot discriminate against minority faiths and cannot coerce participation. (It’s hard to see how they could do any less and remain faithful to the Constitution.) But that ruling doesn’t seem to have filtered down to the township level. Just last week, the mayor of Winter Garden, Florida, ordered the police to remove a man from a town meeting for failing to stand for the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance. Here’s the video of the event:

Conservatives -- they love their authoritarian purity rituals; actual freedom and their fellow Americans....not so much.

No comments:

Post a Comment