Friday, July 24, 2015

Right Wing Flag Propganda 8: Old Glory at half mast, and Chattanooga, Washington D.C., and New Jersey

The Flag is a symbol of the entire country, but as the WaPo, and Snopes all noted, the right wing nuts tried - again - to use it as a mechanism for propaganda (a manipulative form of lying to exploit an agenda) and division. Manipulative dishonesty about respect for the flag, from how the flag is flown, to the pledge of allegiance, is a persistent tactic on the right.

Conservatives are angry all the time because they believe ugly things which are factually false, and because they do so by choice, when verifying the facts can be easily done in our modern age of information.  The right, especially the extreme right, prefers a pretext to hate others, especially a pretext to malign the president specifically, or anyone they consider "other"/liberals/lefties generally. 

By keeping the right wingers upset over FAKE issues, the right is able to distract and misdirect their adherents away from arriving at any consensus on valid facts and issues, and from finding any common ground with the rest of the nation, either independent or on the left.  Informed people focus on entirely different topics.

What they do is equally deliberate ignorance and blind adherence to a toxic ideology; it is a targeted form of hatred.  It is evil, and has no valid place in a nation of representative government.

In this instance, after the shooting in Chattanooga, there was an outcry that Obama did not direct those federal flags under his authority to be flown at half-mast.  This was a hijacking of a tragedy for intentional, calculated dishonest right wing exploitation.  THAT is horribly disrespectful of those five members of our armed forces who died tragically. It was not ONLY the usual suspects from the right wing nut propaganda machine, but a rather extensive laundry list of right wing politicians, notably presidential candidates, those who currently or in the past held office, and Trump, jumping on the hate bandwagon.

There is no set time period before or during which this is done, and Obama was within the norm for doing so this past Tuesday.  Typically what is considered the duration of the flags at half-mast is the significant factor for the degree of honor or respect shown. The flags in front of Congress, under the control and direction of the current Republican leadership, followed the same schedule to fly at half-mast, without any criticism or acknowledgement of the right, applying a hypocritical double standard for determining patriotism.

Here is the latest image of flag propaganda, in a very real sense flag 'porn' to the extent that rabid conservatives appear to experience an orgasmic catharsis over each new opportunity to foam at the mouth.  The FACTS are that Obama NEVER ordered flags flown at half-mast for Whitney Houston (there is something a bit racist in some of the images used in this propaganda) THAT was ordered by Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, because Houston was born in New Jersey.

As noted by the fact-checking site,,

You’ve probably seen outraged social media posts and headlines about the White House flag lately, most of which go something like this: President Barack Obama ordered the White House flag to fly at half-staff to mourn Whitney Houston’s death, but failed to do so for the five soldiers slain in Chattanooga, Tenn.

This perceived breach of flag etiquette sparked a flurry of memes on the Internet and jabs on the campaign trail, particularly among conservatives and GOP presidential hopefuls Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Donald Trump. Fox News columnist Todd Starnes suggested the race of the victims was a factor in Obama not lowering the flag.

After the July 16 shooting, governors such as Rick Scott of Florida and Bill Haslam of Tennessee ordered flags at half-staff, joining local officials who took matters into their own hands absent White House action.

Easton, Pa., Mayor Sal Panto Jr. drove to the city center at a resident’s request on July 18 and lowered the American flag himself. Panto, a Democrat, told local media: "I'm fully aware I don't have the authority to do this, but I feel I just had to remind the president." In Madison, Fla., the county sheriff ordered the station’s flag at half-staff July 20. A Facebook post from the sheriff’s office explained, "The Sheriff advised that our President may not honor the fallen Marines with the Capitol’s flags, but we will."

This perceived breach of flag etiquette sparked a flurry of memes on the Internet and jabs on the campaign trail, particularly among conservatives and GOP presidential hopefuls Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Donald Trump. Fox News columnist Todd Starnes suggested the race of the victims was a factor in Obama not lowering the flag.

Even Red Sox legend Curt Schilling tweeted out a curve ball, though he insisted it wasn’t directed at the White House: "Flags at half mast for Whitney Houston? 4 Marines and 1 Navy serviceman assassinated by a terrorist on our soil.....nothing?"

The message eventually reached Washington. Republican leaders of Congress lowered the flag atop the U.S. Capitol on July 21. Obama followed suit hours later, ordering the White House flag to fly at half-staff until sunset on July 25.

As early as 2013, various memes have compared Obama’s respect for Houston to his inadequate mourning of Navy SEAL and the inspiration for American Sniper Chris Kyle, child star Shirley Temple Black, and the first general officer killed in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Harold Greene.

While Chris Kyle death was very sad, it was largely his own damn fault, not heroic, not death in the line of duty like the soldiers in Chattanooga.

Politifact went on to note:
Obama didn’t even issue a direct statement about Whitney Houston’s death, as he famously did for Robin Williams. He did, however, offer his condolences to Houston’s family through his press secretary.
So, clearly this is NOT a new propaganda tactic on the right.  In addition to the excerpt below, Politifact detailed some of the other occasions when President Obama DID order the flag flown at half mast.  See the Politifact entry for the specifics, for closer comparison and contrast.  President Obama's decisions to do so have been consistent with traditional flag directives and with the rules of flag etiquette.
Since 2009, Obama has ordered the flag at half-staff a number of times (there’s no official count, but unofficial compilations do exist). Just as it was under previous presidents, the flag is lowered every year on Memorial Day, the Dec. 7 anniversary of Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and holidays honoring fallen firefighters and police officers.
He’s also given the order for remembering Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy and commemorating the deaths of Nelson Mandela, former Speaker of the House Thomas Foley, former Sens. Daniel Inouye and Arlen Specter, Neil Armstrong, the last World War I veteran, and civil rights leader Dorothy Height.
Obama has also ordered the White House and all other American flags on government property flown at half-staff for some mass murders in the United States.
We all need to be pushing back against propaganda and manipulation, and deliberate lies -- and willful ignorance, hate and stupidity from the right.

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