Society
Society

People Are Flying The Flag Upside Down To Protest Trump

| by Sarah Zimmerman

A viral op-ed is encouraging Americans to fly their flags upside down in protest of President Donald Trump.

Chauncey DeVega, a political staff writer for Salon, made waves July 3 when he suggested that those dissatisfied with the country's political climate should fly their American flags upside down. Citing the Republicans' attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, various investigations into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia, and a rise in politically related violence, DeVega argued that "Donald Trump has debased the office of the presidency."

"The United States is a country that is truly in distress," he wrote. "I offer the following proposal. On this first Independence Day under President Trump, people of conscience and true patriots should fly the American flag upside down, as a collective signal of our national distress."

This isn't the first time someone has suggested flying the flag upside as a form of protest. Another op-ed from liberal blog Daily Kos encouraged Americans to do the same on Inauguration Day.

"There’s only one thing to do after Wednesday’s press conference by President-elect Donald Trump, and his Twitter tantrum, get out your American flag and fly it upside down on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day," writes author Liz Berge, an associate professor of journalism at William Paterson University. "It is a succinct, dramatic message to everyone that something is desperately amiss."

In the past, some have gotten in trouble for flying their flags incorrectly. In 2016, Army veteran Homer Matz was arrested for performing the act in protest of an oil pipeline being built near his house. He faced a fine and up to 30 days in jail for desecrating the flag, something he claimed he had the right to do under the First Amendment.

"But you know, freedom of speech, freedom to protest -- people can burn the American flag," Martz said. "It's legal. That's the Supreme Court."

Flag desecration is indeed a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, according to Cornell Law School. Usually, flags hung upside down signal great distress. The United States Flag Code states that upside-down flags indicate that the owner of the flag is in extreme danger and his life or property is threatened.

DeVega and others believe that a presidency under Donald Trump does constitute a time of distress, saying the president's policies directly endanger minorities, the poor, and the elderly.

To DeVega, flying the flag upside down is a form of resistance "necessary to protect American democracy from Trump and his allies."

"Flying the American flag upside down in protest against Donald Trump’s rule is an important act of symbolic politics," he wrote. "It signals to others that they are not alone and isolated in their opposition to Donald Trump." 

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