The U.S. flag has long been a symbol of unity for Americans of all backgrounds, which is typically grounds for universal celebration on July Fourth.
For a growing number of voices on the left, however, the flag’s vast expanse of red, white and blue at former President Donald Trump’s rallies has become associated, in their view, with something deplorable. For example, an NBC News article went so far as to compare Trump supporters’ embrace of the flag to the way it was co-opted by Nazi organizations during Hitler’s rise within Germany.
On or about the July Fourth holiday, legacy media, and some representatives in Congress, used their pages or Twitter feed to portray Old Glory as a politically and racially divisive symbol.
The New York Times published a story claiming the American flag was “once a unifying symbol” but is “now alienating to some.” The reason, the piece claimed, was the flag was waved “fervently” by Trump supporters.
“Today, flying the American flag from the back of a pickup truck or over a lawn is increasingly seen as a clue, albeit an imperfect one, to a person’s political affiliation in a deeply divided nation,” the Times said.
Today, flying the American flag from the back of a pickup truck or over a lawn is increasingly seen as a clue, albeit an imperfect one, to a person’s political affiliation in a deeply divided nation. https://t.co/6cZF7DJgxK
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 5, 2021
Reverence for the stars and stripes is a part of our country’s history. This trend that flared on July Fourth raises an interesting question: does the political right now “own” the American flag?
In June, The New York Times defended a member of their editorial board, Mara Gay, after she said she was “disturbed” by the sight of American flags in Long Island. (RELATED: Hate For America Has Never Been Higher With Some Of The Most Powerful People)
“Essentially, the message was clear, this is my country. This is not your country. I own this,” Gay said.
Some commentators on the left agreed with the sentiment.
This is what Mara Gay is talking about.
I’ll speak for myself here: I’ve folded countless American flags for the loved ones of fallen service members, and when I see this, all I can think is: “Yeah, that person is definitely an asshole and most likely a coward.” pic.twitter.com/mhgj6j0rlP
— Charlotte Clymer ????️???? (@cmclymer) June 8, 2021
Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry also recently caused a stir for turning her back to the American flag when the national anthem played after she placed third at the trials.
She was once again defended by many on the left.
“It doesn’t matter whether I agree with Berry or not in her decision to turn away from the flag during the National Anthem,” writes @JillFilipovic. “What matters is that she’s protected in having the full freedom to do so. That’s American.” | @CNNOpinion https://t.co/C9g7s3YaA4
— CNN (@CNN) July 5, 2021
Republicans were consistently found to rate significantly higher in American pride than Democrats, according to Gallup data. The number of Democrats who said they were “extremely proud” to be an American dropped by half over the course of the Trump administration, from 44% in 2016 to a record low of just 22% in 2019.
The number of Republicans, conversely, who said they were “extremely proud” to be an American, dropped from 78% in 2008, when former President Barack Obama was elected, to just 68% by 2013. (RELATED: Poll: Literally The Only Political Demographic That Mostly Does Not Take Pride In Being American Is Progressive Activists)
The aftermath of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election seemed to, at least in part, cause Democrats to regain their reverence for their country. According to Gallup, Democrats who said they were “extremely” to be American jumped up nearly 10 points.
Furthermore, a Politico piece published shortly after the election cited many Democrats who said that they feel pride in their country again now that a politician they agree with would soon be in the White House.
“My attitude’s changed about it now. I am proud of my country. I love my flag. I love my country. And it’s nice to see the flag again representing the country as a whole, instead of one section of it,” said California screenwriter told Politico.
Though it’s becoming increasingly pervasive on the left to deem a unifying national symbol like the American flag as divisive, there are those who stand out and are defying the loud cacophony.
The primary example of this on July Fourth was when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a video as he was hovering on a kinetic surfboard over a lake while holding a large American flag.
Love him or hate him but at least Zuckerberg is proud to be an American. pic.twitter.com/491Sh7wU3R
— Ian Miles Cheong @ stillgray.substack.com (@stillgray) July 5, 2021