McElroy: The true problem with the flag


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The United States has a lot of problems. The American flag being laid on the ground isn’t one of them.

Leading up to President Obama’s visit to Iowa City, the University of Iowa posted a picture on Facebook depicting a mammoth American flag lying on the ground. Yes, some workers had the audacity to set the flag, in some capacity, on the ground before hoisting all 2 million of its square feet up the side of a building.

Naturally, the digital mobs came out of the cyber woodwork with pitchforks and pants hiked up to their belly buttons, wanted the president’s head over this direct attack on America the beautiful.

The mob cited the American Flag Code and wondered how a president — especially one who is cited as having so much “Muslim” and “communistic” pride — could get away with such an unthinkable act. Beyond forbidding contact with the filthy earth, the “code” (likely handed down via prophet from the angel of George Washington) states the flag must be “hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.”

This is where I briskly raise my eyebrows and ceremoniously tell you to get a grip.

Everyone throwing a hissy fit over the flag’s brief encounter with the ground needs to ground herself or himself before she or he loses all touch with reality. After all, it’s not like the ground tried to use government-funded birth control for a one-night stand with the flag.

This backlash should be rerouted to a meaningful cause, a cause that positively reflects on the very flag that’s up (or down) for debate. As a nation, we ignore the more than 20 million veterans who sleep on the same ground we can’t bear to let the flag brush up against. As a nation, we ignore the nearly 8 million children who go uninsured and, as a result, lack even an ounce of attention this specific flag is receiving. As a nation, we ignore the estimated 1.3 million women who are domestic-assault victims and yet light the torches when flag is “abused.”

The United States’ problem isn’t how we treat the flag — it’s how we treat the people under it.

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