Television personality Mike Rowe has offered up a defense of the American flag, after being told it was just a “mere symbol.” It is one of the best pro-flag arguments you will ever read.
Rowe’s Facebook post on the flag came after someone responded to his criticism of the decision by Hampshire College to remove the American flag from flying on the campus. The person dismissed Rowe’s criticism, saying the flag was a “mere symbol” and therefore, not deserving of a level of respect many are demanding.
What makes Rowe’s response so perfect is that it is intellectually attack-proof. Too often, when someone comes to the defense of the American flag, it is often a rant wrapped in blind patriotism. There is no intellectual argument given to combat the liberal dogma. It is merely defiance without reason. It doesn’t do the cause justice, and it certainly doesn’t convince someone who holds an opposing view.
Rowe does more than just blindly defend the flag. He points out a belief that many liberals live by – that symbols have meanings. He points out that liberals have their own “sacred cows,” like the LGBT flag, and any religion that’s NOT Christianity. He argues that the flag is more than that. The thing about ‘mere symbols’ Susanne, is that they represent ‘mere ideas,’ and ‘mere ideas’ are the backbone of ‘mere humanity.’ In the case of the flag, we’re talking about ideas that are wrapped into the Constitution – a document that separates us from every other country on the planet,” he said.
Here is the original email to Mike Rowe by Susanne McDaniel.
How did you become so blindly patriotic? First of all, the college you were referencing in your rant about the American flag is a private college and doesn’t receive federal funding. However…the very essence of freedom in this country is our right to speak out against the flag, which is a mere symbol. If you take away that right, then we have lost all freedom. You really need to take a civics course, Mike Rowe. I used to like you; but, you have really become very annoying to me in recent years. I thought you were more intelligent. But, I guess appearances aren’t everything.
Here is the Mike Rowe American Flag essay response, in its entirety.
It is absolutely amazing, providing just the right balance of reason and insight. It is not just blind devotion.
I’ve never thought of myself as “blindly patriotic,” but I am a fan of the United States, the founding fathers, and the men and women who have served on my behalf. I also confess to feeling lucky to live here. Having said that, I think you’re correct about the flag; it’s only a symbol. So too is the Crucifix. And the middle finger. And the Swastika. And the compressed chunks of carbon that millions wear on their ring fingers as expressions of timeless love and eternal devotion.
It’s easy to make anything feel small and silly by reducing it to its chemical composition or its various component parts. But if you really believe our flag is nothing but a “mere symbol,” equally suitable for flying or burning, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable if the people you work with suddenly started coming to the office in pointy white hats fashioned from bedsheets? Would that be a problem for you? Or how about The Rainbow Flag, favored by the LGBTQ community? Would it be OK if people started burning that? If not, why not? I mean, it’s only a symbol, right?
Years ago, an artist named Andres Serrano presented a charming piece called “Immersion.” It consisted of a Crucifix, immersed in a glass of the artist’s urine. Amazingly, some people were offended. Christians, in particular. They just couldn’t see that Andres was using a symbol to express himself. Silly Christians. Interesting though, that Andres didn’t submerge Mohammed in the same glass. I wonder why that is?
The thing about “mere symbols” Susanne, is that they represent “mere ideas,” and “mere ideas” are the backbone of “mere humanity.” In the case of the flag, we’re talking about ideas that are wrapped into the Constitution – a document that separates us from every other country on the planet.
Mere ideas are the reason people fight and die. Mere ideas are the reason we’re allowed to speak freely, protest publicly, bear arms, and burn the very symbol that represents those very freedoms. I didn’t suggest that you or anyone else be denied your right to fly or burn whatever flag you wish. What I failed to do, is quietly accept behavior I don’t care for. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is the same compulsion that motivates others to publicly express themselves in whatever ways they choose.
As for Hampshire College, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. If you check the link I provided in my original post, you’ll see that several forms of federal funding are readily available to their students. Also, according to their site, you’ll notice that the flag is once again flying at full staff. I’ll take no credit for this, if you offer no blame. Deal?
Finally, regarding my overall annoyance, you’re correct, and you’re not alone. I’ve been annoying people for years now. Just ask my mother. And yes, I too, once thought I was more intelligent than I actually am. I still remember the disappointment when the test results come back.
Anyway, thanks for your comments, Susanne. I do hope you’ll stick around.
Please share this Mike Rowe American flag essay with as many people as you can! H/T: The Daily Caller