• December 14, 2019

NATIONAL VIEW: Thin blue flag shouldn’t be controversial - Odessa American: Guest Columns

e-Edition Subscribe

NATIONAL VIEW: Thin blue flag shouldn’t be controversial

THE POINT: The best choice is to focus on the real stuff, not the metaphors.

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2019 2:30 am

Recently, a father and son duo in Montgomery County presented a “thin blue line” flag made out of wood to their local police station in recognition of National First Responders Day. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they simply wanted to do something nice for police and to respectfully recognize that officers risk their lives each day to protect the rest of us from harm. It’s not uncommon to find such flags in police stations across the country. But the image of a flag with a thin blue line — a metaphor for how police man the front line for keeping social order — has also been associated with white nationalists and, by extension, been used to justify police violence against black residents. Such was the case in Charlottesville, Va., when the flag was used (no doubt much to the consternation of police) by white supremacists.

On Friday, Nov. 1, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich cautioned police not to put the flag on display at the station in Germantown. It was a prudent choice, and the whole thing might have just ended with that, but, alas, it didn’t. The union representing police, Montgomery County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35, issued a statement angrily condemning the decision as an “act of outright disrespect.” And it might have ended with that as well (police unions and elected leaders do a certain amount of fussing at each other routinely), except Gov. Larry Hogan felt an obligation to weigh in as well. On Sunday, Nov. 3, he tweeted that the county executive’s decision was “outrageous and unconscionable,” and the kerfuffle made Fox News commentariat, which seldom misses a chance to exploit white-black, police-civilian conflicts. Can President Donald Trump be far behind?

These have been challenging times for police and the communities they serve. It doesn’t require the allegations surrounding Freddie Gray’s death here in Baltimore (or, in some cases, acts of police brutality or misconduct against minorities captured on video) to recognize a tension exists between the men and women who serve and protect, and the local residents who fear unfair, heavy-handed discriminatory treatment. Smart police leaders are aware of this and work diligently to mend those fences and restore trust. And then there are those who stick their heads in the sand and refuse to recognize these legitimate concerns.

Is a U.S. flag with a blue line in the middle really all that big a deal? It shouldn’t be. Is the Blue Lives Matter movement inherently problematic because its very name signals that it was a reaction to Black Lives Matter and that police lives are therefore valued more than black lives? The argument can be made. So why can’t we just set those things aside and work toward a better relationship between police and minorities? The best choice is to focus on the real stuff, not the metaphors. County Executive Elrich had the right idea: Let’s support police by not trying to sabotage their relationships with folks who already have reason to distrust them.

Odessa, TX

Current Conditions

Sunny
77°
Humidity: 21%
Winds: W at 18mph
Feels Like: 77°

Your Extended Forecast

Tomorrow

weather
High 78°/Low 49°
Abundant sunshine. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 40s.

sunday

weather
High 77°/Low 40°
Sunshine. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the low 40s.

monday

weather
High 55°/Low 28°
Abundant sunshine. Highs in the mid 50s and lows in the upper 20s.
Online Features

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>




  • ALL-ACCESS: Subscribe to our e-edition and premium website at myoaoa.com.
    You can read your daily newspaper without taking a walk to the driveway.
    Look back at yesterday's newspaper, or issues from months ago with our archive feature.
    Call circulation at 432-337-7314 to sign up today.