Recent rhetoric surrounding the need for a new flag is only the latest attempt by far-left extremists trying to delegitimize our country and promote a radical agenda. Too many contemporary leftists conflate unfortunate societal norms of historical time periods and hold our country to a different standard than the rest of human civilization. It is supercilious and iniquitous virtue signaling to question who the flag represents. Unquestionably, the flag of the United States of America represents all people living here. It always has.
World history did not begin in 1776 and, unfortunately, it has always been brutal and messy. Yes, our country has sinned in the past, but those sins are not much different than any other country or civilization that has ever existed. Those who would diminish the meaning of our flag make a habit of emphasizing the ills of American history while concurrently ignoring the ills of the rest of human civilization at the same time. This is done to make America appear worse – even when other countries, societies, and civilizations were suffering the same exact injustices.
These critics frequently bring up slavery as the preeminent example of America’s original sin. Slavery – an institution that has existed since the beginning of human civilization – is unquestionably a blemish on our country’s past. It was an unjust and oppressive system that enabled white men, free black men, and Native Americans to own African slaves in this country. Yet, it is also a blemish on the rest of the world’s past too. Indeed, slavery started in Africa as tribal leaders captured their own people and sold them to European traders. Ultimately, in the United States, it was the ideals that our flag represents in which more than 625,000 men gave their lives in a war to end this injustice.
Those who would diminish the meaning of our flag make a habit of emphasizing the ills of American history while concurrently ignoring the ills of the rest of human civilization at the same time.
Similarly, for too many years, women were denied the right to vote in this country. And while those who would defame our country are quick to criticize this injustice, such criticism typically omits the fact that the rest of the world did the same thing. Yet, it was the cherished ideals of American freedom and democracy, which our flag represents, that pushed the country to be one of the leaders in women’s suffrage – enfranchising women before many of the countries in Europe, South America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
Through good and bad, the American flag represents all of us. It represents the freedom to criticize the flag as well as the rights that come with protecting those who do the criticizing. It represents everyone’s freedom and everyone’s potential to fulfill their dreams – perhaps never more so than in the 21st century. Our sins are those of every civilization in world history. What makes America exceptional is that we fight to atone for our sins under that flag and because of the ideals that our flag represents.
Chris Tremoglie has been published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily Caller, Washington Examiner, and National Review. He recently completed his honors thesis on “Did Glasnost and Perestroika Cause a Rise in Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet Balkans?” @cwtremo.