We’re currently relitigating the debate over the American flag and whether professional athletes show disrespect for it when they kneel in protest when it’s displayed or during the national anthem. I thought we’d all kind of agreed there were more important things in our lives — professional sports are only slowly beginning to lift the shutters — but apparently this is a thing again.
However, I think both sides in the debate can agree on this: Government employees whose salary is paid with taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be using the flag as a mop.
Believe it or not, that’s what one man said he saw New York City Parks Department employees doing with Ol’ Glory — and it led to a confrontation with a veteran.
According to the New York Post, a member of the Guardian Angels volunteer crime prevention organization encountered the two Parks Department employees on Saturday.
Jose Gonzalez said he was on patrol on the Coney Island boardwalk when he came across the men wiping down the floor of a bathroom using the American flag as a mophead.
This led, rather predictably, to a confrontation involving an elderly veteran.
The vet, Gonzalez said, told the Parks Department employee they “can’t use the flag to wipe up urine and s— from the floor.”
“He was really angry,” the Guardian Angel said.
“The Parks guy didn’t see what the big deal was and told him, ‘It’s just a symbol.'”
The veteran decided against physical confrontation; Gonzalez said he stormed out of the bathroom.
Gonzalez didn’t get any video of the to-do, but he snapped a photo of the flag being used as a mophead:
— New York Post (@nypost) June 13, 2020
Now, in case you hadn’t guessed, this isn’t in line with the U.S. Flag Code.
The code includes prohibitions that the flag “should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way” and that it “should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.”
That assumedly includes bathroom floors.
The sad thing is that this happened on Saturday — one day before Flag Day, which isn’t getting much play this year. It doesn’t get much play in New York City most years, as the founder of the Guardian Angels noted.
“This is an absolute disgrace especially one day before Flag Day, an honored day that no one is discussing in New York City,” Curtis Sliwa, the group’s founder, said, according to the Post.
“Clearly, we are not educating our citizens. At a time when we are all divided, it’s the flag that brings us together.”
Unfortunately, many don’t understand that.
The great irony here is that we live in the United States, a country where such an action is legal, if rebarbative. Try this in China.
Maybe I’m wrong, though. In these trying times, I hope those of us on both sides of the patriotism and professional sports debate can agree on one thing: This is offensive, disgusting and stupid.
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