«Normally I let people interpret my poems as they will, but here I will be crystal clear on one point.» So says Patrick Jennings in #236 of his Pic and a Word Challenge series, and I concur. My poem in response to the challenge has a final couplet that could be misinterpreted, so I too will try to be crystal clear afterward.
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Freedom ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #236
Breonna Taylor and George Floyd did not enjoy freedoms that a white guy like me could easily take for granted.
Freedom to be left alone,
not be shot in my own home.
Freedom from the nagging fear
that a racist cop is near.
Freedom to salute the flag,
or to burn it like a rag?
The Pledge of Allegiance ends with an aspiration, not a fact. Maybe some flag burnings are meant to protest America’s failure to provide liberty and justice for all, but they don’t look like that. They look like flag burnings in Tehran, like hatred of the republic for which it stands.
Tho ardent about civil liberties, I can accept prosecution of flag burners for violating local ordinances against open burning and the air pollution it causes. Don’t give jerks who alienate potential allies an excuse to fancy themselves as martyrs for freedom of speech.
There are respectful ways to protest with the flag. Fly it upside down. Display artwork that incorporates it, such as the moving “Close the Camps” stickers (designed by artist Pablo Stanley) that were distributed by MoveOn.org in 2017.
Above all, remember that the worst defilers of the flag are the bigots and plutocrats who hide behind it, while denying others the freedoms it represents.
Remember in November.