Last Sunday night someone chose to enter my property, go to a cottage in which good people were sleeping, and steal the flagpole and flag. It was a Black Lives Matter flag. These actions suggest a likely alignment with Trumpism’s white supremacist elements. As a resident of Warsaw for 33 years, I challenge Republican Committees to denounce such actions.
The theft points to political hypocrisy in three ways. First, populist conservatives claim that law-and-order is sacrosanct. Committing theft is a crime, and as an attempt to deny free expression it is doubly so. The crime exhibits the dangerous attitude that law is for everyone but oneself. Second, populist conservatism staunchly defends property rights. Crossing onto someone’s property is clear trespassing. Third, populist conservatives claim they do not support racism. Stealing a flag critiquing racism makes the thief intentionally racist. That third point, while troubling, is sadly unsurprising in a region replete with Confederate flags displayed unabashedly (some paired with Trump signs), as well as Trump signs paired with lawn jockeys—insensitive racist antiques.
The response “We don’t have these problems here” presents collective self-deception, an unwillingness to own our history, and behavior. Stealing flags and signs accomplishes nothing. Futile, arrogant acts of criminality, ignorance, disrespect for constitutionality and attempted intimidation reveal incapacity for intellectual, civil communication. It’s time to stop blaming others for the crises, to engage in self-reflection about how what one is willing to accept, support, or overlook for political expedience. Civil, meaningful, humble conversation might follow.