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SERIES | I Pledge Allegiance to the Half-Masted Flag (Part 1)

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The first in a limited series of articles are about whether flying the national flag at half-mast is an appropriate response to mass shootings; but situating the discussion within the broader culture war.

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The Root of the Problem

Is there any person alive today – particularly in the West – who does not recognize that we are living in an era of decline? It’s pretty much a truism at this point. The civilizational values on which the West was built are being challenged, and it is hard to see how the clear and intended object of this challenge is anything short of the complete overthrow of those values.

I say challenged – not questioned. Let’s talk terms.

Socrates teaches us that questioning is usually a healthy thing, even when (perhaps especially when) the question stings. Indeed, this whole blog – and much of Blerkins’ real life – is predicated on the notion. We frequently take an opposing view of things without regard to whether we actually agree with it – just to see if people actually know what they’re talking about. Plus, the look outrage is fairly satisfying.

More seriously, questioning implies a search for truth. Even the very act of asking a question suggests a willingness to engage in a rational, meaningful exchange with others, particularly those with opposing views. Questioning is dialogue and conversation. The real winner in a debate isn’t one side or the other, but rather the truth itself.

This does not mean all answers are equally correct. There can be mistaken conclusions, or conclusions born of ignorance or cultural blindness. We guard against this by taking into account the trustworthiness of the source, by educating the young, by grounding ourselves on a standard such as the Bible. We may ultimately reject the answer if doing so moves us closer to what is true.

In fact, the civilizational values of the West have been questioned relentlessly – for the good – since the martyrdom of Socrates. From the moment he downed the hemlock it has been the birthright of every child of Athens, in perpetuity, to question pretty much everything. It is arguably Athens’ greatest contribution to the West.

Thus, when Tertullian asks, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Our answer is that Truth comes to us in two ways: by revelation (Jerusalem) and by questioning (Athens). So we’re good with questioning. Question away!

But what we see happening today is not questioning. Instead, we see that the civilizational values of the West – the cultural mortar binding the West together -- are being fundamentally challenged, resisted, ignored, inverted, perverted, subverted – with the obvious design that those same values be overthrown, cast down, and trampled. Like a brother who betrays the secrets of the Lodge, they seek to dismember and burn Western values, scattering the ashes to the four winds.

This is why the political left acts like it does; why to normal people they seem to be actually insane (or at least, “off the deep end”). They seem unreasonable because they aren’t the least interested in discussing Western values. No, they are in a visible state of war with these values, and they do not intend to take any prisoners. It’s a scorched-earth policy.

Almost no cultural commentator even asks whether this is so. It’s that self-evident. The so-called journalists of our day wonder only whether this cultural coup is good or bad for the economy, and speculate about how long the whole project is going to take.

How is all this connected to the flag?

The American project of constitutionalism is concerned principally with restraint of government. It suppresses dictator and mob alike. But, for the socialist, government is the tool by which they may usher into their particular brand of tyranny. The flag, therefore, is more than than a patriotic gesture (though it is also that). It is a symbol for the resistance, a fortress of which impedes their conquest of us all.

The notion of pledged allegiance is an affront to their fake morality and a reminder of the God who refuses to indulge their perversions. Thus, it is not enough for them to simply abstain from saying the pledge, or even dispense with it in many forums. No, it must be subverted. The symbol itself must be twisted and weaponized and used in the take-down. They will not be satisfied until the flag undergoes an act of ritualistic suicide.

Until that happens, the flag remains for them a visible symbol of frustration. This is why they have instead taken to cheapening it -- softening the target -- so that in a few short months or years, flying the American flag will be as outrageous as flying the Confederate flag is in most places today.

In Part 2, we will discuss who is responsible for this coup. Once their identity is revealed, the preoccupation with the flag will come into ever-sharper focus.

Blerkins is an eclectic blog of scholarly reflection and cultural commentary for folks who still believe that Western civilization has merit; and that life is far too interesting to give up on, or waste on television.
Our audience tends to be people exasperated with the world but too idealistic to give up on cultural engagement; who swim in a world seemingly devoid of truth, yet are too ethical for hedonism.


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