Tom Durkin: Stop the steal of our flag |

Tom Durkin: Stop the steal of our flag

Wrapping yourself in an American flag does not make you a patriot any more than going to church makes you a Christian.

The people who stormed the Capitol Jan. 6 were not patriots, despite their chants of “USA! USA!,” weaponized American flags, and the blessings of a man who would be their king.

The true patriots at the Capitol Jan. 6, 2021, were the Capitol Police and the D.C. Metro Police. They defended the members of Congress against the murderous mob who, unchecked, might have lynched (they had a gallows) sitting members of the U.S. government, including the vice president.

The flag-waving mob consisted of revolutionaries, insurrectionists, seditionists, rebels, thugs, racists, extremists, criminals, sovereign citizens, rogue cops, war-trained veterans, domestic terrorists, conspirators. Not a patriot among them.

To be fair, many of the people in the riot just got caught up in the moment, mob mentality, mass hysteria. They probably thought they were in the right because they truly believed Donald Trump won the election.

After all, since last summer Trump had been telling his supporters the only way he could lose the election was if it were rigged. And when he actually did lose the election, he refused to accept the results and whipped his supporters into a seditious frenzy by claiming — without any evidence whatsoever — that the election was stolen from him.

Aided and abetted by journalistically bankrupt right-wing media and self-serving politicians, Trump still sustains “The Big Lie” that he won despite overwhelming evidence that he lost.

The Big Lie is a tactic chillingly articulated by one of the architects of the Holocaust, Josef Goebbels, who said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

I used to believe it could never happen here. I was wrong. It is happening here.

By grandiosely and mendaciously repeating the Big Lie that he won the election, Trump and his media sycophants have fooled — and made fools of — millions of credulous Americans.

Two hundred-and-still-counting rioters are facing federal charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies to sedition. Fooled by Trump and the alt-right media. Foolish for taking selfies.


Not only does Trump continue to promulgate the Big Lie, he has mesmerized millions of Americans into thinking they’re patriots. And these zombie patriots have appropriated the American flag as if only they were entitled to it.

There’s nothing patriotic about overthrowing our government.

And it is oxymoronic to use the American flag in support of insurrection.

All together now: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands ….”

There’s a whole lot of cognitive dissonance going on here, some very pretzeled logic, alternate reality.

It is a fundamental law of the universe: The more you ignore reality, the more it will work against you. Just ask the folks in jail.

I like to think some Trump supporters were shocked back into the real world, ashamed of what happened Jan. 6 and beginning to realize what Trump and his echo chamber have played them.

U.S. democracy marched forward and certified the election of Biden and Harris despite the riot and Trump’s histrionics.

They saw Trump impeached, again. This time for the high crime of inciting insurrection. They witnessed a lopsided trial where the House impeachment managers proved beyond doubt Trump was guilty, guilty, guilty.

Depressingly but not surprisingly, 43 Republican senators ignored the evidence Feb. 13 and voted to acquit. Perhaps they just want to ride Trump’s insurrectionary gravy train to its dead end. Or maybe those faithless pols are afraid of their Trump-loving and some clearly violent constituents?

What was encouraging and surprising Feb. 13 was that seven Republican senators — Burr, Cassidy, Collins, Murkowski, Romney, Sasse and Toomey — broke ranks and voted to convict Trump. They risked political suicide by rejecting partisan politics and upholding their oaths “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

As Sen. Mitch McConnell so eloquently and hypocritically put it after he voted to acquit on an inane technicality, there was “no question” Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection riot.

Real patriots vote their conscience. Real Republicans accept the results of elections. They suck it up if they don’t like who got elected, just as the Democrats did in 2000, 2004 and 2016.

Real patriots don’t betray their oath of office and vote — even after the riot — not to certify the free and fair election of Biden and Harris.

Eighteenth-century British pundit Samuel Johnson noted, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

Former President Donald Trump is a lying, power-hungry scoundrel, and the people who blindly follow him are not patriots.

By their actions and rejection of reality, they have forfeited their right to call themselves patriots or to display the flag of the country they betrayed.

The election wasn’t stolen, but the U.S. flag was.

It’s our flag, and we want it back.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada City.

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