Ed Lawrence, of Frankfort, Ky., shares his response to the images of January 6, 2021. If you would like to submit a post to Clearing the Fog, please contact us here.
In the wake of last Wednesday’s events, my preferred media outlets have been spewing a lot of powerful words (also words related to power) like tyranny, sedition, rebellion, revolution, coup, conspiracy, and insurrection. I felt like insurrection might be the right word to describe the mob effect of that day in our history. I asked my Google Home device for a definition. “Violent uprising against a government or authority” seemed to me to best fit the bill for my perception of what happened.
As I watched the video clips of the insurrection over and over again, I started focusing on the flags waving in the air. In 2020 I took a class in visual rhetoric and so I began doing an amateur rhetorical analysis on the flags carried by the insurrectionists.
Of course, there were many Trump flags, which would be natural given the person who incited the insurrection. I feel like those carrying those flags were self-appointed members of the Trump militia.
Those carrying the American flag clearly felt it was their patriotic duty to bring back an America that only exists in their imaginations. A country that is solely white, Christian, and English speaking.
I noticed a couple of state flags: Florida and New Mexico to be precise. Were there Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania flags? I can only suppose the carriers were making a case for states’ rights.
Media personalities kept saying the insurrection was surreal. My response to that was that they had never dropped acid. The insurrection was real, not surreal. Then I saw the huge flag bearing the name JESUS in bold letters. Is Jesus really prepared to run our government? I mean no disrespect to Jesus or to Christians of any stripe, but why was Jesus represented at the insurrection? The Jesus flag did seem surreal.
And then there was the Confederate flag in the Capitol. I understand why most people in this country were incensed by the sight. But for me, I travel the backroads of Kentucky making landscape photographs and come across Confederate flags so often, I’m numbed to outrage.
The flag that has me outraged is the flag of the Thin Blue Line. Why did I spot several policemen’s flags at the insurrection? Were police really in attendance trying to overthrow our government? I thought police take an oath to serve and protect, not riot and insurrect.
Today, the breaking news is that many Capitol police aided and abetted in the insurrection. Troubling indeed, but I still think about local police who were there. And with that thought, how many of them were complicit in the murder of Black citizens of our country? I’m generally not one for retribution, but I hope those carrying the flag of the Thin Blue Line are found and banished from policing forever.