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Only Fly the Flag at Embassies

US embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine
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By: Rich Lowry – nationalreview.com – November 20, 2022
Flying it and only it over our outposts abroad, no matter how grand or how small and embattled, shouldn’t be controversial or a close question.

House Republicans aren’t going to be able to accomplish much, but high on their “to do” list should be ensuring that the Red, White, and Blue is the only flag displayed by U.S.-government institutions overseas.

U.S. embassies shouldn’t be outposts of progressive evangelism. They shouldn’t fly or otherwise display the flag of any social movement or faction. It is no more appropriate to display the banner of Black Lives Matter than Blue Lives Matter. And the rainbow flag is not, as so many State Department employees seem to assume, a banner of universal righteousness.

At institutions representing the United States abroad, it should be the flag of the United States, and nothing else — the Stars and Stripes forever, and exclusively.

Fortunately, Representative Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.) has been offering a bill since 2018 to guarantee exactly this. The Old Glory Only Act is a simple piece of legislation. It says, “The Secretary of State shall ensure that no United States diplomatic or consular post flies any flag other than the United States flag over such post.”

The bill needs to be more sweeping to guard against other prominent displays of non-U.S. flags (more on that below), but that the bill is necessary at all demonstrates, yet again, how woke ideology seeps into and distorts every institution. U.S. diplomats are supposed to be representing the United States to the world, not representing Oberlin College, the New York Times newsroom, the Left of the Democratic Party, or any other culturally progressive institution. Still, they can’t help themselves.

President Barack Obama gave embassies carte blanche to fly rainbow flags during “pride month” — i.e., the month formerly known as June. The Washington Post noted that the guidelines “included rules for flying rainbow flags from poles outside embassies — they had to be smaller than the American flag and fly beneath it.”

So at least the rainbow flags presumably couldn’t be as big as the famous Great Garrison Flag from Fort McHenry. Otherwise, it was anything goes. By the end, ambassadors or chiefs of mission could make the call about displaying rainbow banners on their own.

Trump reversed course. Embassies had to request permission. “A practice routinely approved for most of the decade at many embassies,” the Washington Post reported at the time, “now requires top-level approval from the State Department.” As of 2019, permission was invariably and appropriately denied. According to NBC News, U.S. embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil, and Latvia were all told “no.”

But the requests only involved flying a non-U.S. flag from the official flag poles. Otherwise, rainbow flags could be displayed within embassies or on buildings, creating considerable leeway.

In Berlin, where prominent gay Republican Richard Grenell was ambassador, the embassy spokesman Joseph Giordono-Scholz told NBC: “The pride flag will be on as many places as it can at the Embassy.”

The Washington Post recounted all the displays that still happened:

The facades of the U.S. missions in Seoul and Chennai, India, are partially hidden behind large rainbow flags, while the embassy in New Delhi is aglow in rainbow colored lights. The website for the embassy in Santiago, Chile, shows a video of the chief diplomat raising a rainbow flag last month for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

The Vienna embassy’s website features a photo of a rainbow flag flying below Old Glory on a mast jutting from the building, a statement by Diplomats for Equality and a story about a professor lecturing on the visibility and growth of LGBT rights.

Before officials back in Washington nixed it, the U.S. embassy in South Korea in June 2020 displayed a rainbow flag, as well as a Black Lives Matter banner.

Antony Blinken said at his confirmation hearing as secretary of state that he would overturn the Trump-administration prohibition on the rainbow flag “to outright show LGBTQ solidarity.”

The Black Lives Matter banner, symbol of a movement whose hostility to law enforcement has contributed to a spike in violent crime in the U.S. and whose organizers have been exposed as grifters, is also back.

Last year, Foreign Policy reported on an internal cable giving chiefs of missions “blanket written authorization” for BLM flags. An email statement to the publication said, “The United States remains concerned about the racial and ethnic injustices against people of color and other marginalized communities both domestically and abroad. We encourage our missions around the world to focus on eliminating systemic racism and its global impact.”

Your State Department at work.

Along with the other drawbacks to displaying banners associated with controversial causes is the fact that it creates unnecessary diplomatic problems, which prior to the age of woke diplomacy, State-Department types sought to avoid.

Why, by the way, stick our finger in the eye of the Vatican?

What is this supposed to accomplish or prove?

It’s clear that, in this Congress, Republicans will have only a couple of points of real leverage around must-pass legislation to increase the debt limit and to keep government funding from lapsing. The temptation to overreach will be strong, but the non–U.S.-flag prohibition is at least one minimal measure that the GOP should seek to attach to such legislation.

Men and women have fought and died for the American flag. It is an instantly recognizable symbol of the American nation and our power and goodness. It represents all of us. It is beautiful. It needs no additions or supplements.

Flying it and only it over our outposts abroad, no matter how grand or how small and embattled, shouldn’t be controversial or a close question. Republicans should insist on it.

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Source: U.S. Embassies: Fly American Flags Only | National Review

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