Cheryl Cook: Our flag is not a weapon

The Stars and Stripes were flown in battle for the first time in September 1777, during the Revolutionary War after patriots staged a notorious protest by dumping tea in Boston Harbor and chose to fight for our freedom from a tyrannical monarch. It is a symbol of a country unified in pursuit of liberty, honor and justice.

On Aug. 9, Nevada City was confronted with an ugly show of force right here on our own streets. A peaceful Black Lives Matter march was met with a small squadron of thugs holding rolled up American flags like weapons. They pushed, slapped, and body slammed protestors; ripping signs from their hands and masks from their faces. To the disgust of the community onlookers, they spewed obscenities laced with threats under the proud Red, White and Blue banner of the country we all call home.

They desecrated our flag in an attempt to use it against fellow Americans.

Like most Americans, Donald Trump never had those uncomfortable conversations about deaths of black men by police. Trump never issued an invitation to BLM leaders or mediated an ongoing dialogue between police and protestors. Instead, the protests escalated and Trump ordered the dispersal of peaceful protests by brute force.

We no longer fight a monarchy. Donald Trump is head of an American Oligarchy; “Government by the few, especially despotic power exercised by a small and privileged group for corrupt or selfish purposes.” The members of such a ruling group are often wealthy or are in the habit of exercising power through their wealth.

How does one win reelection and maintain an Oligarchy?

Divide a country. Arouse an extreme enthusiasm in a national superiority based on a master race or group. Promote that group as victim and the other as enemies. This justifies any behavior against perceived enemies including the suppression of their First Amendment liberties. Demonize certain cities and tell supporters, “Leave Democratic-led cities. Let them rot!”

Sabotage the election. Set the suburbs afire with a conflagration of conspiracies about the use of mail-in ballots to rig the election. The same mail-in ballot that were welcomed in the 2016 presidential election. Then contradict your edict by publicly selecting which states get the presidential pass to vote by mail according to your red or blue sharpie on the political map., i.e, Florida.

Dismantle the postal service in blue states by removing mail-sorting machines, placing locks on public mailboxes, and removing mail-in drop off boxes. Force out the Post Master General and replace him with an inexperienced Trump mega donor with $30 million invested in USPS competitors. Transfer 24 executive positions with new leadership who propose tripling the cost of mail in ballots right before an election. Inform 46 states they will not receive mail-in ballots on time.

If all else fails, drop a Russian-fed conspiracy bomb involving your opponent timed right before the election without time to fact check or defuse it. It will drop from an ongoing probe into the origins of the Russia interference investigation. It will be a direct contradiction to the conclusion of the Senate Intelligence Committee report quietly issued this month that confirms Trump campaign collusion between Manafort and a Russian agent, Konstantin Kiilimnik and the coordination of email leaks between Roger Stone and Wikileaks.

Promote responses of intimidation and violence. Promote distrust in free elections. Promote delusion in U.S. Intelligence agencies.

These violent disruptors may have captured the attention of our quiet community for a country minute, but Nevada City captured national attention when Sen. Ted Cruz maligned Nevada City in a speech before the Senate Judicial Committee a full five days before the BLM march in Nevada City. “It is coordinated and inspired by Leftist Anarchist groups, groups like Antifa, that will exploit without shame, exploit a national tragedy to attack American buildings, American homes, and American lives. … It’s happening across the country whether in Minneapolis, Nevada City, Pittsburgh or Toledo, to name a few.”

In May 2020, a White Supremacist organization posing as Antifa posted a fake message: “Tonight is the night, Comrades. We move into the residential areas … the White hoods … and we take what’s ours.” #BlackLivesMatter” Twitter took down the fake account, but not before the tweet went viral causing fear and panic on RedState blog. In August, Ted Cruz attempted to re-light that torch with incendiary verbiage, but blew it out with a bombastic delivery of hot air.

Scare the women in white suburbia. Never mind the black citizens who have walked scared for over 200 years. The KKK was organized under the pretense of protecting white women and thousands of black men were hanged as a result.

The BLM movement isn’t about choosing between Police Lives or Black Lives and an American flag is not a symbol of force and oppression. It cannot be captured and flaunted by any one group.

Another black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back a few days ago in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jacob had been attempting to break up a fight between two women and was shot as his three sons aged 3, 5, and 8 looked on.

His mother personified what honor means when she spoke through her grief. “Violence doesn’t reflect my son,” she said. She called for peace in the streets and said that her son had asked that the police officer at his hospital room join he and his mother in prayer. This honorable woman is looking for the promise of equal Liberty and Justice for her son.

Roll up that flag to be a weapon of brute force. Or unfurl that Star Spangled Banner to wave freely and proudly over a country battle-healed and ready to reclaim its God given soul. Because the flag is not a weapon and a Bible is not a prop. The choice begins with votes in every small town across America. It begins and ends right here on the streets of our own Nevada City.

We are still the Land of the Free and those protestors were the Brave.

Cheryl Cook lives in Penn Valley.

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