What The Flags We Fly Say About Us


You probably don’t need to be a fan of the National Football League to recognize the flag flying in my neighbor’s yard. Not the American flag–the flag of the Washington Football Team formerly known as the Washington Redskins.

After decades of protests against the name being a slur against Native Americans, and team owner Daniel Snyder saying “We’ll never change the name . . . It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps”, last year Snyder finally relented and retired the name and logo.

Not everyone was offended by the name “Redskins.” Some Native Americans supported the name. Public opinion polls were largely split on whether the name was offensive. So why did Daniel Snyder finally decide that “Redskins” was no longer appropriate?

It wasn’t a cultural awakening. It wasn’t even the years of protests, although the tipping point did come following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent removal of many names and images deemed offensive or racist.

In the end, it was a business decision. FedEx, which owns the naming rights to the stadium, was subject to boycotts and requested the team change its name. Amazon, Nike, Target, and Walmart were pressured and ended up removing Redskins merchandise from their stores and websites.

So why is my neighbor still flying the old flag with its Redskins logo? We can guess. Because they are big fans of the team, of course, and because of heritage (see: Confederate flag flyers), but also likely as a protest of his own against the “woke mob” and “cancel culture.”

My neighbor is a nice guy. I see him or his wife and kids walking their dog. I’ve been to a party at their house a bunch of years ago. But I’d like to ask him what the hell he’s doing. Although, what good would that do?

He probably didn’t like me flying my American flag upside down as an international sign of distress after Trump was elected in 2016 or when Mitch McConnell shoved through Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court justice just before the 2020 election after Ruth Bader Ginsberg died. He probably didn’t like my Black Lives Matter sign. Or my rainbow poster in my living room window.

What I think I’ll do is sneak over one night and cut the flag down, burn it, and leave the ashes on his doorstep. On second thought, no. The guy is a judge. I’ll end up arrested and have to appear before him. It would end ugly, as a lot of these spats do.

P.S. I hate that team. They beat my Bills in the Super Bowl way back when.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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