I’m Upside Down


During the Battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861, Major Robert Anderson, the Union commander, ordered the U.S. flag to be flown upside down to signal dire distress and to request assistance as Confederate forces were bombarding the fort. 

More recently, the upside-down flag has been used in protests to express dissatisfaction with government policies or actions, symbolizing a belief that the country is in peril. Vietnam War protestors flew the flag upside down. I once hung my flag upside down to express my feeling that our country was in extreme peril. I can’t remember if I did it in 2016 after Trump got elected, or after an impeachment vote went sideways, or when a Supreme Court justice was fraudulently named. I definitely did it during Trump’s presidency—I know that much.

Of course, I’ll never fly the flag upside down again now that esteemed Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito flew it that way (I mean his wife did, but Alito says he can’t control his wife, although he can control yours if she wants body autonomy), and now that the right-wing, stop-the-steal maga crowd have adopted upside down as their banner.

I don’t know if current conditions are worse than ever in our country, or if I just happen to be living during a pretty shitty moment for our nation, or if corporate-controlled media is fucking me over. I feel like both a victim and a perpetrator of the polarized chaos we see and hear daily. I read the headlines and my stomach turns. I’m pissed off at anyone that has anything good to say about Trump. I harbor ridiculous fantasies of punching out Samuel Alito or Clarence Thomas or a dozen other dudes I hate.

I’m not proud of how I let it get to me.

Example: I have a nice measured two-mile route I like to run through my neighborhood. But my run takes me past a house where the big yard banners are out: “Trump 2024.” “Trump Won—I Know It and You Know It.” “Let’s Go Brandon.” And I wonder: How can people believe this shit?

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

It’s not just this one neighbor. On Memorial Day, the morning of our town’s annual parade, someone raised a Trump flag in front of the post office. No one took responsibility. I’ve heard of no investigation. The flag was quickly taken down.

At my local post office!

The rational choice would be to adjust my running route and save myself the agitation of seeing those Trump banners. But I’m fascinated, like a rubbernecker. I keep running past, checking out the house and yard. I don’t see anyone. Occasionally there’s a green Chevrolet in the driveway. Finally, one day, the owner is dragging a branch to the curb as I run past.

This is my opportunity to stop and have a chat, to ask this fellow what he believes in and why, and to try to understand his point of view. I can display some of that empathy I claim to possess. But no, I can’t. I don’t want to. There’s nothing to be learned. So I shout out, “Trump’s a loser!” The guy looks at me and shouts back, “Oh, yeah?” I keep running, a little disgusted with myself for stooping to that level.

This Trump cult and upside-down flag business is making me feel upside down.

By David Klein

David Klein

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


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