The Flag of Controversy

THE NATION’S BANNER IS A SYMBOL
THAT EVOKES STRONG FEELINGS

Our nation’s flag — the “Stars and Stripes,” “Old Glory,” “Star Spangled Banner”: call it what you will — has been associated with controversy for at least as long as I can remember. I’m old enough to recall the raised eyebrows that greeted insertion of the phrase, “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance back in the early 1950s.

Flag BabyDuring the next decade, flag burning as a means of protesting the Vietnam War was extremely contentious. So much so that it prompted revival of long-ignored state anti-desecration laws passed in the 1800s along with enactment of a federal statute making it a crime to “knowingly cast contempt upon any flag of the United States by publicly mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning, or trampling upon it.”

A 1989 Supreme Court decision struck down those anti-desecration laws in the name of free political expression. But by then it had become commonplace to integrate stars-and-stripes imagery into clothing — often in the most immodest ways — and render the flag in other less-than-respectful applications (an unfortunate trend that continues).

Anti-U.S. demonstrations overseas always include the requisite burning of an American flag or some (often primitive) representation of it. And flying the flag upside down, a nautical signal for distress, is done frequently as a sign of protest or rejection.

Disrespect for the flag was in the news again recently.

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Revisiting the Crucifixion

THERE WERE EARTHLY REASONS
BEHIND THE DEATH OF JESUS

3rd StationThe crucifixion of Christ is a pivotal event that changed the religious and cultural trajectory of the world. Yet, it’s something a lot of people have trouble grasping.

To non-believers — and even some believers — it doesn’t really make sense. They ask very reasonable questions like…

“Why would anybody want to kill someone who went around preaching love and offering a lot of uplifting homilies? And healing the sick to boot! What’s not to like about all that?”

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The Netanyahu Prophesy

DO THE PRIME MINISTER’S WORDS
PORTEND A GRIM FUTURE?

I once had a neighbor who was an Ethiopian princess.

Belonging to the Makonnen royal family, she was a relative of the late Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. She had studied at Hillsdale College, met and married an American, and settled in Michigan. Her kids used to play in our yard sometimes.

NetanyahuThat former neighbor — or more properly, her illustrious ancestor — came to mind while I was watching Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address Congress Tuesday. I couldn’t help thinking of how Haile Selassie had passionately addressed the League of Nations in 1936 to condemn fascist Italian aggression against Ethiopia.

The emperor had specific charges about horrors being unleashed upon his people, in particular Italy’s use of chemical weapons. Begging for international assistance, he declared to the ambassadors assembled in Geneva…

“God and history will remember your judgment.”

History remembers that the League of Nations did nothing. But Haile Selassie’s speech, a cri de coeur in the truest sense, is now recalled as prophetic. It was, in essence, a warning to the world of greater horrors yet to come.

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R.I.P., Leonard Nimoy

MEMORIES OF A FEW HOURS SPENT
WITH A FRIENDLY AND SHY MAN

During the three years of its run, “Stark Trek” was a not-to-miss highlight of my Friday night TV-viewing schedule.

I’m talkin’ the real “Star Trek” — no holodeck, no friendly Klingons — the classic, original “Star Trek”: Captain Kirk, tacky sets, hokey alien monsters and all.

Nimoy as SpockNow my wife and I catch old episodes Saturday nights on MeTV.

This week’s is especially poignant, since Leonard Nimoy, the immortal Mr. Spock, passed away Friday morning at age 83.

He’s the third of the Enterprise’s key officers to die. DeForrest Kelley (Ship’s Surgeon Dr. Leonard McCoy) departed in 1999, and James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott) in 2005.

It was Nimoy’s post-“Star Trek” directorial work that brought me into contact with him. As I noted in my post of August 10, 2014, he participated in a conference on moral values in popular entertainment which I’d helped to organize at Hillsdale College. I picked him up at Detroit Metro Airport and drove him the nearly 100 miles to campus.

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