This was a can of worms. I will attempt to pack the slimy things back in and seal it up nicely without getting any slime on me. Many good points were made. Isn’t open debate wonderful?
First, my assessment of the situation.
There is undeniably a lot of antipathy in the United States towards Mexican immigrants. No need to open a new can of worms with a lengthy explanation. But Canadians aren’t immigrating by the hundreds of thousands, and even if they were, it wouldn’t be very apparent, given their language, customs, and complexion.
Having said that, I personally love the contributions of Mexican culture to our own. I just enjoyed a scrumptious meal of: one beef enchilada, one taco, and some strange potato dish that claimed to be part of the Mexican fare. That meal-—a refreshing change at the Camp Bondsteel D-FAC—-would have been unlikely but for the Mexican influence in the United States.
Alright, first is the point oft-made that Army Soldiers should pay homage to one flag. Agreed. But flying another doesn’t have to take away from the fidelity rendered to Old Glory, does it? The real issue behind some of the comments is that of sameness.
Army leaders—-leaders of any organization, for that matter, but especially Army types—-can’t stand individuality. They want to look over their dominions and say, “what a nice, tidy, uniform bunch of people I have.”
Anytime a leader makes a general rule to address a specific situation, he is overreaching and overreacting.
Better the attitude, I think, to (pardon the bumper sticker phrase) “celebrate diversity.” A leader should be saying, “Look here, I have 1500 troops that represent dozens of cultures, religions, language preferences, and sports teams, and we are all in unity as to the mission.
“Unity of Effort,” is, in fact, one of KFOR’s mottoes. Not “Unity of Thought” or “Unity of Appearance.”
Some in the Army can’t get past their fetish for conformity in appearance. The uniform is one thing, but there are many who can’t stand anything that deviates from their preferences or point of view.
So the Soldier who wants the Mexican flag taken down may be the most patriotic person in the force, and he may have friends who have died in combat, and he may send his grandmother flowers every week. But he’s the same guy who wants me trim back my bushes because they’re unsightly, or wants me to wash my car more often because it makes the neighborhood look trashy, or wants me to wear a tie to church because he doesn’t want others to get the impression that we all, God forbid, think differently.
Flying a flag of your choice doesn’t impede the mission.
Let’s not confuse tacky with right. It may be tacky to fly a Mexican flag. Hell, I live in downtown Oakland—not exactly the most military-friendly locale in the state—and fly an Army flag from my front porch. Most of my neighbors, and the radicals who pass by my busy street daily, think that’s tacky. Let ‘em.
I think Army leaders would be more comfortable if Mexican flags weren’t flown, and they wouldn’t have to worry about it. It’s reminiscent of a dialogue from the should-be classic The Breakup.
Vince Vaugn’s character: “Do you want me to do the dishes?”
Jennifer Anistons’ character: “I want you to want to do the dishes.”
Instead of trying to enforce a cult-like fanaticism of their preference for “Unity of Appearance,” they should spend a little time instilling the values that lead one to want to fly the American Flag. Then they can worry about regulating its size, fabric, etc.
So here’s a recap:
Should a U.S. Soldier be allowed to fly a Mexican flag from his porch on a forward military base? YES
What if the flag was Canadian or British? YES and YES
Should the command craft a policy letter prohibiting offending flags? NO
How would you deem which flags are prohibited, given the fact that the forward base is home to seven NATO nations? WHATEVER IS IN EXISTING MILITARY CODE: HATE GROUPS ETC., WOULD BE BANNED
Would state flags be subject to the same regulations? What about athletic team flags? EVERYTHING GOES, EXCEPT FOR THE LAKERS AND YANKEES