November 26, 2008


I just heard this story on the radio and wondered what you think of it:

Jeff Russo says the decline of the textile industry left his family business, Greenville Industrial Rubber & Gasket Co. Inc., with about $1.5 million less in annual revenue.

So he can't understand why the federal government is now spending billions of dollars of taxpayer money to bail out financial-services firms and, possibly, domestic auto makers.

Russo was so upset by the government bailouts that he started flying the U.S. flag upside down outside of his business on Poinsett Highway as a protest. Russo said he got no objections for about a month. Then a veteran complained, and a local TV station aired a report about his gesture, and he got a slew of e-mails and voice mails.

Tuesday, Russo said he loves his country and turned the flag upside down -- a sign of distress -- because he's concerned for its future.

"The government never once bailed the textile industry out. You're talking hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in this area, including my company. We lost a million and a half dollars a year," Russo said.

"You know what the government told us? Re-educate yourself. Go after new markets. They didn't give us a bailout. I'm trying to represent every small businessman in the country. We don't get bailouts. We're responsible for our business, our employees. The buck stops here. They never have given us a bailout, never will give us a bailout, and we are the backbone of this country.

"By doing this I think I am a patriot," Russo said. "I love this country, and I don't want to see it go down the tubes."

From The Flag Code:

(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

In searching for the article, I found other examples of upside down flags:

  • "discontent about not having a VA hospital in the Rio Grande Valley" [here]
  • "to show they didn't agree with the way the presidential election was conducted" [here]
  • "unhappy with the results of the presidential election and the general state of the U.S." [here]

And these are all just from this month!

Some veterans have apparently complained in each case, saying it's disrespectful to the flag and not the distress signal that was intended in the flag code.

What do you think?

Personally, if I had heard any of the other three stories I bulletted, I wouldn't have bothered to write this post. But that first story really intrigues me.

Posted by Sarah at November 26, 2008 03:06 PM | TrackBack

I understand the sentiment, because I do feel that our country's foundation has been completely tunneled out from underneath us over the last century. But I don't think I would do it. It garners attention, but it doesn't persuade anyone, and it offends those who might otherwise agree with you... our manner is important, too. Just my $.02!

Posted by: kannie at November 26, 2008 04:29 PM

Thanks to Sarah for posting this. I've read about this flag inversion phenomenon elsewhere and I'm interested to see how your readers react to it.

I agree completely with kannie.

I also agree with Russo's viewpoint, though I disagree with his action.

I don't mean to deny the very real problems that we face, but it irritates me to see everything blown up into a crisis:

"Crisis is the condition that validates and sustains the leftist collectivist moral code. The left needs crisis and disasters to survive and continue the orthodoxy. Therefore, where is the left, will always be crisis. Artificially created if need be, and victims written off as collateral damage in struggle for 'greater good'. Examples of artificial crises in America are the results of 'heroic struggle' by 'progressive politicians': energy, housing, immigration, outsourcing... Crises can also be entirely imaginary: ozone holes, man-made global warming, overpopulation, exhaustion of resources -- and on the political front it's Bush's 'dictatorship', 'erosion of liberties in America', 'illegal wiretapping',' torture', 'imperialist invasions of other countries', and 'controlled explosion of the World Trade Center'."

Yes, things are bad, and they may get worse. Yet Russo is hardly in "dire distress." He doesn't have to board the "ark" yet.

This Thanksgiving, Americans should be grateful that their country is still functioning, even thriving. If you can read this, you are still better off than your illiterate ancestors who lacked our technology. We should appreciate what we have without becoming complacent. We shouldn't cry wolf. Otherwise who will listen to us when a real crisis looms?

Posted by: Amritas at November 26, 2008 08:44 PM

I agree with the above comments. While I agree with Russo that the bailout mania has likely been a bad move on the part of our government, I do not think that Russo is in the "dire distress" for which the Flag Code is intended. His company has lost revenue and employees, but he is still living, still working. I think I also disagree with the other situations you listed for flying the flag upside down; they may be upset, but there is no immediate threat; the "distress" they suffer is hardly enough to warrant such symbolism.

And I agree with Kannie that in a large part that doing so for things like this can easily become just a ploy to gain attention for a person's "cause" instead of the actual purpose for which the flag code was meant.

Posted by: Leofwende at December 1, 2008 03:40 PM