PolitiFact fact-checked a recent Facebook post that claimed that Trump used an anti-Black Lives Matter flag instead of an American flag as a backdrop at a recent rally and determined the claim was “mostly true.”
The post was made by a group called “The Other 98%” and featured a tweet by Jeff Sharlet, an author and Dartmouth College professor. Sharlet claimed it was “significant” that the Thin Blue Line flag had gained greater prominence at Trump rallies and had replaced the American flag. Facebook marked the post for a fact-check.
It is true that the Thin Blue Line flag served as the backdrop for Trump’s October 24 rally in Waukesha, Wisc. There were other American flags displayed at the rally as well. Reading Sharlet’s tweets in the thread and other tweets makes it clear that he thinks this is part of an insidious nationalist movement by Trump.
Is the flag an “anti-Black Lives Matter” flag? Andrew Jacob, president of Thin Blue Line USA, said, “The flag has no association with racism, hatred, bigotry. It’s a flag to show support for law enforcement, no politics involved.”
The flag was created in 2014 as a response to the Black Lives Matter protests and riots that first began in 2013. Since that time, there has been increased violence against police officers, and the flag is flown to support the “Blue Lives Matter” movement, meaning that the lives of police officers are also important.
President Trump has been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, but that does not necessarily mean the Thin Blue Line flag is an anti-Black Lives Matter flag. PolitiFact is accurate in saying it is “mostly true” that the Thin Blue Line flag served as the backdrop at his rally and that many do consider it to be in opposition to Black Lives Matter. The speculative charge that this somehow signifies a dangerous nationalist movement and a push to replace the American flag was not addressed by PolitiFact.
The idea that a pro-police flag is anti-Black Lives Matter says more about the Black Lives Matter movement than it does about Trump. It is possible to be for the police and against police brutality. You can also be against police brutality but not support the overarching goals of the Black Lives Matter organization, which was founded by trained Marxists who have called for the dissolution of the nuclear family. If voicing the opinion that the lives of police officers also matter and that police and the families of the fallen deserve support equates to being anti-Black Lives Matter, then by that logic, the Black Lives Matter organization could also be seen as explicitly anti-police and that they believe that the lives of all police officers, including those who are black, are not equally important.
Others object to the Thin Blue Line flag on the grounds that it violates the U.S. Flag Code. The Flag Code does state that the American flag “should never have placed upon it, nor any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.” Some say that changing the colors of the flag, and placing the blue line on it, desecrates the flag.
The Thin Blue Line flag does not alter an existing American flag nor has anyone ever claimed that is the American flag. However, it is possible to interpret the Flag Code to mean that the Thin Blue Line flag is in violation. If this were the case, though, the millions of everyday items that include the likeness of the American flag or aspects of it — including tee shirts, masks, and hats — should also be considered a violation.
It is clear that the Thin Blue Line flag does not intend to disrespect the flag or the country it represents but to show respect for it and for law enforcement and the important role they play in our country and communities.
As with too many issues in today’s divided America, how someone sees the Blue Lives Matter flag is a matter of perspective.