GOP doubles down on racism, homophobia with ‘Old Glory Only Act’

“Old Glory Only Act,” one of the Republican majority’s first legislative priorities in the U.S. House of Representatives would prohibit flags other than the American flag from being flown over U.S. diplomatic and consular posts. 

“Old Glory Only Act,” sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), is nothing but a tired reminder that the GOP has no real plan for improving American lives and instead is doubling down on exclusionary, racist, and homophobic rhetoric. 

The GOP claims the Old Glory Only Act remedies (what they call) the politicization of U.S. embassies during the Biden administration, which has allowed Pride and Black Lives Matter flags to be flown from U.S. embassies. 

“Our beautiful flag, Old Glory, should be the only flag flying and representing our country over our diplomatic and consular posts worldwide,” Duncan said in a press release. “The American flag is a beacon of liberty, and no other flag or symbol better portrays our shared values than the Stars and Stripes.”

“It is important to ensure that Old Glory only is flown at American embassies to represent our ideals abroad,” Duncan said. 

My question for Duncan and his colleagues that support this legislation is: Which ideals? Have we reached a level of openly embracing discrimination in the U.S. to the point that we are going to pretend that Americans, U.S. citizens and residents aren’t Black? Queer? SGL? 

At the heart of it, the bill seeks to permanently ground the Pride flag and Black Lives Matter flag for the very same reason that these two flags were first approved to be flown at U.S. embassies during the Obama administration — the U.S. flag is not automatically seen as inclusive of those communities. Old Glory’s “shared values” could represent all Americans at some point in the future, sure, but this is not the Old Glory we fly today. The flying of the Pride flag and Black Lives Matter flag sends a critical message when those communities of people aren’t represented by the American flag and should be.

The GOP is intentionally hailing a flag whose 50 stars and 13 stripes represent states that are actively waging violent, exclusionary campaigns to strip non-white and LGBTQ residents of their rights and safety. In some states, the question of representation has become regressive to the point that state legislatures have passed dress codes so restrictive that some state representatives can easily be prevented from performing their duties to constituents because of the representative’s gender identity and attire.

And the argument that any flag other than the American flag is politicization of American embassies clearly missed the history lesson on the establishment of this country, whose beginnings are rooted in genocide, enslavement, theft, and lies.

The GOP was the first to dehumanize Black and LGBTQ people by attempting to politicize their right to exist. And the Old Glory Only Act joins the same dehumanizing discourse as Republicans’ unsubstantiated claims about bathrooms and drag queen story hours as the GOP continues to shove Christian nationalism down the throats of all who refuse to swallow their poison.

For politicians like Duncan, the only liberty in this country is for those whose complexion, gender identity, and sexual orientation passes the GOP’s litmus test of humanity. 

How can LGBTQ people have the right to liberty in a country that threatens healthcare providers for providing trans affirming healthcare or the right for two same-gender people to marry? 

How can Black people have the right to liberty in a country where white murderers go free for unjustly taking Black lives and 33 out of 50 states still allow for Black people to lose their livelihoods for their hair texture and styles?

Let’s be clear: There is nothing glorious about Old Glory or its representation of the failed experiment that is America. 

Brandie Blade is a journalism student at the University of Maryland and a Blade Foundation fellow.