The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ugly rebel yell in front of the White House

Michael Ashmore of Hooks, Tex. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

If you want to curdle the blood of an African American and send a message of menace without resorting to burning a cross on the lawn or marching around in white sheets all one need do is wave the Confederate flag. So imagine my revulsion at the sight of one outside the front gates of the White House.

Michael Ashmore of Hooks, Tex., was among the many who converged on Washington for the “Million Vet March on the Memorials” to protest the government shutdown. This was the event where former half-term governor reality television star and best-selling author turned conservative gadfly Sarah Palin said, “Our vets have proven that they have not been timid, so we will not be timid in calling out any who would use our military, our vets, as pawns in a political game.” Applauding her self-awareness would be the height of irony — and sarcasm.

The protest and some of the barricades placed at the World War II Memorial then moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. And it was there that Ashmore waved his Confederate flag. A symbol of Southern resistance and white supremacy unfurled in front of the home of the first black president of the United States. As Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg View and the Atlantic correctly said on Twitter yesterday, “In many parts of America, waving a Confederate flag outside the home of a black family would be considered a very hostile act.”

Ashmore’s reprehensible rebel yell wasn’t the only offensive thing to happen yesterday. In front of the World War II Memorial, Freedom Watch founder Larry Klayman said, “I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up.”

Ashmore’s actions and Klayman’s words are just the latest in a series of  displays of disrespect directed at President Obama. For more than four years, the president’s detractors have said they “want our country back.” But they never say from whom. They continue to say he should be impeached. But they never say what his “crimes” or, if they do, said “crimes” are not grounded in any kind of reality.

For those of you who would push back by saying we’re overreacting, that the Confederate flag is nothing more than a symbol of regional pride, save it. That flag you revere so much is no better than a Swastika, a threatening symbol of hate that has no place in American political discourse.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj