The flag

From “Know Your Place: Helping White, Southern Evangelicals Cope with the End of The(ir) World” by Justin R. Phillips

Whiteness connects itself to patriotism and its symbols, because American values are held to be universal. The flag and the anthem represent the life provided for all Americans, but because America is not experienced equally, these values are not expressed in the same way. Whites, however, believing their experiences to be the norm, take on the role of enforcing expressions of American values, which in effect makes them white values. This enforcement of supposed appropriate patriotism was expressed by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees during the summer 2020 protests: “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag.” Brees attributed his reverence for the flag in honor of his two grandfathers, both of whom fought in World War II, “risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place.” Bree’s limited view of history, though, was countered by his Black teammate Malcolm Jenkins, who noted how Americans held different understandings of patriotic symbols. Neither Brees, nor any veteran’s ancestor, was the arbiter or protector of patriotic orthopraxy, because in Jenkins’s words, “when our grandfathers fought for this country and served and they came back, they didn’t come back to a hero’s welcome. They came back and got attacked for wearing their uniforms. They came back to people, to racism, to complete violence.” Brees quickly apologized and vowed to learn more.