Cowards of Hennepin County

Apr 03

World Upside Down: The flag of the United Nations, inverted, in the internationally recognized signal of distress. Hennepin County chickens out.

Without firing a shot, the Board of Hennepin County Commissioners has surrendered to the wingnuts in the Minnesota Republican Tea Party, and to Bully Boy Tom Emmer, the right-wing standard bearer who was the 2010 candidate for governor of the Target Corporation. Emmer came within 9,000-or-so votes of winning, but has been relegated since the election to braying into a little-listened-to microphone in the studios of a local AM radio station. It was from that august platform that Emmer and his sidekick waged an Ignoramus Rampage against the presence of the UN flag on the plaza in front of the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis. The blue flag of the UN, they said, was offensive to “some” veterans, and they particularly objected to the fact that the UN flag was flying “at the same level” as Old Glory. In this objection, their braying was woefully ignorant of US flag protocol,  which specifically permits the flags of other nations to be flown at the same height as the American flag: “If the flags of other nations are displayed with the American Flag, they should be of equal size and at equal heights on separate staffs at a time of peace. The American Flag should be displayed to the (flag’s own) right but not higher than other national flags.”

But logic and common sense are not involved when jackasses come to bray: “The issue for me is there shouldn’t be a U.N.! And get rid of the darn flag!,” Emmer screeched. Reason No. 432 why we should be grateful he didn’t win in 2010. The man is an embarrassment to Minnesota, a state which played a prominent role in the establishment of the United Nations and the development of the U.N. Charter. In fact, it was a former Republican governor, the late Harold Stassen, who was instrumental in helping the United States get the United Nations on its feet. Of course, Stassen belongs to the ranks of what I call ODRs — Ordinary Decent Republicans — of a kind that Emmer and his ilk have thrown out of their party as they have crawled deeper into their bunkers along with the Tea Party types who see black helicopters and jackbooted U.N. Storm Troopers in every closet.

(If you want to get a glimpse of the paranoid mentality, check out this YouTube video about Hennepin County’s U.N. flag)


Harold Stassen: An Ordinary Decent Republican, he resigned as Governor in 1943 to serve in the Navy during WWII, then helped establish the United Nations. Tom Emmer couldn’t carry his skivvies.

Another Minnesota connection: Former U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan is a graduate of Macalester College, where the U.N. flag still flies. But the one that has flown outside Hennepin County headquarters for more than 25 years came down last week, with virtually no discussion or notice, because the Hennepin County Board of Cowards folded like a cheap card table when the bullies started braying. Jeff Johnson, the Tea-Party pandering commissioner from the mean streets of Plymouth proposed removing the flag, and the rest of the board hurried to get on the good side of the mouth-breathers, with Commissioners Mark Stenglein and Mike Opat quickly signing on. The U.N. flag was struck down by a unanimous vote, with not a single commissioner having the balls to stand up to the mob. (Opat, the board chair, ended up authoring the resolution, proving that he loves America the most! Or that he has the weakest knees on the board. I am leaning towards the latter: He hid behind his concern that those gosh-darned flag protocols are just too complicated to understand. This is what happens when proto-fascists are ruling the conversation).

What a sad, shameful episode. Minnesota is going backwards faster than I can keep track. And stupidity is winning the day.