Many will tell you that an upside down American flag means “the country is in distress.” The US Flag Code allows this use of the flag in situations of “dire distress,” but the intention was distress as in immediate danger to life and limb, such as your ship is sinking at sea, an SoS signal. It does not explicitly sanction use of the flag in this way at political rallies, where no person or property is in any real immediate distress or danger. This is a political extension of the meaning and therefore not in accordance with the flag code. It is just gratuitous abuse of the flag, in order to express a political message.
If you use a black and white flag, though, it would not be disrespectful to the US flag and would not represent destruction of America, because it would not be the actual US flag. The black color would further symbolize your mourning. Black and white flags are available on Amazon for only about $6. Why not use that instead? It does not send a confusing, potentially, anti-American message and would not be likely to anger veterans.
Definition of “dire”
: very bad : causing great fear or worry
: warning of disaster : showing a very bad future
: requiring immediate action : very urgent
EXAMPLES OF ABUSIVE FLAG USE
Nazis, the KKK and other such subversive groups have long been flying the flag upside down as a symbol of their goal of overturning the current constitutional republican system. Symbols often have dual meanings, one that is told to the general public and another subversive meaning, known to a smaller group of insiders.
Inverting a symbol normally means the negation or destruction of that which the symbol represents. So, an inverted American flag is ambiguous and can either represent a SoS signal of distress or a symbol of opposition and destruction of the system. It can have both meanings to different people at the same time. So, there is a possibility for an inverted American flag to be used to send a covert signal.
The image below, from the documentary “Nazis in America: A Secret History,” was taken in 1999 at Richard Butler’s Aryan Nation compound in Couer d’Alene, Idaho. (Click the photo below to go to the documentary.) Notice the Nazi flag is higher than the original American colonial (Betsy Ross) flags, some of them inverted. Butler taught that the Founders had established an Aryan nation. So, in this case, the meaning of the inverted flag can be taken to be the Aryan Nation is in distress. To non-insiders, it could mean the American republic is in distress.
It was the Nazis/KKK, who started using the flag in this way. Some Tea Partiers have evidently copied it and started abusing the flag themselves in this way. At best, it is a confusing and obnoxious symbol that associates the user with Nazis, communists and anarchists. It is an odd form of protest that provokes mostly veterans and patriots, not Obama supporters or leftists. It does not bother Obama and his supporters at all, if his opponents abuse the American flag in their protests. They do not respect the flag, either.
Of course, most Tea Partiers are not intentionally abusing the flag, but it is still disrespectful of the flag to use it for a narrow political cause. Fly the flag with respect in a way that cannot be misinterpreted and assigned perverse meaning or don’t fly it at all. The flag is the symbol of our Nation and should not be cheapened by using it to send your own personal messages. Why would any true American patriot want to use the very same symbol, of which there is a long-standing tradition of its use as a symbol of anti-Americanism and the destruction of America???
If you are using the same symbol as anti-American Jihadists, illegal-immigration advocates, Mexican nationalist reconquistas, communist occupiers, Klansmen and Neo-Nazis, maybe you should re-consider your choice of symbols?
VETERANS REACT TO UPSIDE DOWN FLAGS
Warning: Profuse use of profane language.
If you don’t want to be chased down by a US Marine and combat veteran, just do not abuse the flag by flying it upside down. Too many saw their friends and fellow soldiers die or be horribly wounded fighting for what that flag symbolizes.