During the assault on the US Capitol on January 6th, videos showed rioters carrying several variants of the American flag. They all had stars, they all had stripes, but my sense was that none of the flags symbolized the wholesome Americana of apple pie, baseball, fireworks, and backyard barbecues. I did a little research and this is what I found:
Upside Down American flag
The official United States flag flown upside down.
Presumably, people fly the American flag upside down because they feel the country is in need of rescue. The US Flag Code stipulates that flags can only be flown upside down in cases of “dire distress and extreme danger to life or property.”
Betsy Ross flag
What is it?
This US flag was designed in 1777 by Philadelphia upholsterer Betsy Ross. It has thirteen stripes and a circle of 13 stars in the corner, representing colonies that fought for independence during the American Revolution.
It is used by some extremist groups as an emblem of a more traditional America.
Three Percenters flag
This US flag is similar to the Betsy Ross flag, with thirteen stripes and a circle of 13 stars in the corner. Inside the circle of stars is the Roman numeral three.
Three Percenters are a militia movement that advocates gun ownership and resistance to federal government involvement in local affairs. The name derives from the erroneous claim that only 3% of Americans fought for independence during the American Revolution.
Thin Blue Line flag
What is it?
This flag’s Stars and Stripes are black and white with a blue line through the center.
Why do people fly it?
The thin blue line refers to the concept of the police as the line which keeps society from descending into violence. It is flown as a symbol of police solidarity but has been adapted more recently by white supremacists.
South Carolina Navy flag
This flag was used by South Carolinian naval fleets during the American Revolution and the Civil War, it features a rattlesnake against a field of 13 stripes and the words “Don’t tread on me.”
Why do people fly it?
This flag and others like it became widely used in 2009 as a protest symbol by the Tea Party movement. “Don’t tread on me” flags continue to be a symbol of far-right ideology.
This flag has diagonal blue stripes and white stars on a field of red.
The Confederate battle flag was flown during the Civil War by the 11 states that supported secession from the United States and the continuation of slavery. While some groups claim it represents Southern heritage, it is widely considered a symbol of white supremacy.
This flag has red, white, and blue stripes, white stars, and a stylized lion in the center.
The symbol of the VDare organization, an alt-right, white nationalist group that opposes immigration to the US. The name refers to Virginia Dare, the first child born to English settlers in the 16th century. Originally the symbol in the center was a white doe representing Ms. Dare. It was changed to a lion motif based on a quote from Benito Mussolini that Donald Trump tweeted in 2016: “Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”
An American flag with the black letter Q set over the stripes. Some include the acronym WWG1WGA, which stands for “where we go one we go all.”
QAnon is an online conspiracy theory whose adherents believe they are leading a crusade against politicians, celebrities, and executives who worship Satan and abduct children to harvest their blood for a chemical used to extend their lives. The group follows cryptic messages and instructions from an anonymous person known as Q.
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