OTHER VOICES: Far left insults our country and cops

In a veritable hate crime against law enforcement, left-wing protesters took down a “Blue Lives Matter” American flag on July 12. They spray painted it with “Abolish ICE,” then raised it upside-down to the top of a flagpole outside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Aurora.

The activists took down a standard American flag and replaced it with the flag of Mexico. All this to express disapproval of anticipated enforcement of court-ordered deportations.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, campaigning for president among a far-left Democratic lineup, had the opportunity to stand up for cops, his country, “peaceable” assembly and the rule of law during a Sunday interview on Fox News just days later. There was just one problem. The protesters comprise a portion of his party’s far-left base. He and other leading Democrats are hesitant to issue unqualified denunciations of the protest tactics.

“Is that something that, as a moderate, needs to be condemned?” asked host Leland Vittert of the flag desecration.

We expected our old friend to express disgust with the protest. It was atrocious behavior and that’s all he needed to say.

“I certainly respect the American flag,” Hickenlooper said. “In my whole life I have been fighting to make this country and to make sure that this country welcomes everyone and that the flag represents everyone. I’m old enough I remember when people were burning the flag in protest of the Vietnam War. The amazing thing about this country is we are the one place on Earth, or one of the few places on Earth, where that level of freedom of speech is still protected so I may not approve of it, but I think that that freedom is something we as Americans should recognize and say, ‘Hey, that’s part of our core freedom.’ “

Sure, we have the right to disrespect the flag. We also have the right to wear swastikas and stage Klan rallies. We can support the right of free speech while condemning hateful messages.

Vittert gave Hickenlooper another chance to condemn the malicious tactics, almost talking him through it.

“There is a way to say I defend your right to do it, but I find the behavior abhorrent,” Vittert said. “Are you willing to say that doing that and ripping down the American flag over a facility in running up the Mexican flag is wrong? Doesn’t send the right message? Is not what is going to unite us as you say is so important?”

Hickenlooper deflected again, declining to condemn the far-left affront to law enforcement and our flag.

“I think there are better ways to unite us, there is no question about that,” Hickenlooper said. “You will find all kinds of things that — it’s not a question of whether you are progressive or a moderate I feel like the progressive things that we’ve accomplished in Colorado are very — I’m an extreme moderate they are very progressive.”

“Extreme moderate” is an oxymoron — a contradiction in terms — which symbolizes Hickenlooper’s campaign. He is a moderate, reasonable Democrat mired in a field of crazy. His party has drifted so far left he obviously fears the repercussions of an impassioned defense of the flag and our law enforcement community.

The organizer of the July 12 protest, by stark contrast, minced no words in condemning the flag abuse. She intended a peaceful protest that might win hearts and minds, but rogue radicals took over the event.

“It was disgusting and shameful,” said Claudia Castillo, a military veteran and legal services coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, as quoted in The Denver Post. “They have compromised our movement, and they stole the spotlight and endangered our undocumented people.”

We emailed U.S. Rep. Jason Crow’s staff a few days after the protest to ask how the congressman feels about the July 12 Flag desecration.

“I condemn the desecration of the American flag,” wrote Crow, a former Army Ranger. “I fought to defend our flag and the values it represents. To deny the dignity and decency of people in detention is an affront to those values. I support the peaceful protesters who were there to raise awareness of conditions at immigration detention centers and thank the Aurora police for their professionalism at the event.”

Colorado’s Democratic Gov. Jared Polis condemned the behavior when confronted with the question on Twitter. Like Crow, he quickly deflected to detention concerns.

“Of course I condemn the desecration of our flag, who wouldn’t?” Polis tweeted. “Now will you condemn the ongoing and even more serious offense to our flag and values of putting children in cages and tearing families apart?”

Yes, we condemn the border crisis, all that goes with it and those who caused it. Congress created this tragedy by failing to enact immigration reform and adequately fund border security. Their negligence makes our border an attractive hazard and the site of a growing humanitarian crisis. Former President Barack Obama, whose administration built the cages for children, warned Latin American parents to keep their children away from our border so this would not happen.

“Do not send your children to the border,” Obama implored in the summer of 2014. “If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.”

Immigrants risk their lives breaking into this country because they want everything our flag represents. They want jobs, liberty and prosperity. All of the above require rule of law and the men and women who provide it.

Left-wing activists have the right to desecrate flags, insult our country and undermine cops. Rational politicians have a responsibility to denounce this idiotic use of free speech.

— Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board