Fresh off her replacement of Rep. Liz Cheney as House GOP Conference chairwoman, Rep. Elise Stefanik is cosponsoring a bill to prevent U.S. embassies from hoisting “political” flags, which would include the Black Lives Matter banner.
The Stars and Stripes Act is a direct response to Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent cable to chiefs of mission, obtained by Foreign Policy, that grants “blanket written authorization” to display such flags and banners. It’s not a requirement but rather an encouragement to display the flags as “appropriate in light of local conditions,” a spokesperson said.
The GOP House bill calls for a ban on flags at diplomatic and consular posts with few exceptions including the U.S. flag, state flags and flags of host countries.
Lead sponsor Rep. Nicole Malliotakis condemned the State Department’s encouragement to fly “inherently political flags that are in no way affiliated” with the U.S. government.
In a press release on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, she said the authorization was “an insult to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our flag and our nation.”
Malliotakis rattled off a list of past and present “partisan political demands and initiatives” by the Black Lives Matter organization, including former President Trump’s impeachment and permanent ban from social media platforms, defunding the police and expelling Republican members of Congress who “voted against the certification of electors” for Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Stefanik got a quote in the press release by her fellow New York congresswoman: saying the U.S. should not fly “the flag of a political organization founded by Marxists.”
California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, another cosponsor, said the Biden administration has an “emphatic misunderstanding of what this nation represents in every corner of the globe” if it wants to display unrelated banners “when the mood strikes.”
Mississippi GOP Rep. Michael Guest struck a conciliatory tone.
“The death of George Floyd,” the anniversary of which prompted Blinken’s move, “opened important discussions surrounding police reform in the United States,” he said in the press release.
“I encourage every American to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and to continue civil dialogue around this matter,” Guest continued. “However, these discussions should not be aired out on an international stage.”