To honor the victims of the Orlando massacre, President Obama sent out the following:
As a mark of respect for the victims of the act of hatred and terror perpetrated on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds.
They are supposed to remain at half-staff until Thursday. But two Republican commissioners in Cole County, Missouri decided that it would better to play politics with such a solemn duty and leave their flags up, instead. And the excuse is flimsy at best:
Although Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman thought flags should be lowered, Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle and Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher believe the county should be as consistent as possible when events occur that call for the flag to be lowered, and they oppose the lowering of the flags at this time.
“We (the commission) still have control over how the flags are displayed,” Hoelscher said. “Lowering it too much takes away from the honor. I feel for these victims and for their families, but I don’t feel this was a time for the flag to be lowered.
As ThinkProgress points out, the Orlando shooting is the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 and the worst domestic terrorist attack since the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. It’s not entirely clear how this doesn’t qualify as a national tragedy worthy of respect and the two Republicans were unable or unwilling to give a specific reason:
Scheperle said: “I want to honor those who have served our country, but we can’t lower it for every event like this that occurs. I do feel for those who were gunned down, but I don’t think it warrants lowering the flag.
Since the shooting, Republicans have been doing what Republicans do after EVERY mass murder: Looking for any and every excuse to downplay the severity of the horror. Some have declared that the whole thing is a false flag operation to allow the government to “take our guns” and declare martial law. Others have refused to acknowledge it was a hate crime directed at the LGBT community. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee took a victory lap before the bodies were even cold, congratulating himself on “being right” about Muslims even though there’s every indication that the killer was himself gay and motivated by self-loathing instead of religion.
What we’re seeing in Missouri is just an extension of the GOP’s need to overlook their own role in flooding our streets with guns while at the same time creating a toxic culture of hate directed at the LGBT community. It’s shameful but no longer shocking from the Party of Trump.
After a huge backlash from Missouri’s LGBT community and the ACLU, the two Republican commissioners decided this was not a battle they were going to win and reversed their decision.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images