I just had an argument about current events with the woman who keeps my house clean and fixes delicious food.
I couldn’t be happier.
After nearly 20 years of marriage, I’ve got to admit it was unexpected. It was like having a repressed sexual fantasy finally play out. She and I can agree on most things with laser-like precision. Sometimes it really, really, really pisses me off. I’m in full, pumped-out chest with righteous rage about an issue only to find she completely agrees. We disagree on things we agree on, but it’s more like arguing who more dedicated. Which is like arguing which cookie tastes better, when they both taste good.
Dagmar and I, and the thousands of commenters on websites that carry the story, vehemently disagree about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision to lower the American flag to half-staff in honor of Whitney Houston.
Fortunately, unlike on the internet, Dagmar hasn’t called me a racist, a Nazi or an asshole (well, not in reference to this particular issue anyway).
But there should no argument. Christie has every right to lower the state’s flag even if it doesn’t make this decision a good one. Christie also has every right to make an (even bigger) ass of himself.
Here’s the awesome part of the story: New Jersey has lowered the flag for each of the 31 service members from New Jersey who gave their lives in the war on terror. I have no idea how many other states do that, but they all should.
New Jersey does it when former presidents and other high-ranking elected officials pass away. This is also good. They do it when a law-enforcement officer or firefighter dies. Also good.
Here’s the non-awesome part of the story: They’re going to do it to honor Whitney Houston. Not so good.
Even if — and think about this for a moment please — Whitney Houston had lived a life that was pure and chaste, it wouldn’t change one single thing. Lowering the flag to honor a pop culture icon is wrong, no matter how popular the icon.
It is. I’m sorry it is.
Lowering the flag is a gesture that honors the individual’s service or sacrifice for the good of the nation, state, community, what have you. It will be appropriate when former President George W. Bush dies. Even though I didn’t agree with a lot of the things he did as president, I cannot deny the fact that he served and sacrificed for our nation. Our flag should be and will be flown at half-staff in his honor.
According to the Washington Post, Christie said that he decided to lower the flag to honor Whitney Houston’s, cultural impact and as “a daughter of New Jersey.”
Only that’s not what I, and a lot of others, thought lowering the flag was for. We kind of thought it was honor, sacrifice and service. While Whitney may indeed have done a lot of “good things in her life,” as the Governor said, it’s my opinion that he’s cheapened the tradition for every other person the flag’s been lowered for since then and in the future. If you’re willing to lower it for a singer, no matter how good a singer she might have been, what message are you sending to the family of a police officer who is killed in the line of duty in Newark?
Whitney might have had a heart of gold, she might have adopted every stray puppy she ever saw, she might have loved little babies, been really fun at parties and, for all I know, she might have farted $100 bills as a party trick.
None of that is service to or sacrifice for the nation. None of it.
We do know she sang very well, she sang so well that millions of teenage girls in the 80s pissed off their boyfriends by playing her songs over and over and over. I’m 41 so I know this first hand.
But really that’s it. Her music touched so many lives though, I hear. But how exactly it touched so many lives remains open for debate. If her songs made you cry, smile, laugh or love, that’s great. It has nothing to do with — here’s those words again — service or sacrifice.
Her voice made me cringe because I knew I’d be cursed with whatever song I had just heard. The song would stick in my head for a few hours, which could be an example of touching my life I guess.
The special musical tribute concerts and television shows that are no doubt about to hit the airwaves and the internet are appropriate tributes. Honoring her with that sort of venue is appropriate and I’ve no argument against it.
I really hope they decide not to do this, not because I have anything against Whitney Houston, but because I have something for all legitimate heroes and leaders the flag will be lowered for in the future.
There’s some really easy jokes to make about New Jersey being full of idiots, which isn’t true or even relevant (though looking at what’s come out of there recently: Jersey Shore, Mob Wives, Jerseylicious, Real Housewives of New Jersey, it’s a legitimate question). So I’ll avoid that joke. The governor there is, if his weight is any indication, no stranger to vices. His vice just takes the form of a Twinkie-eating contest that never ever ends.
Lowering the flag half-staff not a joke at all, though. It cheapens the honor of lowering the flag for those who really deserve it..
Truth be known, after about five minutes of listening to me rant about this, Dagmar told me to shut up. After 20 years of marriage, I knew what she meant; she meant I should stop talking. So I started typing.
Still though, it was an awesome argument.