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We Can’t Afford Public Libraries But Check Out This Sick NYPD Media Production Celebrating the American Flag

The mayor and his police brass are obsessed with a piece of jingoistic propaganda they staged after arresting a bunch of college kids. They’re right to be, it’s awesome.

In the minutes leading up to the NYPD's raid of City College on Tuesday night, police officers forced members of the media, including a Hell Gate reporter, off the CUNY campus. Who could, then, be trusted to accurately describe the details of the raid? Who would honestly report what happened to students when officers charged onto campus? Who might document the most important events of that evening?

The answer, according to the NYPD? The NYPD. The department, after all, has an extremely robust communications department which tends to ignore reporters' questions but loves to record and share videos of itself, complete with extremely badass soundtracks. And most importantly—the department has at least one officer on staff who is willing to record and produce and distribute, without immediately breaking into laughter and shouting "wait wait don't actually do that," a ceremonial raising of the American flag and the tossing aside of the Palestinian flag after the arrest of peaceful protesters on a college campus, as if the NYPD just did its own Iwo Jima. 

At the mayor's press conference the next morning, Mayor Eric Adams approved of and highlighted the flag-raising at City College.

"That's our flag folks," Adams intoned gravely. "Don't take over other buildings and put another flag up. That may be fine to other people, but it's not to me. My uncle died defending this country, and these men and women put their lives on the line. It's despicable that schools will allow another country's flag to fly in our country. So blame me for being proud to be an American. I thank Commissioner Daughtry for putting that flag back up. We are not surrendering our way of life to anyone."

You heard it from Mayor Eric Adams: Do not dishonor this sacred land, for which so many made the ultimate sacrifice, by raising a foreign nation's flag upon our soil, as disrespectful ingrates like Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric AdamsEric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, Eric Adams, and Eric Adams have done.

But for all the mayor's newly revealed preference for the American flag over every single other flag, nobody went quite so hard on the U-S-A! U-S-A! of it all as NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry, who posted this remarkable document of the flag-raising at City College to his Instagram account, as a story:

It's a rich text: In the photograph that forms the video's backdrop, two cops stand, if not literally draped in Old Glory, at least close enough to her that some of her semiotic fairy dust is bound to rub off on them. (One of the cops, Daughtry himself, is regrettably photographed mid-blink in such a way as to look like he fell asleep at a high school house party and is about to be Sharpied by people he believed up until now to be his friends. 

But maybe the flag in the picture isn't sufficient to drive the point home? No problem—Daughtry added a second, bigger flag "in post," as they say in the extremely talented, publicly funded NYPD media industry.

To remove the possibility of any remaining confusion about his message here, Daughtry also threw in an actual camo-clad troop, saluting, stolidly, semper fidelis, repeatedly, out into infinity, to the top of his video. This soldier's valor, we are given to understand, is akin to the valor of the police, including the, again, unfortunately blinking Daughtry himself, in their brave push to slam a bunch of protesters heads into the asphalt. "I see you," the soldier seems to say to Daughtry with his never-flagging salute. "We are the same. When the monument to the brave heroes of the Battle of City College is inevitably erected on the Washington Mall next to the Korean War Veterans Memorial, our deathless courage will be celebrated side by side." 

There's a phenomenon you may have noticed where sometimes, artists try to be really arch and sophisticated and you have to be some kind of expert semiotician to decode their references and know what they're trying to say, and it's super irritating. Daughtry wasn't going to make that mistake here. To knit the whole piece together, he added a soundtrack. You can't hear it in the above video, because YouTube wouldn't let us upload copyrighted material, but you can achieve the original effect by playing the song below while watching the video:

This is "Real American," Rick Derringer's 1985 banger whose chorus asserts, repeatedly, "I am a real American." (This song is powerful, not least of all because it was Hulk Hogan's theme song, introduced when he was battling that dastardly Middle Eastern heel, the Iron Sheik.) 

People have already been raising questions about whether this flag photo-op, staged for the NYPD's in-house media propaganda organ at public expense at the very same time that actual reporters were being cleared out, was a good idea, financially or symbolically. Was it worth it? Is this how we want our police department spending their time and resources? The answer, of course, is an unequivocal yes.

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