For the first since 1932, when the Olympics were held in the United States in Lake Placid and Los Angeles, the United States may instruct its athletes to dip the American flag when they pass the leaders of the host country, U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) CEO Scott Blackmun said Thursday.
Interestingly enough, the American tradition of refusing to dip the flag started in 1908 in London, when shotputter Ralph Rose refused to lower the flag supposedly saying, “This flag dips for no earthly king.” There were political reasons for the refusal then; there were Irish-Americans on the team, and they wouldn’t acknowledge the British king.
But the Americans did dip the flag at 1912 at Stockholm, in 1924 at Paris, and in 1932 at Lake Placid and Los Angeles. The tradition of not dipping the flag was cemented in 1936, in Berlin, when the American athletes would not dip the flag to German Chancellor Adolf Hitler during the opening ceremony.
So why now? Here are two interesting propositions:
1. The Obama Administration, well-aware that the Romney campaign is successfully portraying Obama as having abandoned our allies, wants to shore up its position by acting deferentially toward one of our strongest allies. Romney has always pointed out that one of Obama’s earliest acts was ejecting the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House. Now Obama can look as if he likes the British.
2. This is more devious: the idea of dipping the flag has nothing to do with Great Britain at all (after all, they’re still talking to us after Obama has dissed them over and over), but is meant to start the tradition of dipping the flag because of the next Olympic Games in the winter of 2014. Just where are they, anyway?
In Sochi, Russia. That’s right; if we dip the flag in London, next we’ll be dipping the flag to Vladimir Putin. Remember when Obama asked Putin for time until Obama could be reelected and then be more “flexible?”
Bowing before Putin is pretty flexible, all right.
The tradition of refusing to dip the flag is a good one. Americans have never bowed before foreign potentates and shouldn’t start now.