Take in One Flag, Put Out More

A political dispute in Kansas inspired a reader of the Lawrence Journal-World to submit this letter citing Evelyn Waugh:

The governor’s response to the flag controversy — to put more flags on display around the Statehouse in Topeka — brings to mind Evelyn Waugh’s early novel of World War II, “Put Out More Flags.” Rich young men, seeing opportunities in government employment on the home front (certainly not on the battlefield), acquire a newfound spirit of patriotism. The governor has certainly done his bit, volunteering as a plastic surgeon in combat zones, but he is also a politician facing a tough election soon. Waugh’s title is from a proverb quoted by the Chinese writer Lin Yutang: “A drunk military man should order gallons [of alcohol] and put out more flags in order to increase his military splendor.”​

Richard Hardin

The letter refers to a report from earlier this month about remarks made by the Governor  with respect to flag displays at the University of Kansas which is located in Lawrence. According to the Journal (12 July 2018), this started with the outdoor display of an American flag on which an artist had painted black blotches and a striped stocking. This was one part of a larger display of objects from the collection of the university’s art museum. The Governor demanded, inter alia, the altered flag’s removal and destruction but at one point, he also suggested this:

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer has ordered additional American flags flown outside the Statehouse in response to a university’s now-relocated public art display featuring an altered flag. Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr said the Republican governor ordered the 19 additional flags to go up Wednesday afternoon on the north and south sides of the Statehouse grounds.

There were apparently already a sufficient number of flagpoles installed around the statehouse to afford compliance with the Governor’s demand.

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