Lawren Jones


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Obama orders flags at half staff for Nelson Mandela. Should the US flag be lowered to honor non-Americans?

There's no denying that Mandela was a great man, but I think lowering of the US flag is an honor that should be reserved for Americans. Do you agree?

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    Dec 16 2013: There are people who have transcended the Borders of other lands where by their deeds have made them a citizen of the world .

    Nelson Mandela is one of these people and what he fought for was for all races, creeds , and nationalities to be able to live together.

    Those deeds alone have earned the respect of people and nations around the World and those deeds and the legacy that remains should be afforded the respect it deserves despite not being a "citizen" of the Country
  • Dec 11 2013: It'd do the US some good to recognize the achievements of a foreigner. Its too detached form the world at large for its own good.

    Your average American has never left the country, and gets his entire idea of what the outside world is like purely from Hollywood and the occasional disaster that makes the news. This becomes a major problem when the US decides to intervene with the world at large, without actually understanding it.
    80% of Americans couldn't find Iraq on a map before the invasion, yet a majority supported it anyway, apparently without understanding why...
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    Dec 11 2013: no, I think some people touch the world enough that people in many countries recognize that. Also, I think that before we are a country, or a citizen of any country, we are part of humanity and thus respond to a fellow human being.
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    Dec 16 2013: I found only one reference that stated what countries lowed their flags:

    Flags are also flying at half-mast in Mandela’s honor in France, Canada, Norway, New Zealand, Bermuda, Kenya and, of course, South Africa.

    I asked the question many ways and this was the only answer I could get.

    Out of the world .... eight countries.

    Does any one have a better answer.
  • Dec 14 2013: Yes absolutely they should, not only out of respect for the person and his achievements. But also it may well encourage Americans to see and understand the values of peoples of other nations. That wider thinking would certainly benefit them, as it does everyone.

    Some Americans after seeing the lower flag, hopefully, as well as schools, may too well ask who was this person. From that may come the thoughts...

    If Nelson Mandela who after 27 years in jail can emerge and not want retribution and war against the people that put him there. But rather take the thoughts, feelings, and lives of his fellow countrymen (who are from all corners of the world) in to account and realize that bombing, killing, and retribution only lead to wars that last decades which cause needless suffering on all sides, is that really a way forward?

    Maybe too people will realize, that it takes a special person to rise about those baser instincts, and really care, showing by action his concern for his fellow mankind, and putting personal interests aside and devote himself to the betterment of the people of the country.

    It may also force people to ask... Isn't that really what a President should be?

    It would too if Americans think about that, see that, understand that, be educated on that, that hopefully they they too may ask why they are at war. When will it end? What is the point? And lastly if not most importantly...isn't there a better way.
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    Dec 13 2013: Under 4 U.S.C. § 7(m) and established traditions by Presidential proclamations, the flag of the United States is to be flown at half-staff in following circumstances

    For thirty days after the death of a current or former president or president-elect, as occurred after the death of President Reagan and the death of President Ford.

    For ten days after the death of a current vice president, current or retired chief justice, or current speaker of the House of Representatives.

    From the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a secretary of an executive or military department, a former vice president, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate,[23] or the governor of a state, territory, or possession.

    On the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.

    On Memorial Day until noon.

    Upon presidential proclamation

    The question is about the flag being lowered for non-americans ... the problem is that some will make it a racial question because of the person involved. Ignoring the racial issue .... I think you are right ... it should be reserved for Americans and events that affect the American public ... 9/11, Katrina, etc .... are events of national significance.

    The half staff is to symbolize the flag of death at the top so the US flag is lowered to make room ... if no one has died then it is inappropriate ... such as the Tucson shooting of a politician who did not die .,...

    I would think that other than or set events listed above the states should have the decision authority and the federal should stay out of it. Ergo the death of a US president etc ... is national and fed involvement is ok. After those issues it is a states decision to honor locals.

    Upon presidential proclamation ... can and has become a political agenda issue such as the Tucson shooting was about gun control ... the politician did not die. No disrespect intended.

    Just my thoughts .... Bob.
    • Dec 15 2013: Rules - they were made men - and meant to be broken.

      I can't think of a better case, to be the better man, and realize that as in the case of Gandhi, as well Mandela, these are the times for the pettiness of rules to be put aside.

      Glad the president of the usa decided to be the better man.

      Hopefully some of that understanding of rising above the derision and division that is nationhood, so that we can all realize we are all part of one world - an infinitesimally small blue planet the one we ALL share - will hopefully rub off on his fellow americans.

      I surely hope so.
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        Dec 15 2013: Steven, May I ask where you are from. It gives a great deal of insight as to how questions are answered.

        "Rules - they were made men - and meant to be broken."

        I have set on many boards and have never helped frame or vote for a rule that was meant to be broken ... if that were the case I would have objected and said then why make it a law / rule.

        Not all rules / laws are good ... yep there are some that need to be changed ... and there is a process to do that.

        I looked up many nations and the rules for lowering the flag ... two are a never and most of the rest are reserved for events / deaths in their country.

        Where are you from and what are your countries rules?
        • Dec 16 2013: Robert, what am I from, that's a good question, not one easily answered. That's not being trite, it's just that I have lived in many countries around the world, from 1st world to 3rd.

          In some ways, that gives me i feel insight, to the consequences for the less fortunate, who for them the rules are really irrelevant. The reasons the fortunate use laws and mechanisms that only people with access can change, and once part of the system, and reaping benefits from it, most rather stick with the status quo.

          Unfortunately when people sit on boards, as too i have done, they only tend to see things from a remote perspective, and not though any fault of their own, just either don't have the understanding of what the implications mean, or are just not in touch with that part of humanity, so just carry on.

          Some times there are process's to change the law's, that's true, but equally true is that those that have nothing, have no legal means or mechanism to effect change. It's why we see violence / terrorism, it's a resort that people who are powerless in the current corrupt (i use that world carefully) system, that disenfranchises swathes of people, all across the globe, and that includes 1st world countries too.

          So Robert, I don't really classify myself a citizen of this or that place, but rather a citizen of humanity. Again that might sound trite, but if you've lived in the Philippines and seen the abject poverty and lived in the US and have seen the wealth, or in you have lived in Europe and see the waste, and lived in Africa and seen the starvation, you have to know ... for us ALL to service, they has to be a better way.

          I know that's rather a long answer for what you probably wanted, ie just a city name.

          But that city name or country name, does not define who am I, what i have seen, what I've done, what I can do, and what can be done to bring about a more just and verdant world.
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    Dec 12 2013: Lowering the flag is a symbol of respect. Do only Americans deserve this respect ?
    Beside, lowering the flag for a non-American is not something unique. That already happened in the past as well (Yitzhak Rabin, Churchill, King Hussein,....)
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    Dec 12 2013: Why do you think lowering the American flag should be reserved for the deaths of Americans? I notice Australia, Ireland, and India lower their flags also for deaths of people of such stature who are not citizens of their countries. I was surprised to read that most other nations reserve this for their country-people. I don't actually understand why they make that particular choice.

    The United States flag also flew half-staff at the death of Pope John Paul II.

    I think some people have a significance that makes national borders where they happened to live irrelevant. To me flying the flag at half-staff in this case was a good call.
  • Dec 11 2013: Tribalism prevails. THEY are worthy. THEY are not worthy. Good lord, we must examine these primitive concepts. We must examine our conditioning.....our programming....our 'sacred' traditions.
  • Timo X

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    Dec 10 2013: Of course I agree. The United States of America is home to the most important, and indeed, the best people in the world. Everybody knows that. The sacred honour bestowed by lowering the US flag should not be sullied by an outsider, a non-American like Nelson Mandela. Whatever Mandela did in his life, he will never be as good, as noble, as honourable as a true and pure American. I'm very glad that you brought attention to this important issue.
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      Dec 13 2013: thanks for the chuckle :)
    • Dec 15 2013: God damn Timo, the NSA would be proud of you.

      And for you to show that kind of alliance to The United States of America, means you'll never be spied on again.

      Any time you need a job, be sure being a drone operator is just a weeks training away.
  • Dec 15 2013: Does America lower the flag when a Indian chief... say the leader of the Navaho dies?
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    Dec 15 2013: Seems a nice gesture.

    bit mean if only pay tribute to us citizens.

    aren't we all human?

    the USA has a chequered past with slavery, worse than apartheid and many of African decent.

    is it the presidents call?

    Any way it's an issue for usa citizens.

    I would not be upset if the Australian flag was half mast for Mandela.

    he seems to have done moor for humanity and been a symbol for improving the human condition than most contemporary Australians. More than most prime minister's or the queen of England, which for some odd reason is still out head of state in the21st century,
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    Dec 15 2013: I think this act definitely showcases a world vision.Obama is telling his people to broaden their horizons and do not limit themselves to their own country alone.What he did perfectly represents his view on "all man",kind of like Goethe's style:
    before we are citizens of any country, we are part of humanity.

    His ordering flags at half staff for Nelson Mandela is an approach to show respect to Mandela's spirit and achievement.And that is the idea spreading,isn't it?How i wish my country can do this as well.:)
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    Dec 15 2013: one should not be patriotic to a flag...

    i got flack for a dirty burnt flag which had more character than a brand new one...

    my reply was so what??? at least mine has a story to tell

    pride should not be coming from a flag but from achievements....
    what has a piece of cloth done for you? keep you from getting cold and wet or keep you cool and dry

    people have killed for less
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    Dec 13 2013: maybe they plan to invade south africa and save it from the rest of the world....
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    Dec 11 2013: I've been disappointed in the responses I've received so far. Not because I've been disagreed with, but because the issue at hand seems to be confused.

    The issue is not whether or not Mandela is deserving of honor and respect. The issue is not whether Americans are superior to others. The issue is simply whether this *particular* form of respect should be reserved for Americans. I have searched and cannot find any evidence of foreign flags being lowered upon the death of any US dignitaries. It's also worthy of note that President Obama did not bestow the same honor to Margaret Thatcher when she died.

    President Obama and former President George W. Bush are attending the funeral, which is an appropriate honor for the great man, and should speak to America's respect for Mandela's impact on the world stage. But I still maintain that lowering of the flag should be reserved for American citizens.

    Nor I am not alone in my opinion, as elected leaders at the local, state, and federal levels have spoken out with the same viewpoint.
    • Timo X

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      Dec 12 2013: Discrimination on the basis of nationality is not essentially different from the discrimination on other arbitrary characteristics such as skin colour, gender or sexuality. Of course, discrimination on the basis of nationality is widely accepted, and perhaps even normal or institutionalized in some places. Does that make it right though? I don't think so. Maybe local politicians are your source of moral authority, but I prefer to think for myself. Either way, I cannot help but perceive irony in the fact that your issue with a man who fought against discrimination for most of his life, is that he is supposedly not the proper nationality for the honour he received. I would urge you to learn a lesson from the 'disappointing', i.e. dissenting, responses here.
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      Dec 13 2013: IMO America is an idea as much as a place.

      You say that Mandela was a great man, was he not convicted of murder? Why was he great?
      • Dec 13 2013: Pat,

        Believe he was convicted for conspiracy to overthrow the government, not for murder.
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          Dec 13 2013: Not according to this article, which indicates he was responsible for many deaths

          That is the trouble with deifying people. We talked about this a while back about Abraham Lincoln who was literally the opposite of the legend.

          I guess the pendulum can swing too far the other way, but in Lincoln's case and Mandela's case it does not appear to be the case.
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          Dec 15 2013: convicted for conspiracy to overthrow the government - treason - punishable by death
        • Dec 15 2013: " Not according to this article"

          It's just a blog post by some ideologue ... it isn't factual.

          "We talked about this a while back about Abraham Lincoln who was literally the opposite of the legend."

          Aside from the misuse of "literally", this is another false claim.
      • Dec 14 2013: Pat, I think that in the political arena, a person could be convicted by the government system of murder, regardless whether he killed a man, or killed for justified reasons. I am not arguing for Mandela, but regardless of any "history" or "official report". one must look at these report with a grain of salt..
        My comment has nothing to do with the constitutionality of the lowering of the U. S. flag.
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          Dec 14 2013: No grain of salt necessary. His cause was against apartheid ostensibly this would be to better his group's standard of living. Apparently this ideology justified murder?

          The sanctity of life is above ALL else, certainly an ideologue holding up a straw man to incite heinous crimes is Not a great man.

          Does anyone have a reason why Mandela should be admired?
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          Dec 15 2013: no!!! they do not

          they cannot justify why or give reason why he should be admired... except that he is black and if we support him it does not make us seem racist
          it is sad that tedx contributors cannot eloquate their admiration...

          the truth is: he like the rest of the world supported a cause that enriched the fat cats of the anc and that the previous government still pulls the puppet strings- this is what keeps SA intact

          this is the era when we give "black" people recognition to prove we are not racist...
          yet nothing is done to improve living standards and conditions of these liberated people...
        • Dec 15 2013: Mandela didn't murder anyone. As for why he should be admired, that has been written and spoke about extensively, even by people like Ted Cruz. Asking whether there is a reason is not a legitimate inquiry.
      • Dec 15 2013: Pat if the UN had any guts,

        there would be quite a few presidents and non presidents that could and should be charged with crimes against humanity.

        For one I dont think the flag needs lowering on their death, more like a national street party.
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          Dec 15 2013: Me thinks that the UN is another deity and a myth?
      • Dec 16 2013: There are others out there Pat, but yes, the UN is a bit of a deity. There is The Hague, Court of human rights, but it's a call that no-one dare make to charge a president. The consequences of arresting a president for crimes against humanity, are maybe just to dire for far to many to want to be less than honest with them selves. Unless it's some African president, they it's ok, because again it shows they do care... So instead they'll impeach a 1st world president for having consensual sex, it shows to the public at least that you still have "some" morals.
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    Dec 11 2013: Lowering a flag at half-staff to honor someone like Mandela doesn't seem like enough. Emulating him in life is the ultimate honor.
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      Dec 15 2013: how do you emulate someone you do not know???
      • Dec 15 2013: You have more information at your finger tips than EVERY in human history and you still ask this???

        Homework !
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          Dec 16 2013: Don't be offended if you do not have an answer and decided to follow the masses.
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    Dec 11 2013: Absolutely Not Mandela

    Maybe Gandi or Margaret Thatcher or Churchill