In Mexican Flag Flap, Nosy Neighbor or American Patriot?

It seems that Tressy Capps (what kind of name is Tressy, anyway?), a local “political activist” in Ontario, California, doesn’t like her neighbors flying a Mexican flag in their front yard. So, this self-proclaimed American “patriot” did something about it. She gloriously high-stepped it over to her non-English speaking neighbors and told them to move back to Mexico if they wanted to fly the Mexican flag:

“This is America. Maybe you can move to Mexico if you want to fly your Mexican flag. Does that make sense?” Capps says.

It makes sense if the person asking the question is a complete moron, devoid of basic civility and grace. Capps, who “insists she’s not a racist, just a patriot,” is a perfect example of why Republicans and Conservatives (not always the same thing, mind you) may very well snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this November. Not only does Capps aggressive and non-gracious attitude reinforce the negative stereotypes of Conservatives (especially of the Tea Party variety), but it serves as a reminder of how we are supposed to treat our neighbors, even those who irritate us.

As a follower of Christ (which Capps apparently is not, at least when it comes to her literal neighbors), I am called by Jesus to live out the Great Commandment:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40, ESV)

How would you feel if your neighbor came to your home — uninvited — and started berating you for exercising your First Amendment rights? Oh, that’s right. Last time I checked, flying Old Glory or the Mexican flag or the Union Jack or even the Confederate flag — was not illegal, although it may run afoul of certain homeowner’s associations. Flying the Mexican flag obviously runs afoul of busy-body Gladys Kravitzes who would rather show their ignorance of the Bill of Rights instead of graciously communicating with their neighbor.

As a Conservative Christian, I am called by my theology to turn the other cheek and to not let every little thing in life offend me. I am called to unconditionally love my neighbor, regardless of their skin color, ethnicity, political ideology, or sexual orientation. I am called to do unto my neighbor as I would want them to do unto me.

Perhaps Ms. Capps should spend more time studying the Good Book rather than listening to all those hotheaded “patriots” who spout such utter (and oftentimes non-Christian) non-sense. It might cut down on her irritation and she might just come to see her neighbors as people worthy of respect, made in the image of God. Is that too much to ask?

 

12 comments for “In Mexican Flag Flap, Nosy Neighbor or American Patriot?

  1. September 26, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    be not unequally yoked. Your flag indicates your allegiance.

    • September 26, 2014 at 7:40 PM

      Jack,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment. My post was not necessarily directed at the allegiance of the neighbors who displayed the Mexican flag as it was the response of the neighbor. One support a person’s First Amendment right to display a foreign flag without agreeing with the statement that such a display conveys. However, to react in such a way as to berate a neighbor was, IMO, ungracious and inappropriate. Even if we vehemently disagree with someone’s politics, religion, or lifestyle, we can still be civil and kind. That doesn’t seem to have happened in this case. Thanks again for stopping by. God bless,

      Howell

      • January 6, 2015 at 4:36 PM

        Howell,
        Are you deaf? Tressy was very civil. Seems certain people care less about her right to free speech. If you offend, prepare to hear from the other side.

        • January 7, 2015 at 9:03 AM

          Sherry,

          Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. According to my wife, I do have selective hearing 🙂 Please take a moment and read my comment to Tressy. As a I reread my post, there were certain aspects of it that I could have presented better. As I shared with Tressy, I try to be gracious in my writing, but I don’t always get it right. This was one of those instances. My post was not necessarily directed at Tressy’s right to free speech, but rather how it was reported that she went about it. I believe that Tressy had the right to speak up against her neighbor’s flying a Mexican flag (or an upside down American flag). However, my contention (again based only upon the news report, which did not portray Tessy in a positive light) was how she handled the matter. I don’t think there is anything wrong with speaking the truth in love to our neighbors (even our literal neighbors who live next door). I agree that “loving our neighbors” can be in line with defending our country, as well (per your other comment). In a pluralistic society, especially as Christians, there will be a definite balancing act between grace and truth. Jesus perfectly embodied both those qualities. We try, but don’s always succeed. That will be our challenge going forward, whether it is dealing with immigration or any number of other social issues which have a moral/religious component.

          Thanks again for taking the time to stop by. I do appreciate your opinion on this matter. Have a great day and God bless,

          Howell

      • Mike Schreib
        January 6, 2015 at 7:44 PM

        I’m glad you decided to take the high road, pastor, by calling Ms. Capps a “busy-body Gladys Kravitz” and a “complete moron devoid of basic civility and grace.” Way to go! People like Ms. Capps deserve to have their name (“Tressie”) joked about by “men of God” like you. Thanks for setting the example. By the way, what kind of name is Dixie Howell Scott, especially for a man? And wasn’t Mr. Howell that pompous windbag on Gilligan’s Island? (Hey, this is fun). I see also that you were a false prophet (or at least a false prognosticator), concerning the political fortunes of conservatives this past November. Hope your grasp of the gospel on Sundays is a little better.

        • January 7, 2015 at 9:15 AM

          Mike,

          As I shared with Tressy, I wish that I could say that I always get it “right” in my writing. As a I re-read my post, it was obvious that I had attacked Tressy personally and not limited myself to arguing with her actions. For that, I have apologized to her. As for my own name, it derives from Dixie “Millard” Howell, the University of Alabama’s first All-American and the MVP in the 1932 Rose Bowl (where he played on the same team with Paul “Bear” Bryant). My father’s family grew up in Alabama and my dad was named after the famous Dixie Howell. When I came along, I became Dixie Howell Scott, II. Because my dad went by Dixie, I have always gone by my middle name, Howell, except in college at George Washington University where my fraternity brothers like the name Dixie. As to Thurston Howell, III being a pompous windbag on Gilligan’s Island (one of my favorites), that is without dispute.

          As a lawyer-turned-pastor, pomposity and sarcasm has a tendency to rear its ugly head from time to time. This post was one of those instances. As for political prognostications, I’m not sure that many people could claim perfection in that endeavor. And, yes, I do hope that my grasp of the Gospel is better than my political writings. That’s why I went from law to grace. I KNOW that I am a sinner saved by God’s grace and I know that I will mess up from time to time. But, God is gracious to forgive when we ask. I do hope that you will do me the same courtesy as I ask for your forgiveness for setting a bad example in this instance. That was not my intention, but that was the result. For that I am sorry. Hope that helps to answer some of your concerns and questions. Hope you have a great day and God bless,

          Dixie Howell Scott, II

          • Tressy Capps
            January 7, 2015 at 3:16 PM

            People with different names learn to face adversity early on. My sons have regular Bible names, Luke and Jacob. I’ve always been fascinated with the origin of unusual names and your name and story is very interesting indeed. Thank you for being so gracious in your apology. I did apologize to the homeowner (Joe my friend interpreted) and even went on the Latino Rebel radio show to address what occurred. They are a group pretty obsessed with racism I have learned. My tea party friends and I worked on various immigration issues prior to this with much success and they were looking to get even. The Latino Rebels made my video go viral. I really was a community activist in 2014 and did accomplish many things the least of which was the flag video. Did you happen to look at any of my other youtube videos? You would clearly get what I did last year (which in hindsight was completely unforeseen). Busing following the death of a child, immigration, school board issues, common core, Israel and Chase bank’s social agenda push sums it up. Up until 2014 I was a workaholic in the attorney service business and did some real estate deals. Taking financial peace at church changed my entire perspective about many things. Living debt free buys you time to engage in other pursuits and that I did to the fullest in 2014. Hard to say what 2015 will hold. I could write a book about 2014 it was so full. I’m moving forward asking God to direct my path. My initials are TLC so the bar is set very high!

          • January 7, 2015 at 4:42 PM

            Tressy,

            Thanks for the reply. My oldest son, Stephen, has my middle name, but I did not pass along my first name to him, for which he is eternally grateful 🙂 My other two sons have regular Bible names as well, including my middle son, Jacob (good name choice, don’t you think). I appreciate your further explanation of the events that transpired with your neighbors and others within your community. Certainly puts things into a much clearer perspective.

            Glad that you were able to take FPU at your church. We are just getting ready to preview a new semester of Financial Peace tonight at church. It has been a blessing for me and for others who have gone through it. As the Lord does direct your path, may He keep you in perfect peace (shalom, shalom — Isaiah 26:3) in the new year. Thanks again for the dialogue and for your graciousness. God bless,

            Howell

  2. Tressy Capps
    January 6, 2015 at 2:34 PM

    What kind of name is Howell anyway? Tressy is a doll from the 60’s with long hair that grows. Since I am blessed with long thick hair, I applaud my Mom for her name selection. Her foresight was remarkable. This was a GIANT lone Mexican flag on a very busy street. 1000’s of cars a day were treated to this spectacle. I was very kind in my tone and demeanor when I spoke to this lady. Your opinion of my relationship with Jesus means absolutely nothing come judgment day. These folks did install 2 American flags for what became a media spectacle. Odd, as one was hung upside down, but hey, anything goes in Howellnation? My father fought for this country and that flag. Perhaps our soldier’s sacrifices mean nothing to you? When the ISIS flag goes up next door, take heed. You can “turn the other cheek” as they sharpen their swords in anticipation of your loving acceptance of their culture.

    • January 7, 2015 at 8:50 AM

      Tressy,

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Sorry I didn’t see your comment yesterday as it went into my spam folder. I appreciate you taking the time to share with me some more insight into the situation that you were involved with. I did go back a reread my post (as it was from September). As a lawyer-turned-pastor, I admit that I have a unique perspective on certain issues. Sometimes an issue will strike me and I will write based upon the available information that I have at the time. I try to do it with grace, but there are times (and this was one) where I end up addressing personalities rather than issues. Although I do believe that citizens (including your neighbors) do have rights that they may exercise in ways that we may not agree with and that we may strenuously object to, we should (particularly Christians) do it in a way that shows love, grace, and truth. The news articles that I based my post on were obviously not as charitable to how you have indicated that you actually interacted with your neighbors. And, I was obviously not as charitable in my opinion of that matter, either. For that, I apologize to you. I wish I could say that I was “perfect” in how I write and that my own snark and sarcasm gets filtered out in the writing process. Usually it does, but in your case it did not. For that I am sorry.

      As a last thought, I, too, would be distressed (to say the least) if an ISIS flag went up next door. How would I respond? Turning the other cheek doesn’t mean submitting to evil, but it does mean that we are to show love and grace while standing for the truth. That, admittedly, is a hard thing to do, particularly in our cultural/political/religious environment. I won’t say that I would get that one right either, but I would hope that I could balance both grace and truth in a way that is honoring to the Lord Jesus Christ. In any situation, that’s all that we can hope for.

      Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I truly do appreciate your personal insight on this matter. If you have any other questions or comments, please feel free to share them. I would love to continue the dialogue. It might surprise you that we are closer on some issues than you might think. Have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

  3. January 6, 2015 at 4:48 PM

    Loving your neighbor is in line with defending your country – which is standing up for all its citizens. Some people want to turn it into Mexico and we must nip it in the bud.

  4. January 7, 2015 at 11:51 AM

    No offense Howell, but I think I understand why you are a “lawyer-turned pastor”. Just the slightest bit of research on the Internet would turn up the actual video of Tressy speaking courteously to the woman in her neighboring city. If you still can’t find the video, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNIWKX4Tfj0 Happy New Year!

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