Such programs take place all the time, as anyone who lives or works near City Hall can attest. Private groups regularly gather on the plaza to celebrate the culture of another country and fly its flag from the third pole, frequently accompanied by music or speeches. Other groups celebrate not countries but causes, and have proudly flown their banners — including the rainbow Pride flag, the Juneteenth flag, the transgender rights flag, and the flag of the Bunker Hill Association — from the third pole.
"We commemorate flags from many countries and communities at Boston City Hall Plaza," the city says on its website. "We want to create an environment in the City where everyone feels included." It can be tough to get municipal approval for some things, but not for flag events. The city's Property Management Department received 284 flag-raising applications between 2005 and 2017. It approved them all.We can understand a world where some types of causes are approved and others not when using a government flagpole, however temporarily. However, we should not even pretend to understand when it is so manifest that the rules changed as soon as the Christian flag was the chosen item of a volunteer group. However the court battles turn out, that intent of the City of Boston is difficult to disguise.
When we try to move to a place of neutrality, we find that neutrality is not good enough for some of the new rulers. They want the previous powers to be especially excluded, to remind everyone that those are no longer in charge. Anything traditional is suspect, a potential source of re-rebellion. It has been a long, long time that anyone could claim that Christianity at all ruled Boston, let alone a specific branch of it, as those who use the Christian flag would be. But it used to be true, and a lot of people continue to resent that, reserving special animus to prevent those Christians harboring any idea they might ever approach the sacred ground of government again. This is similar to what I just wrote about in Opposite Game: There was a day, well before any of us were born, when one might say that a white culture ruled America. It has been the major influence even after that, down to the present day. Because of that it attracts the resentment of many who are unhappy with how life has turned out, whether the white culture has much to do with that or not. It is like the argument against God for allowing evil. You were in charge and didn't prevent this. Therefore, you are at fault.
In its more extreme forms, there is a drive to wipe out all traces of the previous regime, so that thoughts of it no longer readily come to mind, even by accident. Conquerors tear down the arts and statues, forbid the singing of certain songs, ban particular flags and holidays, and even try to forcibly change what language people will speak. We are not there, but those who follow these things can at least see that A) There are some who would wish for that level of erasure, whatever they say and B) the ratchet only moves in one direction. The day never comes when they finally say "Y'know, it's been a century since this was a problem. Maybe we should lighten up."
Jacoby has an excellent archive of recent writings.