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WILL CONGRESS OUTLAW FLAG BURNING?

Before the 2006 Congressional elections, the Senate will attempt to divert our attention from such inconvenient topics such as the HADITHA massacre and potential war with Iran. But no law can stop the intense hatred that millions have toward U.S. imperialism and the flag that symbolizes the actions of a country that wants to dominate the world at any cost.
Sometime between now and the 2006 elections in November, the U.S. Senate will debate one of the most pressing questions facing the American people. No, they will not debate the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and possible U.S. withdrawal. They will not take up the Bush regime's preparations for war, possibly even nuclear war, against Iran. They will not seriously talk about global warming, the degradation of the environment, preparations for the coming hurricane season, or the Bush regime's massive spying on the American people, or any other pressing issues. Instead they will debate whether or not to amend the constitution to allow Congress to ban the burning of the American flag.

Those in favor of the amendment intend to divert the attention of the rest of us from the real questions of the day. They also hope to drum up support among their political base for more of the same reactionary policies which have been coming out of Washington since the election of Bush.

In 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court in Texas vs. Johnson ruled that flag-burning is constitutionally protected free speech. Since then there have been numerous attempts to amend the constitution by Congress to outlaw flag-burning. Last year the House of Representatives passed a flag-burning amendment sponsored by "U.S. war hero" California Republican Representative Randy Cunningham, who is now serving time for taking $2.4 million in bribes while serving in the House of Representatives. The current measure before the Senate has 57 co-sponsors. It passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 6-3 vote. It needs a two-thirds majority vote to pass out of the Senate and then needs to be ratified by 38 states within seven years to take effect.

Proponents of the amendment say that the flag must be protected because it "symbolizes America and what the country stands for." But they fail to understand that is exactly why the flag is burned around the world and here at home. The flag does symbolize and represent U.S. actions around the world. By burning the flag, people are protesting and offering resistance to those various actions.

Just what does the American flag represent to billions of people? It is an imperial flag that represents more than 200 years of oppression to people in the U.S. and throughout the world. The U.S. flag flew over the ships that uprooted millions of Africans and carried them to enslavement. It was carried by troops that invaded Mexico and forcibly stole a large section of the country. It was carried by the soldiers who committed genocide of the aboriginal people of America. In 1898, the flag was raised in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines when the U.S. "freed" those nations from Spain, only to bring them under U.S. domination with the use of cannon, rifles, and bayonets.

The U.S. troops who repeatedly invaded the countries of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America in the 20th century proudly bore this flag. Of course the U.S. made these countries free for exploitation by American companies such as United Fruit, ITT, Kennecott Copper and the energy industry.

When the U.S. became the first and only country to use nuclear weapons, the planes that dropped the bombs on Japan had the flag prominently displayed. The B-52 air fleet that carpet bombed, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the sixties and seventies also had the flag painted on its planes. The soldiers who massacred the My Lai villagers in Vietnam wore the flag on their uniforms as do the current U.S. occupiers of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marines who murdered 25 or more innocent Iraqis in Haditha had the American flag on their vehicles as they went house to house shooting people.

The defenders of the flag say we are a nation of laws and that is one of the ideas that the flag symbolizes. Let us examine some of these laws. When the U.S. Constitution was drafted and legalized the notion that slaves were worth 3/5 of a person and that slavery could continue, a U.S. flag flew over the meeting hall. When the Supreme Court decided the Dred Scott decision upholding the rights of slaveholders over their "property" and Plessey vs. Ferguson legitimizing Jim Crow laws, the flag flew over the court building. When year after year, the U.S. Congress refused to pass anti-lynching legislation it flew over the steps of Congress. When the Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act and other racist anti-immigration legislation, including this year, the flag continued to fly. When President Roosevelt signed an executive order to imprison 120,000 Japanese Americans the American flag flew over the barbed wire at the concentration camps.

Today, the flag flies at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and many other prisons run by U.S. forces where prisoners are denied fundamental legal rights and are tortured and killed. I do not know if it flies at the secret prisons where the CIA practices "intense interrogation" techniques such as water boarding that our President and Attorney General claim are not torture.

Under the Bush regime U.S. government rhetoric has risen to new heights of hypocrisy. Under the banner of the stars and stripes, the U.S. government claims to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan by invading them and bringing death and destruction to their people. In Iraq, the only freedom that exists is freedom from life brought to more than 100,000 people. In both countries, puppet governments are propped up with U.S. troops. U.S. supported drug lords rule the countryside in Afghanistan. Using the cover of preventing Iran from obtaining "the bomb", the U.S. is now planning a "preemptive war" against that country.

Fortunately, most people easily see through the hypocrisy of the U.S. government propaganda. Actions speak much louder than words.

That is why to the vast majority of the world's people, the American flag represents an imperialist country that militarily and economically dominates the world without regard to the human and environmental costs. It is this representation which will cause people to burn it regardless of what action Congress takes. No laws or propaganda can change reality. Where there is oppression there will always be resistance.

Kenneth J. Theisen writes about national and international issues.
You described the history that most wont want to acknowledge 01.Jun.2006 18:08

Ben Waiting

After reading all that, I was looking for a lighter

Thanks for a little HISTORY lesson

And people are proud of this flag?

I am ashamed,

It was nice to see the dots connected, and well worth re-reading!

use it for cat litter liner 01.Jun.2006 18:47

iconoclast

I guess the thing that bugs me about the flag is that it is used, not just to support hierarchy and war, but to pretend that we have a social compact of some sort--or even more ridiculously, a democracy, instead of a self-perpetuating corporate kleptocracy.

This Murka that we worhip with the flag is destoying the earth's ecosystems and immiserating the millions on behalf of the few, the rich, the megalomaniacs.

Imagine me publicly taking a big flag, marked with corporate symbols, and washing them all off in a tub in a public square.

Other burnable symbols 01.Jun.2006 20:19

Marleen

If they do pass this ridiculous law,

Those who feel antsy burning the stars and stripes
can presumably burn these symbols of corruption:
Flag of the President of the United States
Flag of the President of the United States
Flag of the Attorney General
Flag of the Attorney General
Flag of the Secretary of Defense
Flag of the Secretary of Defense

No American flag to burn?? 02.Jun.2006 03:21

pyromaniac

What? Listen when its cold outside I just sit back and burn a flag or two with a nice marshmellow roastin.

So what else could I burn instead.. hm .. I could burn a draft card .. no aint got one .. burn a bra .. hell dont need one .. Oh I have it! an effigy of George "Asshole" Bush or Dick Cheney or John Negroponte! They are still legal right? Or I could burn my tax forms or debt records or all the bills. Geee .. I will need a pillow case or two.. some coat hangers.. maybe a mask of George or Dick or I can draw it on a pilow case with their names in big bold letters at the begining of the sentence "is Satan".

Is an effigy website explaining the best way to make and burn an effigy? Maybe someone needs to make a site called BurnAFascistEffigy.com site.

These are great ideas. 02.Jun.2006 10:09

free speecher

If "iconoclast" or any of these other posters do end up washing the flag (how about a "blood" stained flag?- real blood or fake, it would be a powerful statement!!) or burning some DoD flags or any of these other excellent ideas, please invite the rest of us!

Believe me, you will have PLENTY of good company!!

And, there's (some) safety in numbers, too.

Got my matches out, now.

Proud to Support "Burning of Symbols" 02.Jun.2006 10:55

Joe Anybody

I can predict "many" burning symbols in the future if the flag measure passes

I will also predict a law against burning anyting in public will then soon follow

I bet some sort of legally approved burning containeer, thus might be required to burn the symbol in.

I predict in the near future a fire started in the street will be grounds for inciting and encouraging Terrorism

I'm not crying 02.Jun.2006 12:50

desparate patriots

There's just smoke in my eyes. The kids were bored so we gave them our big box of American Flags to burn in the street. We burn them in the fireplace in the winter to keep warm, but now that summer is here, what the hell?

The entire issue is a Republican distraction 02.Jun.2006 13:38

Brian

Gives the media something to talk about while they steal us blind.