Jun 28, 2006

The Flag Represents America's Freedom & Tolerance (Thus Far)

The American flag stands for freedom which includes dissent! At least this is how we liberals think of a national symbol that deserves respect because of what it represents. Last year around this time, the US House of Representatives passed a “Flag Desecration Amendment” [sponsor, Randy “Duke” Cunningham: another “supper patriot”] and just this week the Senate failed by one vote to do likewise. We don’t need such an amendment that would weaken the Bill of Rights! Most Americans don’t see this as an urgent matter that merits amending the Constitution. Most Republicans in Congress don’t believe that this has any chance of passing [needs approval of 2/3 of both chambers of Congress and ¾ (38) of the states], but the Republicans don’t have much to run on this year. Oh, yes, they have the race card, the fear mongering, and the anti-gay campaign to try to confuse the voters once again this November.

Senator Specter (R-PA) and his cohorts argued that such an amendment would honor the veterans! Hmmm. Wouldn’t it be better to honor them by making sure they have the proper body armor & equipment before they’re deployed in battle? Wouldn’t it be better to extend health insurance to the National Guardsmen after they return home from service? Wouldn’t our fighting men & women be better off if the country kept its promises to them? Finally, wouldn’t we show a practical respect for the flag if we made sure that the men & women who fly it in the battlefield are not sacrificed because of false pretences in a war based on a pack of lies?

Love the flag, not the material it’s made of but for what it stands--which includes free speech and the right of a dissenter to burn the flag as a protest. Actually, flag burning is extremely rare in this country and it’s not a ..burning issue. Maybe half a dozen flags have been burned in anger in the US since the Vietnam war. The Republic has survived quite well and would be doing much better if it weren’t for the Conservatives who are chipping away our civil liberties and are introducing Big Brother—as their solution to the war on terror that has no end and takes place everywhere! Being patriotic and actually doing things to benefit your country, the commonwealth, is something that cannot be legislated. It has to derive from within!

<-Desecration Italian Style?

Many politicians seek cheap thrills and pass feel-good-but-worthless pieces of legislation. When a law is unnecessary not only it shouldn’t pass but our elected officials shouldn’t waste time on it; after all, we’re paying them to do something for the common good! Usually persons who promote themselves as ubber patriots do so in order to conceal their real agenda—which is detrimental to the interests of the majority of the people. Rep. Cunningham was one of them. While he was sponsoring the House bill on the Flag Desecration, he was robbing the taxpayers and violating the law as a common criminal! [he got 8 years in the slammer!]

Where it gets even trickier with this proposed amendment is the meaning “desecration." This is what I wrote last year when the House passed its bill:

Another problem with the desecration amendment is the practical application of the law. Who's to decide when a desecration of the flag takes place? It's much like pornography--in the eye of the beholder. As the 4th of July nears, I see the flag everywhere: on paper napkins that will wipe snouts & dirty hands and then promptly thrown into the garbage; on clothing that covers breasts, buttocks, and other sweaty private parts; on shoes, on chairs, and on funny hats at the Jersey shore. At the end of next week's celebrations, our streets, parks, and beaches will be strewn with plastic flags, and other disposable items decorated with our flag that will be trampled by millions of American feet!”

Unfortunately, the flag has been used often by those who trade on the emotional side, suppressing reason and free speech. The flag has been used as a distraction by those who ask us to sacrifice while they do no sacrificing themselves. It seems to me that respecting the flag requires a bit more that flying it, pinning it on the lapel, and talking big. America the beautiful, land of the free and home of the brave, should remain an open society, tolerant of dissent and a promoter of free speech--even if this speech is disliked by the majority. In the end, we will win more converts to freedom and our way of life than by imitating those regimes that forcefully dictate how their people behave politically. The flag's powerful image and symbolism derive from what it represents. You choose the meaning and act your conscience.It highly hypocritical to allow the flag (and all of our national symbols) to be used for any other reason except for political dissent!

PS. 1. The Supreme Court has decided that burning the flag is a protected free speech action under the Constitution & The Bill of Rights; 2. Fellow blogger Washingtonrox puts things into perspective regarding this ill-conceived effort and has the roll call; check those clueless Dems who abandoned reason for cheap political thrills!