Wednesday :: Jun 29, 2005

Burning the Flag Burning Amendment

by Marie

And the GOP accuses Democrats of lacking new ideas! They’ve been pitching some form of this for decades. Once upon a time in America, nobody gave any thought to desecrating the flag because nobody did it. Nobody wore stupid little flag pins on their lapels. Nobody wore flag bikinis. Nobody stuck flag patches on their jeans. And nobody burned the flag. (In the south, instead of burning the US flag, they waved the Confederate flag to express their contempt for this country.)

For some reason this country only remembers the handful of flag burning incidents in the past few decades. Equally shocking in the Vietnam era was the use of flags for headbands, headscarves and patches. Somewhere along the way products with the image of the flag appeared. Worn upside down, sewn on the butt of jeans and burned all expressed disgust with our government, particularly the policies in Vietnam. While these expressions didn’t technically desecrate a flag, a majority of the country viewed them as if they had. It was a long time before the SCOTUS ruled that flag burning was protected free speech.

I could never bring myself to do any of that. Partly because I don’t find the flag aesthetically pleasing enough to parade around with it plastered on my butt. But mostly because I don’t appreciate that sort of symbolic protest. I wouldn’t desecrate a Bible to express my contempt for much of what passes for Christianity in America because it would insult good Christians along with the bad ones. For me the greatest documented crime against the world committed by the Taliban was the destruction of the Hindu monument. Again notbecause I have any personal affiliation with the Hindu religion. I guess it’s about RESPECT. Trashing the property or symbols meaningful to others is unseemly. It’s a form of belligerence and violence that makes me uncomfortable. As uncomfortable as being around those who elevate a symbol as something to venerate and can never be questioned.

Sometime after the end of the Vietnam war, capitalism moved in. Someone concluded that all those personal flag decorations sported by the left looked cool and “cool” sells. The carcass of what Newt calls the “counter-cultural revolution” (that he has made his life mission to destroy) has been picked clean of everything except what it stood for . Newt is cool with pot and “free love,” probably because as a male chauvinist, chicken hawk he didn’t get much of that in the sixties (has he been acting out ever since hippie chicks laughed at him?) Tie-dye, macrame and and Rolling Stones were mainstreamed. The great anti-materialist peace movement became a source of new products and markets and after only skipping a beat or two, the Military Industrial Complex carried on as they had for decades.

Today images of the American flag are everywhere. T-shirts, pants, underwear. Worn by everyone from blue-haired old ladies in Alabama to toddlers in New York. Like a fungus, the flag on set stages for politicians have mushroomed. No longer a flag, but a landscape of flags. The grotesque excess of Americans that can never have just one of anything.

I don’t care to know how flag desecration will be defined. What will constitute the flag and what will constitute desecration of it are going to prove to be if not impossible much more difficult than before the commercialization of flag imagery. It really doesn’t matter because flag burning as political protest appears less frequently than OBL propaganda videos. But if they want to avoid a lot of confusion and strife they could include a provision that official flags will be blessed by King George who will sprinkle Potomac water on specially “made in China” flags.

What I do care about is the desecration of the Constitution. Only once in over two hundred years has this country stupidly used the Amendment route to ban a behavior. Our overarching law is all about defining rights that cannot be taken away by legislation, expanding those rights to include all of us and protecting us from unequal or unjust application of laws. The rightwingers who see Constitutional Amendments banning abortion, same sex marriage and whatever else in the world that they don’t like as the remedy for their intolerance and bigotry that will not pass Constitutional muster in legislation are people who do not revere the Constitution. Their understanding of it is as distorted as their reading of the New Testament. (Maybe that’s not fair. I don’t know if they even read the New Testament. All I ever seem to hear is them quoting the Old Testament; perhaps because they can’t find any passages in the new one where Jesus preaches that war, bigotry and hate thy neighbor are good things.) But boy will they howl when they wake up one day to discover that while they were busy banning flag burning, GWB and his pals were busy burning the New Deal and the Constitution.

(I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that this is not an inherent winner for the GOP. DC Democrats have the power to make it a loser for the Bush and the GOP. However, their track record doesn’t give me much hope that they will. They flubbed the IWR and even when handed a piece of cake like Schiavo, they blew it. A majority of Americans aren’t dumb – they’ve seen enough of the GOP irrelevant wedge issues to smell this one for what it is. If the DC Democrats would give voice to this perception by mocking the GOP for wasting more time on “solutions in search of a problem” instead of dealing with real problems, and once they have the ear of the public, educate them on why the Constitution should not be used to ban behaviors, this could become a huge negative for the GOP.)

Marie :: 6:25 PM :: Comments (14) :: TrackBack (1) :: Digg It!