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Flag Burning

An attempt to get people all worked up, over this so sensitive of issues!!! Maybe, just maybe, some good ol' conversation stuff.
In the last two years there has been much debate within a group I was worked closely with last year about the issue of flag mutilation, alteration, and burning. The debate seems to surface after every protest, and was a hot topic last year in Eugene when Homeland Security let a marine try to kill a female member of our collective who was protecting someones right to burn (and it sounds like this year in Portland on May Day).

The main question that surfaced is one that, in all honesty seems to only have a single answer. "Can there be a sacred, or holy symbol in a democracy, or country based on freedom?" If the answer is yes, then it is safe to say that this sacred symbol is, rather then a symbol of freedom, is in fact the opposite and thus takes on the form of an oppressive icon. No longer is a nation represented "by the people", but rather by a supposed "all inclusive" image that we are told to accept.

Many times, I have heard statements like: "The flag represents all the struggles taken on by the people, of all colors, and creeds from our past. The people that have struggled for our freedom." I understand this statement in, however many times the said speaker is not aware of the hypocricy of it. The flag is not "the" struggle, but rather, is suppossed to symbolize "our" struggle. Right? But does it, does it really do any of this?

To those of us out there who consider the flag to be holy, or sacred, I ask you to re-evalute your stance. Please look at what this flag does in fact mean to those of us actively engaged in a real struggle for freedom. It is not a rallying point, but rather has taken on an aspect of what we are fighting against.

I can go on for hours about reasons why our flag has never was, and no-longer is for the people. But rather, I would like all of us to reflect what it means to see an active member of our communities burn such a symbol. What is it that they (or we) are angry about? Why do we feel so strongly that we are willing to denounce our said national status? What does that status represent to the rest of the world? What are we as a nation doing to fix the worlds oppinion? What other nations in history have placed such strong emphasis on their national symbol? What has nationalism led to in the past?

I think that if we take the honest time to really read, research, and look deeply we will find answers to these questions...

once answered, I ask you why should we not burn the flag of the United States of America?

Revolutionary Youth Collective

To the Revolutionary Youth Collective! 03.May.2004 20:39

JP Cupp, Iraqi Resistance Solidarity Network anti_imperialist_solidarity@yahoo.com


Right now Pro-US sentiment is OBJECTIVELY a greater force for Fascism in Power than Nazism. In fact our primary struggle should be against.
Let's define Full blown fascism in a more through-going manor than Mussoli's "corporatism" and the ruling class dictionary, for that I refer you to the 13th Plenum of the Communist International as "... the open terrorist dictatorship, of the most reaction, most chauveninistic, and most imperialistic elements of finance capital."

This would be the grossly described as a "New World Order" or "Globalization", that is US Imperialism and Zionism, principly the US which is the epicentre.

In otherwords Objectively Saddam Hussein is an anti-fascist, and Kucinich and the "Peace is Patrtiotic" folks who want the UN (tool of imperialism) to occupy iraq, are part of the Fascist Camp.

You should by all means fight off in a disciplined and mature ( but also ferocious) way Pro-US sentiment. That flag burning generates such controversy simply means that it is a good way of making a dividing line issue, and heightening the contradictions with opertunistic behavior.

"Working-Class" is not an excuse for espousing and joing the fascist ranks.Perhaps in our era of fierce anti-imperialist class struggle, were the gun is the primary mode, we could call such folks "scabs" or "mercenaries".

My only major problem with the RYC is that is is incredible soft on Zionism, though no more so than anarchist leaning militant left groups in the US, in general.

John Paul Cupp

Would you organization support the Sept.25th International Call to support the Iraqi Resistance?

JP Cupp Is A Moron 03.May.2004 21:21


Spelling and syntax errors aside, JP Cupp's commentary strongly suggests that he is a blazing idiot.

I was wondering... 03.May.2004 21:28


If someone during a rally started burning an anarchist flag, would anarchists prevent them from doing it?

Ironic -hehe 03.May.2004 21:36


"A flag is never said to be burned - it is retired. That means it is NOT a Flag Burning Ceremony. Disposing a flag that is worn, faded, or tattered by retiring (burning it) is the only method approved by Congress. The burning should take place at a ceremony which shows respect and honor to the flag/s being retired."
--  http://www.scoutingbear.com/USA/flagret.htm

Every good boy scout knows how to treat an old flag, you burn it. They can pretend they're "retiring" it, but they're really just burning it with a tear in their eye.

Why burn the flag? 03.May.2004 21:47

Red Suspenders

I really do hate to see folks making a public spectacle of burning the US flag.
It doesn't win us any support whatsoever among "moderates", and discredits the entire progressive movement in the eyes of most of the country.

A lot of nasty stuff has been done in the name of religion- but we dont go making bonfires out of bibles and other holy books.

The flag represents the USA, not Bush and his chickenshit friends, and not Wal-mart or Mcdonalds either.

Fly the flag upside down- that's a sign of distress. And right now, this whole country is in distress.

In case you didn't know, the proper way to dispose of a worn-out or damaged flag is by burning it.

Think about the statement you are trying to make before you act. If you just want to get a rise out of people, there are plenty of better ways that don't have a such a negative impact on your credibility.

Don't burn the flag, wipe your shitty ass with it. 03.May.2004 22:10


What better way to show your disrespect to you shitty ass country than to wipe your shit ass with it?

Wipe your shitty ass with the flag and leave it in the street for the shitty fucking pigs to pick up. I'm sure they'd rather you burn it.

Better yet, get a group of people together and feed them 2 pound of peanuts and a box of ex-lax a piece and get in a circle and shit all over the flag.

oh mymy 03.May.2004 22:17

your momma

seems to be, you were only with me 2 days. Whenst from my womb you did not come, because I not have one, from my colon you didst plop into the bowl.

So, seems to be your idea of a communal butt wipe is nothing but a family reunion for you.

Mom 03.May.2004 22:24


Ah, so that's why you named me #2.

Hear Hear! 03.May.2004 22:40


Well put, Red Suspenders.
Now, writing from personal experience, my subjective rationale for burning the flag is that it's just good fun.....but......
As sentient beings sparsely interspersed in a somnulent population accustomed to being fed artificially colored "red,white & blue" pablum, we should be conscious that the pablum-eaters won't swallow any alternative we may offer if it appears to be in bad taste.
Try waving an adbusters flag in their face. Perhaps the difference is subtle enough to be accepted.
You'll never find me in support of any law against burning the flag, but I (too) think there are better ways to make your point. I heard Dennis Kucinich questioned about why he voted to ban flag burning. He said that he wasn't too wrapped up in the issue, but that his brother, a veteran, called him up and asked him to vote against flag burning.
Possibly paraphrasing here, Dennis quoted his brother saying something like "I fought for that flag. It means something to me. Please don't let it be desecrated." Though I disagree with this position, I do so with some respect. It's fun to burn the flag in the privacy of your peers, but it's not a great tactic to wake people up to what the filthy rag stands for.
You want to make a point that amerika is nothing but a korrupt,ko-opted korporation(kkk?)Get the adbusters flag, fly it on all the goofy fake "holidays." Why offend the oafs when you can perhaps enlighten them instead?

MyMyMy (Why does the flag have to hurt so much?) 03.May.2004 23:06


Have you noticed that premium flags are too coarse and irritate the tender skin of the anus (of course, some of us are more tender there, some have callouses). The problem with slick synthetic Wal*Mart flags is that they're just not absorbant. They just move everything around and you end up dirtier. What this great country needs is a new Charmin-style flag for the masses!

here's an idea 03.May.2004 23:14


The point about burning the flag as an act of retiring it, is well taken. This could in fact be respectfully performed in a demonstration/march, as a reflection of the dishonor many feel the government has cast upon this artifact that to many people, symbolizes so much heartfelt sacrifice. I don't think I've ever seen this done. Usually in the local demonstrations I've seen where flag burning has been performed, the participants have danced about the burning flag in a state of gleeful, maniacal lunacy....hardly the kind of respectful end we might expect people who care would hope for. People should do what they will with the flag. It does indeed represent one of the most powerful means of conveying distress with the state of things on the part of the country that flys it. But to restate a point: When this flag is desecrated, remember that serious wounds are inevitably being inflicted upon many good hearted people who either have personaly sacrificed a great deal, or know people who have. So it better be for a good reason.

I want my Lenin 04.May.2004 02:06


We must destory this country from within, this counry never did anything good for me, my goal is for the US to be like any other 3rd world country, like North Korea, now there's happiness.
well except for the starving bit, and the leader worshiping I suppose.

I cry when the flag is burned... 04.May.2004 11:55


...it's such a beautiful sight!

JP Cupp 04.May.2004 15:25


JP is the dick that yells anti-semetic bullshit at protests.

Expect trouble 04.May.2004 16:02


The flag is too broad a symbol to so many to be the focus of a violent act. What the flag symbolises to some symbolises to others something else entirely. You don't make a bold political statement by burning the flag, all you do is piss a lot of people off. Nothing polarizes a demonstration more than some jackasses torching a flag. Nothing undermines a cause more than to do that in front of the populace. You're not chanting at a protest, you aren't expressing a grievance with picket signs, all you're doing is setting yourself up for failure. People may look on a protest with interest; the moment a flag blazes the observer is instantly against you. By burning the flag you are in effect saying: "You suck! I'm smarter than you! I'm better than you!".
You may not agree, but that's how it looks. Personally, if I saw someone getting beat up for burning a flag, I'd look the other way.

Stars and Gripes 04.May.2004 18:17

North Portlander

I'd pay to watch the burning of the flags bearing logos of certain large, greedy corporations. You know what I mean - they fly them outside their corporate headquarters with the US flag and the State flag as though they were just as important -- or MORE important.

I like the idea of exhibiting the flag upside down for distress, or at half mast for the death of our liberties and freedom of speech.

While I don't believe in turning the flag into an sacred icon or idol - something holy unto itself - I agree that a confusing message is sent by trashing it for the sake of trashing it.

Use it, don't abuse it. Get creative.

Good Reasons Not To Burn The Flag 04.May.2004 19:44


Personal beliefs aside, consider for a moment that you are lucky enough to live in a place where you are allowed to freely espouse your beliefs and views in public. Yes, there are issues with the police harassing relatively peaceful protests, but by and large we're able to go out on the streets and say whatever we want to say. We are able to do that because of the way the U.S. is set up. Make whatever critiques you like about the government (and believe me when I say I have more than a few issues with the current [non-]elected administration), freedom of expression and assembly are guaranteed rights to all of us.

So what does that have to do with the flag? Most people consider the flag to be a representative symbol of the country; by burning it you're giving the finger to the very things that allow you to burn it. By all means, you are completely within your rights to burn the flag, but you're also being completely disrespectful and ignorant.

Red Suspenders had a good point; the flag doesn't represent Bush, it didn't represent Clinton, or Bush the First, or Reagan, or any other president or administration or official -- it represents the U.S. And it does alienate us moderates (though, really, I'm pretty goddamn liberal except when compared with you lot or the kids down at Reed College or something).

In terms of my personal beliefs, if I see you burning a flag, well ... morris will be looking the other way.

Thugs 04.May.2004 19:57

anti -thug

Thugs wearing that flag on their uniforms, planes and tanks go around the world burning (and torturing)people. And some moan about burning that flag! I think their priorities are wrong.

Make a mockery of flag burning 04.May.2004 21:01


So burning an OFFICIAL U.S. flag can put you in jail. So what?

Simply burn a square (unofficial) flag. Or a flag with swastikas instead of stars. Or hammers and sickles instead of stars. Or a flag with vertical stripes. Or a flag with pink or orange stripes. Or a flag with with a purple rather than a blue background. Or a flag with eleven instead of thirteen stripes.

The possibilities are endless in driving the extremists crazy with such mockery.

Anti-semitic 04.May.2004 21:28


what JP yells is not anti-semitic, it is anti-zionist and pro-Palestinian, there is absolutely no similarity between the two

This Bantering is Nothing But Sophomoric Discourse 04.May.2004 21:48



Keep in mind that this junk was started by the supposed "Revolutionary Youth Collective" Emphasis on the word "Youth". What? Did the principle throw you in a corner yesterday? Did someone forget to place the ointment in your diaper as well?

For crying out lound there is nothing constructive here. No argument, no logic, no solution, nothing but juvenile complaints. God forbid if any of you morons had to defend a thesis or even better, yourselves or hold a job.

I remember hearing this stuff in high school. Thanks to My, My "Shitty Ass". You know what, Beavis and Butthead are smarter than you and I mean it! At least they made sense!

I for one cherish the flag as it represents to me more than any one of you..........my freedom!

So....to the supposed "Revolutionary Youth Collective" I have a message for you...........Get a grip, grow up for starters........and go back and learn algebra or something......maybe the ABC's would be a good start.

I doubt it, but maybe you will then be able to add up 2 and 2.


Beavis and Butthead are cartoon characters 05.May.2004 01:57


And Oh! I feel a big one coming on. I'm going to shit on your shitty flag! Stars and Wipes!

And P.S., I can add 2 and 2. That's 2 number two's. ha ha ha smell my flag!

pissing people off and alienating them is the FUCKING POINT 05.May.2004 02:48

not a liberal

well fer duh burning the flag pisses people off. that's the point! when you burn a flag, you're not trying to make friends; you're expressing anger. the idea that every action needs to be media friendly and somehow inviting and warm is a liberal fantasy, based on the idea that people can be reached through proper behavior and education. sorry! ain't gonna work! and if it ain't gonna work, why not just express yourself? the flag deserves to be burned. that's the truth. the people who "fought for" that flag were brainwashed to think that a piece of cloth was worth risking their life for (and delusional to believe that it represented anything real), and it's their problem to GET OVER IT not our problem to cater to their ignorance. the liberal fear of "alienating people" is one of that sorry movement's biggest obstacles to being honest. and people don't respect dishonesty. say what you will, popular or unpopular, and say it how you want to say it, with a letter-to-the-editor or a torched old glory, and if you're being truthful, you'll get some respect. the key is truth. and the liberals and moderates and progressives are pretty wildly out-of-touch with the truth most of the time, most tragically with their own personal version.

stop calculating, and start living.

Onthe 05.May.2004 02:54


To PDX Moderate:

This is a very repressive country. Your idea of freedom is really an illusion. Try communicating with enough people to develop a serious social dialog. The media, airwaves and dwindling public spaces make the fact that you can say what you want almost meaningless.

The US was built on the genocide of many many millions of Native peoples. It has not been any better along the way. Think Dresden, think Nagasaki. The US is the most brutal killer of life the world has ever seen. If the human race, and much of life on this planet goes extinct, the US will be the primary cause.

The US flag is the symbol of the culture of death. It should be destroyed. It is an abomination. Just because lots of people want to live in illusions about the nature of this country is no reason to cater to this denial.

You are not a moderate. You are in denial as this country hastens the destruction of the earth. That is not moderate. Just the lie that an attitude that does little to challenge the culture of death can be called moderate shows how perverted the psyche of the US mind has become.

Fly the flag lowly 05.May.2004 12:56

cognitive dissident

March 20th I was downtown and got a little bit too close and too downwind of a flag burning near the pioneer square. It was quite a stench! I commented to a nice looking young fellow wearing a black sweatshirt with a hood and asked, "What's that thing made of?" He thought for a second and replied, "I think it is made from some petrochemical substance." I laughed and thought what a great reply!

There is a lot of truth to his answer in the context of our dependence on oil and our determination to get it cheap and willingness to shed blood over it. But I'd bet that Betsy Ross used all natural fibers and back then, petrochemical was not even in the dictionary. So when a flag is burned to make a statement, is it a statement about what our country is now, or what it has become?

I cringe whenever a flag is burned. It is an affront to the nice mythology that we've all been taught about what this nation stands for. It's discomforting to have our myths shattered! But it's also a part of growing up and waking up. I'll not be the one to light the match, but respect those who do. A little cognitive dissonance never hurt anyone.

And for those who strongly believe in the flag protocol, note that even the president of the united states can use a flag for self-expression.

On the Illusions of "unity" in a Nation whose movements have no principles! 05.May.2004 13:28

John Paul Cupp anti_imperialist_solidarity@yahoo.com

I don't know much about the RYC. I suspect they have many of the same failing as other youth organizations in the US historically have had. The question though is if they are moving forward or backwards.

Their enthusiasm to confront Nazis, Pro-US chauvenists, and Zionists, is on some level very encouraging, because it is a sign that they on some level understand the depths of opertunitism and chauvenism in the US.

Let's face it, our unity can only exist within PRINCIPLED PARAMETERS. Certain things are non negotiable.

What is the fascism in power, if it does not have pro-US sentiment as its strenghtening force.

We can follow the blatant opertunism of "red suspenders" which would be discredited as more ameriKKKan "working class" organizing, more "lessor of two evils pragmatism" etc, and we will find that the "working people" we wish to bring to solid positions will unite not as workers but as ameriKKKans. It makes sense for Iraqis to unite as arabs, as muslims, as Iraqis right now, but not for AmeriKKKans because this is an imperialist country. It is not in the midst of a national liberation struggle against a great power sucking out its life force, integrity, and culture.

To my friends, in the Revolutionary Youth Collective, you are on the right track. The primary front against Imperialism and globalism is in IRAQ AND PALESTINE, VIA THEIR ARMED ANTI-OCCUPATION RESISTANCE.
Our support for this front is non-negotiable if we are serious about revolution. This is a red line in the sand, which must be laid down. To win the masses to a principled stance requires we must first organize along the lines of pro-resistance and resistance and challenge the opertunists and imperialists who act as gatekeeper of our movements in order to cut our throats, and to ensure support for Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan, is right were the imperialists and zionists want it, MARGINALIZED AND DISCREDITED.

Keep doing what you are doing. I would rather work with an ultra leftist group, which doesn't have a long range view on strategies and tactics that likes to plant bombs the way the weather underground did, like say an anarchist or muslims cell or some sort than I would, these fools like "red suspendars" who suggest we fight fascism via concilitory behaviour and flushing our internaitonalist and pro-resistance socio-political integrity down the toilet, in order to unite with the lowest common denomenator as the liberal-"left" wing of the imperialist pole.

Blah Blah an ameriKKKan flag. That people still have such hangs up about it proves that is as effective as ever as a tactic for laying down red lines or demarcation. The problem is not this tactic, the problem is our overall stragey, and this stupid concept of "anti-authoritarianism" that eats away at the discpline of revolutionary ranks, and replaces it with liberal work ethic, and an "anything goes" ideological miss mess which is how very dangerous ideologies have hsitorically eaten away and broken in.

We will listen to red suspendars and these other idiots who talk about revolutionary and progressive when they stand in public in support of the armed resistance against the US imperialist and the zionist entity. Until then they are our enemy, as they are playing on the ideological backwardsness of the naive, to win them to the FASCIST and IMPERIALIST camp under the guise of "left" "working class" "unity" "revolutioinary" and "progressive".

The key of our era is less to fight nazis than it is to fight FAKE leftists FAKE anti-imperialists etc. Without this we will never have movement of any sorts, and we are left naked and shivering before the god of money!

not a liberal 07.May.2004 11:35


as I stated: "I'll just look the other way"

If all you wish to do is piss people off, then what do you really stand for?

Nothing thats what. If society was completely just you'd still have a problem with it. You're malaise of craving attention for all the self percieved wrongs done against you personally are just symptoms. Since you really don't want a place in society, why not just remove youself from it. I'm not suggesting suicide of course, you can just retreat to the mountains and be a hermit.