Burning Liberty to Save the Flag

Random Lengths News | June 22, 2005
You can count on it every couple of years. Between Flag Day and July Fourth, right before the fireworks start exploding, the scoundrels in Congress who perennially drape themselves in the flag start beating the old tired drum of desecrating the First Amendment to outlaw flag burning, thus distracting public attention from things that really matter.

This year, they’ve really outdone themselves, though. The Congress member who introduced the flag-burning Amendment in the House is Randy Cunningham, a San Diego Republican currently being investigated by the FBI and a federal grand jury for steering defense contracts to a small local firm, MZM Inc., in return for enormous payoffs.

MZM’s founder, Mitchell Wade, took a $700,000 loss buying Cunningham’s overpriced home, and pressured employees to contribute to the company’s PAC, which poured money into Cunningham’s campaign coffers, along with several other key Congress memebers. In return, MZM had 56 such contracts totaling $68,645,909 in fiscal year 2004, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.

That kind of money buys a whole lot of freedom, and whole lot of flags made in China.

But that’s just Cunningham. What else are they using the smoke screen of flag burning to protect us from what? Terrorism? Anarchy? Islamic Fundamentalists? Just remember, it isn’t against the law to burn the stars ‘n’ stripes in any country in the world today and it is only found to be offensive in just one… ours–– the so-called bastion of freedom and liberty.

I can just hear the complaints now from those who have fought and defended America over the years saying that their dead comrades died defending this hallowed cloth. This is untrue. I will say it now before the letters start pouring in, the flag is but the symbol, not the reason or cause for which men and women have served and defended this country throughout our history. The US Constitution and Bill of Rights is the codification of the cause. They are the legal documents, which project and protect the ideals that this flag should but does not always represent. As such, freedom and liberty are just so many letters of the alphabet unless somebody, anybody has the courage to use them, stand up for them, and yes, even die for them. And it often has not always been in war that our greatest heroes have given their last full measure to protect them. As such, burning Old Glory can be seen as an act of patriotism, when it is done to protest some illegal act of war or abuse of power.

The current US Senate Joint resolution #12 to ban flag burning was proposed by that “wonderful defender of freedom and liberty” Orin Hatch from (R) Utah and was endorsed by our “ever courageous” Senator Diane Fienstien (D) CA on June 14, Flag Day. In her speech, proposing a Constitutional Amendment to ban flag burning, she said, “Protecting the flag will not prevent people from expressing their points of view. I believe a Constitutional Amendment returning to our flag the protected status it has had through most of this nation’s history, and that it deserves, is consistent with free speech.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth and actually makes me wonder if Diane hasn’t been smoking the flag rather than defending it!

The thing is, you always have to be suspicious when scoundrels and politicians start wrapping themselves in the flag– it’s usually the last refuge, but from what? Congress is now being asked to extend the “Patriot Act,” that great piece of mid-night legislation hurriedly passed without much inspection after 9/11. This piece of flawed governance has brought us mass arrests, but no convictions, Guantanamo prison abuse with the defiling of the Koran, suspension of our First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment civil rights while the premise for the war in Iraq, which has now been exposed to be based on a series of lies.

Congressmember John Conyers investigation into the “Downing Street Memo,” is the only action our Congress has currently taken to correct the deceptions of the Bush White House to instigate this illegal war. His efforts must be supported. This courageous act by one Congressmember—now supported by 120-odd other Congress members, (excluding our very own Jane Harmon who still claims to be a Democrat), is the most patriotic act Congress can take today (we should all stand up and salute it), except perhaps to file an act of impeachment against Bush and Cheney. But no, we are going to rehash the flag burning ban while we continue to be lied to about the war, spend billions on corrupt contractors and send more soldiers to die for a flag that is increasingly seen by the rest of the world as representing Christian-Corporatism. Let us all now bow in prayer to the cross-of–the-god –almighty- dollar. Amen.

The real problem is that while there are so many other and more important issues confronting this nation with such far reaching consequences, that to waste time arguing over burning flags (most of which are no longer even sewn in the USA) is the penultimate waste of hot air And while there seems to be a shortage of courageous voices defending our inalienable rights, there always seems to be a copious supply of hot air, smoke and mirrors when abridging them.

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Founded in 1979 as a counterbalance to the conservative, corporate- owned daily paper, Random Lengths News draws on the rich history of the Los Angeles Harbor Area. The name harkens back to a description of the lumber that used to...
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