Hillary Rodham Clinton has agreed to co-sponsor a bill by Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett that would make it illegal for anyone to intimidate any other person by burning the flag, to burn someone else’s flag or to desecrate the flag on federal property. At the same time, however, Clinton continues to oppose efforts to amend the Constitution to prohibit flag burning.
My first question of many for Senator Clinton is this: “Are all flags created equal?” Today is “Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day” and to reflect on that awful reminder of the ignition of our ongoing responsibility to fight to protect our Democracy, I am asking you today to burn an American flag to prove the United States is stronger than colors embedded in the warp and woof of a bolt of cloth.
Burning an American flag has historically been the ultimate visual sign of protest and dissent in America and it has yet to wrench us asunder — despite the cries and howls from the hinterlands and the hallways of congress — hundreds of flags have been burned over the last hundred years and the state of the union is solid, intact and as ever defiant against those who wish to do us evil in our midst. I’ve always found it curious when people get upset when a flag is burned. American Flag burning is necessary and important to marking our future as it pocks our past.
Old Glory isn’t being burned. Old Glory is safely hanging in tatters in the Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. Flag burning has been an easy attempt on both sides of the political flame to ignite the other into doing something stupid to prove the point of the other that the other is stupid. A burning flag should be reflected in our wet eyes as the voice of freedom singing against the darkening air of repression.
An American flag is only a symbol of something greater. Are all American flags sacred? Does golden fringe on a flag add more fury to the immediacy of burning? Is a plastic flag less valuable? If I draw an American flag on the sidewalk and then wash it off later — would I be accused of being disrespectful of the United States? Is sidewalk flag washing just as insulting as burning flags into ash?
The American flag isn’t sewn with fragmented fibers that creak in the wind or get insulted when turned to soot. An American flag is a value that can never be touched by human hands but it is always flying within us and held in the human heart as an experience worthy of respect and death. The true protection of the American flag comes in the defense of each other — without pause — without quibbling — without any antidotes or maybes or perhaps we’ll sees.
When we stand with each other and defend all our unique human core values, we become bearers of the burning flag — and even if we all burst into flame in a wild attack in the night there will be others to replace us who tightly fly the American flag within them as well — and to suggest our dedication and our being and our nationhood and our patriotism are as fragile as fabric flapping in the wind is to destroy an idea upon which our nation was founded: Free people deserve free speech and when either are chained, the matches are sure to follow.