June 23, 2005

Flag Burning: Desecration?

I posed this question over at the PCCBoard forums, but I wanted to ask it of all of you, my faithful readers (reader? Anyone?):

Why do we call it flag desecration? What is sacred about the flag? Or should I say the Flag?

I agree that the flag is symbolic of the nation. It is symbolic of the sacrifices made by our military. It is symbolic of the sacrifices made by everyday, normal Americans who make this nation what it is.

But sacred?

Interesting to look back through American history: the flagbearers in the Civil War, men who didn't carry a rifle, but a banner. Often the first to fall -- but another would take their place, usually before the flag hit the ground. And most of the time, the flag was simply a regimental flag, not even the national flag. Almost a hundred and fifty years ago, flags were considered important. To capture the enemy's banner was the ultimate insult to them -- a sign that they were totally defeated.

But sacred?

It seems to me that the Flag has become simply a part of a nationalistic religion (and I actually thought this before I read this piece on AlterNet). The Nation is our deity. The President is the great High Priest. And the Flag is the sacred symbol (similar to Christianity's cross or the Star of David). Don't disagree with the High Priest. Don't blaspheme the Nation. And don't desecrate that sacred symbol of our Nationality, the Flag.

I don't like flag burning. I have little respect for flag burners. But I have enough respect for them that, while I disagree with what they are saying, I will fight for their freedom to say it -- and my freedom to disagree as loudly and publically as I want.

Tombs are desecrated. Religious buildings, symbols, and books are desecrated. Flags are burned.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 09:39 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 Using the word desecrate implies that the flag is sacred, since desecrate means to violate the sacredness of the object. And calling the flag sacred implies that it is holy, an object of worship. So using the word desecrate is inaccurate, misleading, or at best hyperbole. So I agree that we shouldn't overstate the burning of flags. People are allowed to make foolish statements. And it is foolish to be too offended by a fool.

Posted by: Jim Clark at July 01, 2005 03:41 PM (ArCd6)

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