On the Issue of Flag Burning

Posted: April 29, 2007 in News and politics

I am compelled to reflect on my bias against the burning of our country’s flag. I read an article about the ceremony of burning used flags in a respectful manner.

Recently somebody wrote a litter to the editor of the Kitsap Sun denigrating the detainees at Guantanamo. He eschews the idea that the detainees should be allowed to raise a fuss about the inconsiderate treatment of the Koran by their guards.  Showing a foolish inconsistency, the writer announces that he holds our country’s flag with great reverence and supports an anti-flag burning amendment.

I wrote to him directly; and, told him how inconsistent that is. I told him of my opinion that all symbols aren’t to be revered in their own right. That false reverence trivializes the memory of the thing the symbol represents.

This morning I did a second-guess and began to see some sense to the anti-flag burning amendment. I started to feel the emotion that spurs those who have this over-blown nationalism (vs. patriotism)*. Once I suppressed this emotion I returned to the sense of why the amendment in question is unwise. To promote this amendment is to promote intolerance for sensibilities born of alternative cultures within our vast melting pot that we are so proud to advance. Ah! Wait a minute. Doesn’t the concept of melting pot imply that cultural differences are to be dissolved in the interest of a better sense of community? Of course, in our tradition we have tolerated – at least on a legal plane – the observances of individual religions and cultures. We may, in our ignorance, not understand the religions and cultures that hold certain sensibilities; but, we do tolerate them in our laziness that keeps us from investigating and becoming knowledgeable of those religions and cultures we become aware of in our society.  

Recently, I have entertained the thought that maybe we should expand the anti-flag burning amendment to include all symbols of religions and cultures in our society. I can’t help but wonder how far the amendment would get if you added that. Does the reader at least consider this food for thought?*I have come to believe that nationalism can be contrasted to patriotism if you associate nationalism with intolerance towards other nations. Patriotism, in my view, is an exercise in loving our country without regard to other countries. In feeling a sense of patriotism we limit our thoughts, temporarily, to not thinking about any other nation at all. To me that is acceptable to increase our devotion; and, therefore, our sense of duty, to our country. As long as this sense of duty doesn’t trample on other nations’ right to sovereignty, it is not a problem. This is at the heart of the poor judgment in invading Iraq. To inform oneself more fully about this poorly advised invasion one should periodically pick up The Iraq War Reader. Reading any part of that book will greatly increase one’s understanding of the situation in Iraq.

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