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Which Flag Would Jesus Burn?


The flag amendment which just passed the House by a huge margin, and which may pass in the Senate this time around and even become a part of the Constitution, was predictable. After all, the last refuge of a scoundrel is patriotism, and the scoundrels infesting the capital, who put this country into an unwinnable and pointless war based upon lies, along with the gutless sycophants in Congress who backed them, are now being increasingly called to account by an American public finally grown weary of the war and the lies.

What to do? Dredge up that moldering corpse—the flag protection amendment.

The joke is that the flag is desecrated daily for commercial purposes, waving proudly in front of the corporate headquarters of war profiteers like Haliburton, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bechtel, GE, Westinghouse and Exxon Mobil, and the homes of tax cheats like disgraced Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski. It decorates all manner of commercial products from the backsides of women’s shorts to a line of patriotic condoms.

None of this abuse of the national symbol bothers the right-wing charlatans in Washington. Only burning the thing.

The late Yippie co-founder Abbie Hoffman had Congress’ number when he responded to a subpoena to testify in Washington wearing a shirt rendered from a cut-up American flag.

What a pathetic joke it will be for future schoolchildren, reading the high-minded and carefully crafted words of the Constitution, with its careful detailing of the branches of government, the delineation of powers, the enumeration of the rights of the citizenry and the banning of slavery, when they come to this cheap amendment telling them that the beautiful First Amendment guaranteeing free speech which they read earlier is not really true: If they want to protest government actions by burning a piece of red, white and blue cloth, they can be locked up.

And all to cover up the mendacity and cowardice of a gang of war criminals in 2005.

You have to wonder what these important people, who earn $158,100 a year of our tax dollars to do their work, will do next to earn their paychecks. Will they pass a constitutional ban on pie throwing? Make it illegal to parody the president?

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at

He can be reached at:





Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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