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This is not passive protest....(32 posts)

This is not passive protest....ClydeTri
Mar 11, 2003 7:43 AM
American flags burned and slashed
By Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell, Staff Writer
Monday, March 10, 2003 -

LA HABRA -- Antiwar protesters burned and ripped up flags, flowers and patriotic signs at a Sept. 11 memorial that residents erected on a fence along Whittier Boulevard days after the terrorist attacks in 2001 and have maintained ever since.

However, although officers witnessed the vandalism Saturday afternoon, police did not arrest three people seen damaging the display because they were "exercising the same freedom of speech that the people who put up the flags were,' La Habra Police Capt. John Rees said Monday.

"For this to be vandalism, there had to be an ill-will intent,' he said.

Rees said in order for police to take any action, the owner of the fence would have to file a complaint.

Jeff Collison, owner of The RV Center in La Habra, who has allowed residents to add patriotic symbols to the fence on his property, said he just might do that.

"Their free speech stops at destruction of private property. If they are allowed to come on my property and burn flags, does that mean I can go to City Hall or the police station and light their flags on fire because that is freedom of speech? To me, this is vandalism,' Collison said.

Some residents Monday hung signs criticizing those who destroyed the display.

Tracey Chandler, a Whittier mother of four who has maintained the spontaneous memorial since it was created by other area residents soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said she was shocked by the destruction.

"They trashed 87 flags, ripped 11 memorial tiles made by myself and my children out of the ground and glued the Bob Dylan song to a sign that said, 'America, land of the brave, home of the free,' ' she said.

The Bob Dylan song she referred to is "With God on Our Side,' an antiwar anthem of the 1960s.

"It's unbelievable, because there were absolutely no political messages on this fence. It was all about supporting our troops, which could mean bringing them home, and about remembering 9-11.'

Les Howard, a sociology professor at Whittier College, said the incident might be an indication of some confusion among people trying to stop a possible war against Iraq but uncertain how to express their sentiments. However, he said he does not condone the destruction of symbols important to those who erect them.

"Some think (the best way to support the troops) is to not question their role. Some think the best way is to pursue all means possible to avoid putting them in danger,' he said. "That still does not excuse any desecration of people's symbolic participation.'

Chandler said she plans to rebuild the Sept. 11 memorial.

"We are going to rebuild this memorial, and it will be brighter, bigger and better than ever,' Chandler said.

Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028, or by e- mail at
Mar 11, 2003 7:51 AM
Ok, I'll say it. If burning a flag isn't anti-American, what is? I know it's not PC to label people anti-American (aren't you known by what you do?), but at some point, you cross the line from "loyal opposition" to being just that.

This isn't just speech, either, as it's destruction of property of others. I say round them up and throw them in the slammer for 30 days.

Mar 11, 2003 9:11 AM
I don't really care if people want to burn an American flag--it's just a symbol. But they should at least go buy their own flag to burn!

Jail is too nice for people like this. I think they need their asses kicked.
yeah it's a symbol...but a powerful oneColnagoFE
Mar 11, 2003 9:30 AM
When I was a snot-nosed brat in high school I once told my dad that I didn't see anything wrong with people burning the flag and that it was just a symbol. He replied that to him it was the same as spitting on the memory of all those who had died protecting our country. I didn't have a really good reply to that and had to somewhat agree at that point. Personally, I'd defend to the death someone's right to burn a flag, but they will need to live with the message they are sending by doing so. It's definately Anti-American by definition whether the protestor thinks so or not. I do tend to think it's a waste of time to make any legislation regarding the burning of a flag like they were trying to do a while back.
I can't even burn leaves!!!hycobob
Mar 11, 2003 9:52 AM
If I burn leaves inside the city limits; its a crime. But, if some POS wants to show how bold he/she is they can, in the name of "freedom of speech", burn a flag! I say if we can't charge them with some form of treason for this, at least charge them with arson or reckless endangerment. If its someone else's flag make them replace it and pay damages to the victom for the pain and suffering incured...$10,000 ought to do nicely per offense.
Mar 11, 2003 10:12 AM
My reply has always been that being able to burn the flag in this country says a lot about why those people died. Yes, it sounds harsh and disrespectful, but it is absolutely true. Without the ideals it symbolizes, which includes the freedom to insult and belittle those ideals, a flag is just a piece of cloth.

I do not burn flags, I don't advocate burning flags, and I think people who burn flags are complete idiots. If I ran into someone about to burn a flag, I would try to snatch it from their hands. But I would do the same if someone were trying to burn a star of David or a crucifix. I have no respect for people who purposely destroy symbols that other people value.
anti-American?Me Dot Org
Mar 11, 2003 9:58 AM
First of all, I deplore the act of tearing down a memorial to 9/11, and burning someone else's American Flag. If someone wants to destroy something they've bought or built, fine, otherwise it's destruction of private property.

The Flag IS a symbol, and it IS a powerful one. But principles are more important than symbols. When we believe that the flag is more important than one the principles for which it stands (free speech and free expression) our patriotism will have calcified into object worship.

Free Speech has a price. The price is letting people say things that will offend you or upset you. It's allowing people to stand in front of a napalm lab with pictures of children burned by napalm. It's allowing people to stand in front of an abortion clinic with pictures of aborted fetuses.

Free speech can make it very difficult to hide from our own assumptions. That can be painful, but ultimately I think it is good.
for the Christians...jose_Tex_mex
Mar 11, 2003 10:13 AM
I think it was A Whitney Brown on Saturday Night Live that said something to the effect of:

The only thing that is crazier than a country who loves its freedoms so much that it allows citizens to burn the flag is a God that loves his people so much that he gave his only son.

Kind of makes you think...
What would you guys thinkOldEdScott
Mar 11, 2003 10:18 AM
about burning a Confederate flag? In, say, Jackson, Mississippi?
CivilityJon Billheimer
Mar 11, 2003 10:39 AM
I don't think the issue is free speech at all. As noted above, it's terribly incivil and disrespectful to trash a symbol that is important and valued by others. There has been a terrible decline in civility and personal behaviour in modern "civil" society. And using constitutional freedoms to justify your unacceptable public behaviour does not change that fact, in my opinion.
That's what I was getting at.OldEdScott
Mar 11, 2003 11:14 AM
My team, the Left, is too often myopic about the personal, as opposed to political, effect of things they do. I think flag burning is clearly protected speech; I also think it's a terribly hurtful thing to do to fellow Americans. If you want to protest the government, fair enough. Why do it in a way that hurts and alienates your countrymen? Not civil, and makes no tactical sense.

Unlike many on the Left -- probably because I'm a Southerner -- I also bristle at the vilification of the Confederate flag by many liberals and PC types. Again, I think it's because they fail to recognize the personal, as oppose to political, symbolism of that flag. There is a heritage and a history attached to that flag that has not one thing to do with slavery.
Burning the confederate flagmoneyman
Mar 11, 2003 3:07 PM
Go for it! Can I light the match? The CSA was in direct rebellion with the Union to which they had signed on many years before the first shot was fired in Charleston. The symbolism of that flag, in addition to its endorsement of slavery, has everything to do with an illegal rebellion. There never was a right to secede, and the actions of the so called CSA were in direct conflict with the Constitution of the United States.

That flag should be remanded to a landfill and its rebellious leaders should be tried post mortem as traitors. R.E. Lee was no hero.

See, you've just hurt my feelings as a Southerner.OldEdScott
Mar 11, 2003 3:14 PM
time for a duel? nmDougSloan
Mar 11, 2003 3:30 PM
Burning the confederate flagClydeTri
Mar 12, 2003 5:52 AM
Everything you say is debateable. It was not determined at the time of secession that secession was illegal. Also, at that point in history, many people felt more allegiance to the states, than to the union, dont forget, many of the states had been chartered and goverened well before the US was founded. When people choose sides in the south during the war, they were often quoted as saying that they didnt choose for the south or north, but for the state they lived in. The Constitution gave the states strong powers which have been gradually eroded over the years. And to many people that is a problem, I for one believe de-centralized government, as less federal as possible. The people in my community know more how to govern ourselves than a congressman in the other part of the country. Its a philosphy.
Go back to History class...hycobob
Mar 12, 2003 7:09 AM
The Confederate Battle Flag wasn't an endorsement of slavery, it represented the southern confederation of states. Not many in the south approved of or wanted slaves; even if they had could have afforded them. Just like not many in the north today are involved in organized crime or work on Wall Street. Neither generalization is fair. Then, state law was the rule, as centralized government wasn't trusted. We can see the logic in that if we look at the welfare state we've become.

"In order to form a more perfect union" could have been, and can still now be interpreted as NOT meaning that the south supply the north's lack of resources. The reason for seceding was economic; not slavery.

As for your remarks toward Gen. Robert E. Lee, you are wrong. He was first and formost, a Virginian. That is the reason he TURNED DOWN the command of the Union Forces. Plus he abhored slavery. Did you know that? He would have easily been the next President if the Civil War hadn't come along.
I'll go in right after youmoneyman
Mar 12, 2003 7:40 AM
Because its obvious you haven't been there in a while.

"... the south supply the north's lack of resources." I don't know how you could be more wrong. The South's lack of resources, excluding cotton, was a major reason for their loss. They just did not have the capability to continue the manufacture of war machines that the Union did. In may ways, the war was won by attrition, i.e., the Union simply had more men and materiel to outlast the states in rebellion.

Slavery, and subsequently the fear of the loss of slavery and the economy, were the only reasons for the war.

Lee was a traitor. An outstanding general, a true leader of men, a charismatic figure in history, but a traitor to his country and the oath he swore when he took his commission.

I am quite aware that he was Lincoln's choice to lead the Army and that he turned it down. That makes his traitorous acts all the more unforgiveable.

As to Lee's possible election to President, I would be interested to hear more about that. In all the books I've read and the study I've done about the Civil War, I don't believe I have ever heard that one. Perhaps I missed a chapter or skipped that class, but I would be happy to hear your justification of that statement.

In so many ways, this war continues to be fought.

See you in class. But I won't let you copy from my notes.

Don't wait too long...hycobob
Mar 12, 2003 8:10 AM
The rewriting and us/them/north/south/east/west/black/white interpretation of history has got my dander all wound up. But thats to be expected. Sooner or later this conflict coming up in Iraq will read something like "the patriotic Iraqi leader Saddam rose from the shackles of slavery the white devil Bush has imposed on the world".

I have to stop and breathe now...the debate on the civil war, will never be over so long as (we) still keep listening to the ranting nutballs who say they're owed something from what happened 150 years ago. I have been down as low as you can go, so I know anyone can pull themselves up. Slavery and seccation(?) aside, we have too many other important decissions to a carbon fiber or Ti seatpost for my Sampson Ti bike?
Oh, man - Get real....moneyman
Mar 12, 2003 8:17 AM
Carbon fiber has it ALL OVER Ti!

"secession", btw nmDougSloan
Mar 12, 2003 8:39 AM
That was driving me crazy...nmhycobob
Mar 12, 2003 8:46 AM
Confederate FlagsMe Dot Org
Mar 11, 2003 3:12 PM
First of all I absolutely agree with you that the left often engages in hurtful displays that alienate a lot of people, and I'm also someone left of center.

I'd really like understand your perspective on the Confederate Flag. I understand that most Confederate Soldiers did not own slaves, and that the Civil War started over states' rights, not slavery per se.

But the "Stars and Bars" (if we are to take its Founders at their word) is the battle flag of a foreign nation, one that was responsible for the death of more Americans in war than any other Nation. When the Confederacy invaded Union territory and captured blacks, it sent them into slavery. There were many instances of Confederate troops killing surrendered Black Union Soldiers. This lead to the halt of prisoner exchanges, which helped precipitate the problems of Andersonville, one of the great horrors of the war.

Just like there are Germans that served their country faithfully in World War II that had nothing to do with the persecution of the Jews, there were Confederates who had nothing to do with Slavery. But if the Confederacy had won independence, slavery as an institution would have been perpetuated, and a great evil continued.

I'm not opposed to battle monuments honoring the valor of Confederate Soldiers, but I can certainly understand why African-Americans can see that battle flag as the symbol of those who fought to ensure their enslavement. And I think that it is fair to mention that while the vast majority of white Southerners were pro-Confederacy, there were also "Lincolnites" in virtually every Southern State.

Anyway, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject.
No question, I understand black antipathy towardOldEdScott
Mar 11, 2003 4:09 PM
that flag. And no doubt the Confederate cause was irrevocably corrupted by the cancer of slavery. But slavery was just that -- a cancer in an otherwise healthy, even noble cause. Eventually it killed that cause, as thoughtful Southerners knew it would. James Longstreet himself, Lee's greatest lieutenant, argued that the South would never win the war as long as it retained slavery.

Those who despise the South for slavery should despise pre-war America too, since it was our Founders who declared it legal in this new country. And if you hate Lee for it, you should look on Jefferson and other Founders who owned slaves with similar scorn.

I would also remind you that Lee never, ever, said he was fighting for slavery. He was fighting for home, for Virginia. For probably 90 percent of Confederate soldiers, the same could be said. Poor men don't suffer and die that valiantly just to preserve an institution that mainly benefit the upper classes. They were fighting for family and home and nation. And when it was over, Lee said simply, The matter is settled, and told his men to go home and be good citizens. WHich is what he did, with never a bitter word. To see him as anything but a hero is to not recognize heroism in this world.

I am only aware of two occasions on which the South invaded the North -- a brief incursion into Maryland and the disaster at Gettysburg in PA -- and all accounts I've read say Lee maintained perfect and proper discipline. I'm not aware of Lee's army capturing free blacks and sending them into slavery, but if you have citations I'll be happy to read them.

The other poster above -- the $$ fellow -- says the South never had a right to succeed. Well, winners write history. The colonies had no right to leave Britain either. The fact is, succession was an open question. No one really KNEW. Learned men debated the issue. One thing the Civil War did was settle it once and for all. If the South had won, it would have been settled in the affirmative.

To understand what was noble about the Confederacy (and I hate to say this), you almost have to be a Southerner. There is, still, a sense here that we are a separate country. Even in homogenized America, we are different. You think of us that way too -- don't say you don't. We are the last group in America it's acceptable, even politically correct, to make jokes about. I'm certain that sense was even stronger in the early 19th Century, in the years leading up to the war. Put simply, we felt like a separate country. Eventually, we decided to formalize what we had felt all along. It was a simple expression of the right to self-determination, nationalist in impulse, corrupted by slavery to be sure, but it would have existed without slavery. Northern-Southern cultures had very little in common.

But finally, the soft feeling we have for that flag has not one thing to do with slavery. It is grounded in admiration for the terrible suffering and immense valor of the rebel soldiers, the grunts, who fought so bravely against such impossible odds. Their sacrifice is remembered here. It is also recognition that we are, indeed, a separate culture within America, and probably a better culture than the rest of America allows. The flag is a symbol of pride and remembrance. And it's too bad it's tied up with a really nasty, shameful stain in our past. But the entire country shares that stain with us. And your history of race relations since the war is no better than ours, and in some ways it is worse.

All that said, I would not display the flag. It is part of Southern mores that you don't insult someone unless you intend to, and many blacks and many whites would take grave offense at that flag. Since I do not intend to insult them, I will not show that flag. But I do think it's a symbol of more good than evil, and deserves at least the respect of being left alone, not burned or buried as the $$ fellow proposes.
No question, I understand black antipathy towardMe Dot Org
Mar 11, 2003 11:09 PM
The South may be "a separate culture", but Bush is from Texas (and Gore from Tennessee) Clinton was from Arkansas, George the Elder was ostensibly registered in Texas (Okay, he was a Maine carpetbagger), and Carter was from Georgia.

Certainly a Southern address doesn't seem to be too much of a handicap on the national political front.

Still, the South has tasted defeat in war that the rest of the country has not. In 1866, 20% of Mississippi's state budget went for artificial limbs. You cannnot even begin to translate that number into meaningful figure in America today. And I can understand why the name of Sherman would not be venerated in Georgia or South Carolina.

Yet even if Americans at the time did not recognize it, slavery was at the crux of the Civil War. Would there have been an effective Southern Militia without an abolitionist movement and John Brown's revolt at Harpers Ferry? Would there have been precurser to the civil war in "bleeding Kansas" if the question were not slavery? Long before Lincoln, Southerners were frightened by the prospect of emancipation. John C. Calhoun wrote "The Abolitionists would raise the Negroes to a social and politcal equality with the whites, and that being effected we would soon see the present condition of the two races reversed. They, and their Northern allies would be the masters, and we the slaves."

That sentiment reflected the views of not just slaveholders, but many Southern whites. Many Southerners fought because they were afraid of losing their ascendancy over the Negro in the south, and with it, their way of life. I'm not saying that Northerners weren't prejudiced (just look at the New York Draft riots). But abolition did not threaten the Northern way of life.

Even without slavery, there were differences between the North and South. There would have been quarrels about tax structures, tariffs, etc. But I don't think those quarrels would have resulted in the dissolution of the Union.

And remember that sesession happened with the election of Lincoln. He hadn't been sworn into office, let alone passed any legislation about slavery, states rights, or anything else. He was just seen as being too "radical" by the south, not because he wanted to abolish slavery, but halt its spread. His 1860 inaugural speech was a model of conciliation.

I'm not sure how slavery can be "a cancer in in an otherwise healthy, even noble cause". Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevenson wrote "Our new government is founded upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the White Man." Remember in the final desparate months of the war, when African Americans were allowed to serve in the Confederacy, many Southerners opined that if African Americans would make good soldiers, the very premise of the Confederacy was negated. It seems that slavery was integral to the cause of the Confederacy.

Longstreet was a great General (Lee should have listened to him at Gettysburg), but I think his view of slavery was not common. As for Lee, he was not only a gentleman, he was a brilliant General. He saw his allegiance as being to his state and not his country. Henry Adams said of Lee: "It was all the worse that he was a good man, had a good character, and acted conscientiously. It's always the good men who do the most harm."

In 1837 Abraham Lincoln said something that I think was apropos not only of his time, but of today:

"Whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some transatlantic giant step the earth and crush us with a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River, or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever - or die by suicide."
From that $$ fellowmoneyman
Mar 12, 2003 7:22 AM
All that eloquence, Ed, and you still miss the point. The Civil War was ALL about slavery. State's rights was the coverup. As Me Dot Org opines, none of the events that led to the Civil War would have even taken place without slavery. The very question of secession would never have been raised without slavery. To say that the confederate flag represents anything BUT slavery and armed rebellion is to deny the reality of history. That flag should be kept as a keepsake of history, a reminder of what can go wrong when people let their greed guide their principles and decisions.

There was nothing noble in the battle. There was great tragedy and sadness, pain and sorrow, but nobility is a fantasy of the politicians who direct the war from the statehouse. The Alabama farmer, Johnny Reb himself, had nothing to do with demanding secession. That was a cause propagated by the slaveholding members of the legislatures in the Southern capitals. Johnny Reb couldn't even read, much less demand separation from the Union.

And let's settle this question about loyalty to the states over the Union. That was certainly the belief of those who led the rebellion, but it was a convenient coverup for their desire to maintain their extraordinarily profitable way of life. When the slaveholders saw their way of life threatened, the platitudes of "States Rights" came to the forefront to justify their illegal actions.

Finally, when the Colonies separated from Mother England, they (we) were just that: colonies. We were not a group of people who had willingly entered into an agreement of Union with the King. We were dictated to, had no representation, and had rights that were bestowed upon us by the King at his will. That flies in the face of the leading document in the struggle for freedom, the one that says something about "inalienable rights endowed by their Creator." None of that was true of the rebellious states.

What would you guys thinkhycobob
Mar 11, 2003 10:44 AM
How about one of these "protests" taking place at the local VFW hall? Maybe haul down the US and POW flags and try burning them after pissing on them. Then for another statement (after a short hospital stay, if lucky) to protest the impending conflict, publicly cut off their peckers to make them not eligable for combat duty.
about like wearing a "I hate N******s" sign in HarlemDougSloan
Mar 11, 2003 11:19 AM
Like Bruce Willis...
Bruce WIllis has probably got some big bodyguards though (nm)ColnagoFE
Mar 11, 2003 11:36 AM
yes, Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson) nmDougSloan
Mar 11, 2003 11:42 AM
Just to be safe. . .czardonic
Mar 11, 2003 2:25 PM
. . .maybe it could say "Just kidding. Lighten up people." on the back.
witty; 10 points nmDougSloan
Mar 11, 2003 2:33 PM
you'd better be one tough motherf***** is all I'd say (nm)ColnagoFE
Mar 11, 2003 11:34 AM