Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Flag Burning......

This past summer in Cleveland, Donald J. Tramp and I stood in the square entertaining. As spokespuppet for STAT (Stand Together Against Trump), he told jokes to the crowd as I was decked out in my cutoff shirt and braved the heat. All because I felt the need to express my dismay at a Trump candidacy.

For the most part, the square was nonviolent. The cops relegated people to two sides: Pro-Trump and Anti-Trump. It was like a music festival more than anything; Lollapalooza with a political feel. The Trump people had their guns attached to their hip, doing the inbred thing with pride. Some took photos with Donny. Actually, a lot were just soaking up the day. It was history for all of us. I had a lot of respect for those who I disagreed with, because we were all in the heat speaking our minds because The Constitution gave us that right.

Since our job was to give our water to anyone protesting, many a Trumpkin drank STAT water. And many of us drank Jesus Water aka Trumpkin water. It’s an unwritten rule that even though we disagreed, we respected the guts we all had. Because once you get vocal about your politics, you have people in every direction turning their back on you. Welcome to free speech. Welcome to America.
There was one group, Rev Com, or Revolutionary Communists. While the Trumpkins had their guns strapped to them, Rev Com were the kind of protesters who showed up just to get arrested. During the march, when they joined, several members of STAT exchanged worried glances and someone whispered, “Oh no. Here comes Rev Com. They can get violent.”

Yes, these disorganized, idiotic, super paranoid, nutcases who probably had the bones of Karl Marx in their basements crashed the march that STAT had gotten permits for. Even when Westboro Baptist showed up to the bridge to protest STAT (your protest always has a protest) we never yelled back let alone responded. Now Rev Com was here. It was like it was our birthday, they were too broke to have their own, so they added their name to our cake. However, we had to roll with it.

Getting my puppeteer protest on

Days before, a girl who was with Rev Com had attempted to light a flag on fire. In her quest to express her anger over Trump, she was going to make a statement. Well instead she lit herself on fire. The cop, who was witnessing this screamed, “You idiot, you’re on fire!”

Promptly putting out the fire on her sleeve he apprehended the flag and ordered, “Go home, you’re done for the day.”

Up to that point I had been politically active. I canvassed for an out lesbian politician the day DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was struck down. There was dancing in the street in the West Village where I was. I wrote about domestic violence for The Huffington Post, giving my input as a woman who survived a partner who was physically violent. I even marched in Pride supporting my LGBTQ friends. However, I had never been at an event where a flag was burned. My rage and passion let alone that of anyone around me had ever gotten to that level.

The day of the march, Trump accepted the nomination. We were on the green when we were approached by a Black Lives Matter activist. A young man about 22, he informed me that someone had been arrested for burning a flag. He told me there was a march to the jail as they were going to break this would be revolutionary out, and he was inviting me to come.

What could possibly go wrong?

I was indignant that he was arrested for expressing himself. Maybe tyranny was taking over. Yet I knew the march to the jail could only end badly of course. The members of STAT around me looked into my eyes, begging me to refuse the invite. I did.

As he left, the people around me looked relieved. We had a laugh. Yes, we were peaceful. The whole day had been peaceful and wonderful. However, the laugh was short lived when I saw out of the corner of my eye the young man who had approached us was being coached by Rev Com.
An older hippie informed him, “My first protest, ha! My first arrest, never!”

Seconds later, the older hippies began approaching people informing us the man in the jail was arrested for burning the flag. My mentor, who is an ex cop, was with me. He told me flag burning is legal. However, he was sure there was more to the story. Googling, he found the arrestee had tried to light a flag on fire but failed. However, he had decided the next prudent action was to assault a cop. Needless to say that got him arrested.

I became sickened by the pot stirring, intentional misleading of this group. They had used the young man from BLM. And they got their message out by any destructive means possible. It made me ashamed to share the green with them. STAT had been so peaceful and purposeful with the protest, and we were positive. We believed in what we did, and we know that we were heard.

Rev Com was just there to cause trouble. It made me ill that a cop had to tend, while someone elsewhere in real need was probably terrified or bleeding to death because their hands were being tied by these whackos.

I thought of heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Bobby Sands, and Ghani who protested peacefully. Their message not only resonated, but therein could bring about the conversation of change. After the conversation came the change itself.

I will not stop anyone from burning a flag. It is their right. I will also not tell them how to feel, their rage is also their right. Their pain is their own and I will not dare to condescend to tone police. Yet I will say that the louder you scream the less likely you are to be heard. And the more you scream the less you have to say. And the less you say the more you inhibit the needed conversation.

So can you burn the flag? Yes. Should you burn the flag? Up to you. Do you need to burn the flag? In my opinion there are better ways to be heard. Just saying. It’s all up to you. 

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