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Distinctions and Similarities of Flag Burning and Tea Sinking

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Here we go again. Protesters are burning symbolic cloth called flags, and kooks are calling them communists or some other degradation for doing so. The criticizers question the act and other similar fence-demolishing as violent. Before we criticize people for destroying an object or shoot them in the head with a non-lethal projectile for standing somewhere too long, let's learn a little bit of history.  

The sole reason people are burning flags is to get kooks angry -- angry enough to go so far as to learn something about what is really going on. For starters, the United States Flag was not designed by Betsy Ross. Actually, the design is completely unoriginal to the point of being a copy. No, I am not a communist -- the US flag is a variation of the British East India flag design. With that in mind, the flag might represent corporate supportive attitude to people who might be more politically sensitive than your average burger eater.  

The Boston Tea Party was inspired out of the ruthless exploits conducted by the British East India Company. This protest was one of the most powerful acts of defiance ever. The act was so powerful that, more than a century later, it inspired Gandhi's salt march.  

The Boston Tea Party, arguably the most powerful protest and example of people power, was an act of defiance, where they destroyed boxed tea. They destroyed an object which symbolized problematic exploitation. They did so to anger their neighbors so that they would stop milking cows for just a moment and lift their heads to learn what was going on.   And with that in mind, only fascist corporatists would have a problem with burning a piece of cloth to get the attention of their less politically sensitive neighbors.

It is critical that we make distinctions between objects, like flags and people -- living beings who share the planet with us for a brief moment in time. Individuals experience violence. Objects cannot experience anything. Objects can be destroyed, but there is no violence in breaking inanimate things or burning symbolic cloth. The Boston Tea Party is arguably the most American act in our history. A protest where people destroyed tea leaves representative of exploitation. The tea leaves did not experience violence and neither does cloth.

Destruction is not necessarily violence. However, shooting at people is violent. Destruction of the environment is violent. Behaving as if we live in a war zone is violent. I find it difficult to believe that our armed forces would behave as violently towards peaceful protesters in a war zone -- say Iraq -- as the OPD behaved toward people in Oakland. Ask Scott Olsen or any other veteran.

No, destruction is not violent, unless one destroys the home of others, enslaves them, exploits them, removes their food and ability to make a living and survive. If someone destroys your home, even if it is a tent, that is violent. If someone burns symbolic cloth to get people's attention, that is a protest. Kooks ought to learn the difference and learn why people would burn symbolic cloth. Destroying a symbolic piece of cloth is not violent, it is instigative thought. I hope people do not hold some symbolic cloth above an actual living, breathing being, especially protesters of the same merit as those who challenged the oligarchs of the British East India Company and King George.       

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The symbolic flag burning is to call attention to the actual values and infrastructure of a nation that is figuratively afire and literally falling apart. The protesters are not burning the country; they are not disgracing American ideals, they are calling attention to the burning and fleecing of individuals and American ideals. They are embracing American ideals. It is arguably negative to destroy objects. But to destroy symbolic objects -- tea then and flags now -- is to call attention to the destruction of much more valuable objects by greater powers.

The social debate being catalyzed by the unreasonable and reprehensible treatment of protesters in tents with the corresponding unreasonable courtesies being awarded to institutions by curtseying politicians is a debate on institutions and individuals. The debate extends from the same confusion that exists concerning the debate on the subject of destruction and violence.  

On one side you have people like Mitt Romney, who is obviously friend of no man, gleefully proposing that "Corporations are people too my friend." On the other side you have people, individuals who have been put on the fringe by institutions gaining the rights of man and, in some cases, more rights than any man. On one side you have the Supreme Court giving the rights of individuals to institutions so they can provide unlimited corporate political funding. On the other side you have individuals who have had their rights removed and belittled, their neighborhoods environmentally devastated, and their right to free speech removed -- all for corporate growth. The status quo, morally worthy of protest by any measure, is a corrupting political process entangling corporations and governments to an extent Mussolini himself would have been in awe.

"Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power." ~Benito Mussolini

Every American should protest institutional intimacies. The distinct American attitude -- American exceptionalism -- is slowly disappearing among most uneducated, gadgetry fascinated, politically apathetic or politically zealous folks today, but it is alive and well among the Occupy Wall Street movement.  

American exceptionalism is the perspective that individuals ought to be placed above institutions, individuals should be exalted and institutions should be restrained. And more than that, institutions should be separated, always. This is the reason for separation of the Legislative, Judiciary and Executive branches. And more important, this is the reason to separate church and state and hopefully, I pray, to separate states from corporations. Differentiating individuals from institutions and then separating institutions from other institutions and limiting their power is American exceptionalism.   And, if I have to burn a piece of cloth get you to understand this, I gladly will.

If we continue down the road the Supreme Court paved and Romney travels and pretends is justifiable logic, we will all be living under an Orwellian system of war and prison -- where institutions have human faces like Uncle Sam and operate under the same oligarchical collectivism as Orwell's 1984 with the rights of men, without hindrance of thirst or age or falling sick due to industrial waste.  

Institutions are not individuals. American exceptionalism is exemplified in the OWS movement due to, and not despite of, flag burning.      



About Ethan Indigo Smith:

Activist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to Mendocino, California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan's work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humor.

The events of September 11, 2001 inspired him to write his first book, The Complete Patriot's Guide to Oligarchical Collectivism, an insightful exploration of history, philosophy and contemporary politics. His more recent publications include:

  • Tibetan Fusion a book of simple meditative practices and movements that can help you access and balance your energy
  • The Little Green Book of Revolution an inspirational book based on ideas of peaceful revolution, historical activism and caring for the Earth like Native Americans
  • The Matrix of Four, The Philosophy of the Duality of Polarity on the subject of the development of individual consciousness
  • 108 Steps to Be in The Zone a set of 108 meditative practices and steps toward self discovery and individual betterment, including techniques to develop balance, transmute sexual energy and better the self
  • and the controversial book, Terra-ist Letters, a work that humorously contrasts the very serious issues of global nuclear experimentation promotion and global marijuana prohibition

For more information, visit Ethan on Facebook and check out Ethan's author page on Amazon.

The Complete Patriot's Guide

The Complete Patriot's Guide to Oligarchical Collectivism

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