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Republicans Have Stolen the American Flag for Themselves and Don't Want It Desecrated.

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Periodically, the universality of the American flag is superseded when a cause of a politician or political party, usually on the right, is wrapped in the flag in order to associate its identity with the flag. In this situation, as exemplified by the Vietnam War era, an advocate expresses support for the unspoken supplanted cause by proudly flying the flag, while an opponent communicates his disdain for the cause by desecrating the flag, liken to burning in effigy. In our democracy, treatment of the flag is a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment as ruled by the Supreme Court in 1989. However, the Republicans are again spearheading a constitutional amendment banning flag desecration now that they have adopted the American flag as a symbol for George Bush, his Iraq War, his decimation of social programs and his "movement" to transform our democracy into a fascist corporate empire. They obviously are expecting dissent and are preparing to suppress it.

The Republican controlled House has already passed a version and it's now up to the Senate to decide whether or not to concur and then send it on to the states for ratification. Flag desecration is a very major national 'non-problem', but on the surface it is highly charged issue that evokes patriotic passion on both the pro and con amendment sides. It makes for a perfect election year diversion for the awful repercussions of failed Republican policies. Congressional Republicans are sweating it as their poll numbers ditch because of unending bloody war, stratospheric debt, and pillaging poor and middle class folks to further enrich the very wealthy and corporate Republican base.

Flag desecration is a big global 'non-problem' too. Presently, only three countries outlaw it. Naturally, all three are autocratic regimes: Communist China and Cuba as well as the extremist Islamic theocracy Iran. (Hey, isn't Bush about ready to invade Iran?) What an unholy collation, the United States, 'the cradle of democracy', commiserates with three motley crew dictatorships.

The flag amendment has religious consequences for many Americans. The Judeo-Christian tradition prohibits worshiping engraved images. It seems that treating a flag as more than the materials out of which it is made would be anti-Biblical and therefore offensive for many. Some religious groups already refuse to pledge allegiance to the flag out of respect for those Biblical edicts.

What makes up an authentic American flag anyway? Does it have to be made of cloth or would paper count? Would a bumper sticker flag or lapel pin flag do? Would little gravesite or car antenna flags pass muster? Some people say that slightly modified flags such as ones with only 49 stars and one dot, 12 stripes, or slightly off-color stripes would be quite burnable. I say that any American flag made in China or any other foreign country could never be considered a real American flag.

No matter how ludicrous this issue seems to be it is really a serious matter. If successful, the Flag Desecration Amendment would probably represent the opening salvo against the First Amendment protecting free speech and free press. A slippery slope scenario would then ensue. Eventually, OpEdnews, Common Dreams, Air America Radio and all of the other sources of truth clashing with the government's 'official story' would be shut down. Dissident voices the likes of Michael Moore, Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Charlie Sheen would be taken into custody and held indefinitely in the Halliburton-built internment camps within the U.S. Future historians might very well declare the Flag Amendment institution as the watershed moment in which the United States ceases to be a democracy.
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Dan Merica is a political cartoonist and opinion writer battling the right wing scourge now devastating our country. His work is posted on his website, www.cartoons-political.com.
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