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The Ideological Flag Burners

This is a guest Post by Mikey

During the Vietnam War, the anti-war movement began writing about a country called “Amerika.” This was not meant as a sign of illiteracy. The German spelling indicated that America was no better than Nazi Germany. Other anti-war activists called the country “Amerikkka.” The country was thus associated with the Ku Klux Klan. Witnessing these childish tactics, even those Americans who opposed the Vietnam War began to distance themselves from the excesses of the radical left.

In the 1980s, as the Sandinistas took control of Nicaragua, there was a tendency to burn American flags. This led Humberto Ortega, one of the leaders of the Sandinista junta, to warn:

When we burn the flag of the United States, we burn the patriotic symbol of the gringos. When this is seen on television in North American homes, it can cause resentment in citizens who oppose Reagan’s policy against Nicaragua but don’t like to see their flag stomped on and burned. On the other hand, if we burn a figure representing Reagan, many Americans will even support what we are doing.

The Sandinista junta decided unanimously to stop burning the American flag and to start burning effigies of Ronald Reagan.

The prudence of this decision has not been lost on today’s ideological flag-burners. In the current war in Iraq, the communist Socialist Workers Party is using a similar tactic. Placards displaying the photo of President Bush and the caption “World’s #1 Terrorist” can be seen at almost any anti-Iraq War demonstration.

If Barack Obama wins the US election, it is unlikely that the flag-burners’ target audience will take kindly to a similar attack on the new President. If burning the flag and attacking the President are, for tactical reasons, ruled out as anti-war propaganda ploys, something new will be required. It is possible that they will call Obama an “Uncle Tom”: forgetting the fact that even in the far Left’s favourite state, the multi-ethnic Cuba, the President is always white. An alternative may be targeting what John Perkins calls “the corporatocracy”. Or perhaps they will simply revert to the shopworn slogans of “Fighting American Imperialism.”

But whichever tactic is chosen, those that attend their demonstrations should be under no illusions: the ideology of the demonstration organisers, at heart, will always be one of American flag burning.

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