Burning a flag is a very clear way of sending a message: fuck you and the horse you rode in on!
Or, for the more dainty among us: we reject you and what you represent.
OK, fair enough.
Except the hose bit – cruelty to animals is never OK.
The sentiment, however, is validly expressed by the burning of the flag that represents the despised ‘rider’.
Sure, it is not a pleasant sight to see the symbol of one’s culture (and, by extension, values) so unambiguously rejected. But, that is rather the point, isn’t it!
As is burning someone in effigy: it is an unambiguous rejection of who they are and what they stand for.
As a political statement, flag-burning is not only a valid form of expression, it is one that must be protected at all costs, whether it is directed at us, our allies or our enemies. Regardless of whoose jimmies it rustles!
What is not valid is violence against actual people and property damage (unless, of course, it is your property you are damaging – then that is your business entirely)!
For clarity’s sake – raping and murdering a country’s ambassador falls into the ‘not OK’ category…it being an act of war and all. As is raiding a foreign embassy, ripping down their flag and putting yours in its place. After all, every embassy is legally the soil of the country of that embassy, so using violent means to enter the embassy grounds and replacing its country’s flag with your own quite literally means the conquering of a part of that country’s sovereign territory and annexing it to your political entity, as symbolized by your flag.
In other words, storming an embassy and replacing its flag with your own is also an unequivocal declaration of war.
Pretending otherwise is past naive. It is criminally negligent or actively complicit or a host of other unpleasant things, but it is past even wilfully naive.
Luckily, you and I are not the people who have to make the call about what is an appropriate response to an act of war – against your country (if you are an American) or that of your allies (if you are part of the Western World) – we are just the people who will have to live with the aftermath of whatever decisions those in power will make.
And, this is certain: whether you are an American, a Westerner or live in another part of the world – whatever the response (or lack thereof) is, you and I will have to live through the consequences.
A war has been declared.
Whether or not those in power send it the troops (literally or figuratively), it is happening…
What is within our power, however, is to let our leaders know what our opinions are.
In order to do that, in order for the mesage to cut through the clatter and chatter, in order for it not to be misunderstood or misinterpreted, the message has to be clear, visible and unequivocal.
I suggest that at all the anti-Islamism protests planned in the Western world, we include the burning of the Islamist flag.
Remember, this flag does not represent Islam in general: it represents exclusively political Islam.
And, as it was the flag raised over the US Embassy in Egypt, it is fair comment to burn it here, during our protests, in order to send the clear and unambiguous message that we rejcect it and what it represents.
After all, flag-burning is a message that is understood by all.
It’s about time we started sending it!