A great deal of the blogosphere is riled up by the recent protest by the Islamic Thinkers Society’s rally in New York, where they stomp all over and then tear up an American flag. A lot of people are understandably furious.
I take a bit of a different take on the matter. I kind of like it when I see protesters burning the American flag.
To my way of thinking (and I freely admit I’m in a minority here), it’s very enlightening to look at just what happened in New York. Here, a group of self-styled “Islamic Thinkers” (and what a delightful oxymoron that phrase is in their case) are committing an act that would be severely punished in the nations to whom they pledge their allegiance. And the police, who over there would be arresting and/or severely beating them, are standing by — not only not interfering with them, but making sure they are not interrupted.
Compare that with the hullabaloo surrounding the (now-discredited) Koran desecration stories. The Islamic Thinkers Society (giggle, snort) want the heads (hopefully figuratively) of those ACCUSED of “showing disrespect” to the Koran, and are emphasizing their point by desecrating a symbol held sacred by many Americans.
But not by me. The things I hold sacred are ideals and lives, not things. The Koran, the flag, the Bible — to me, they’re just physical property, and can be treated in pretty much any way the legal owner wishes. If I buy a Bible and a telephone, and then throw them both in the trash, then that’s my money I’ve wasted. No more, no less.
Overseas, it’s a little different. When I see people in other nations desecrating the American flag, I am bemused. Do they think that attacking our flag has some sort of magical voodoo powers, that we will be injured by their actions? Or is it simply the equivalent of a five-year-old’s temper tantrum, lashing out in the only way they can, demonstrating their impotence?
Yes, like most people, I do get a bit angered when I see the flag desecrated. But that is vastly outweighed by the knowledge that as long as people in this country are free to treat the flag thus, we have continuing proof that the ideals that it represents are still strong.
In that context, the sacrifice of a single piece of cloth seems a very, very small price to pay.