Webb and Flag Burning

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The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.

-4 USC Sec. 8

Too Conservative has brought to our attention that US Senate Candidate Webb will not support an amendment against desecration of the US Flag.

For a long time, I was undecided on this issue. Then, some time ago, I had a discussion with my father, a retired Army Major, that removed my indecision. He pointed out to me that the traditional use of flags has been to mark territory. Flags used in battle were a primary method of determining victory and captured territory for either side:

For centuries the nature of warfare centered around capturing the flag of the enemy. It didn't matter how many soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured in a battle. Victory only came when the flag was captured. Likewise, the only way to avoid being defeated was to protect your own flag.

Of course, modern warfare no longer abides by these standards. However, a national flag is still more than just a symbol…it is an institution in itself. Think of those who gave their life...not just for what the flag stands for...but literally to protect the flag itself. Burning the US flag is not a form of free speech (in fact it is not “speech” at all). In the eyes of this vet, it is an attack on America itself.

James Webb, God Bless him for his sacrifice and service to America, has forgotten what he has sworn to protect.

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18 Comments

Craig said:

I believe that you are mistaken. James Webb and the other verterans that oppose this amendment do so because what they swore to protect are our nations ideals, not the symbol of those ideals. These are two very different things. The beauty of this nation is that everyone has a right to their opinion. You don't have to like the opinion or how it is expressed. Freedom of expression means the right to offend not just the freedom to express pleasant happy thoughts.

Please spend more time researching the implications of the amendment. Might I suggest you take a moment to read an editorial that I wrote on the subject: Say no to the Flag Desecration Amendment as well as to look at the various arguments pro and con of this amendment. You can Google "Flag Desecration" to find more information than you could possibly ever need to discover that this amendment is a grave afront to the Constitution.

Terry M said:

Given the King of the Hill defense, shouldn't the amendment be expanded to ban putting the flag on coffee cups and toilet paper and GOP bumper stickers and the back pockets of blue jeans?? Or anywhere that is not a cloth flag that can be hung?? I mean if the symbol is all we have as a nation, guess we better really protect it.

And yeah, in addition to all my perversions, I support the right to burn a flag in protest of one's government. Personally I might be more inclined to burn the VA State Constitution come Jan 1.

Craig said:

I believe that you are mistaken. James Webb and the other verterans that oppose this amendment do so because what they swore to protect are our nations ideals, not the symbol of those ideals. These are two very different things. The beauty of this nation is that everyone has a right to their opinion. You don't have to like the opinion or how it is expressed. Freedom of expression means the right to offend not just the freedom to express pleasant happy thoughts.

Please spend more time researching the implications of the amendment. Might I suggest you take a moment to read an editorial that I wrote on the subject: http://www.vitter.com/craigsmusings/Entry.aspx?entry=296 - Say no to the Flag Desecration Amendment as well as to look at the various arguments pro and con of this amendment. You can Google "Flag Desecration" to find more information than you could possibly ever need to discover that this amendment is a grave afront to the Constitution.

zimzo said:

I think our soldiers in Iraq who don't have body armor or armored vehicles will be very happy to know that Congress is working very hard to make the flag safe.

No Relation said:

Terry, please research the difference between a "flag" and a "flag replica".

Craig, I hope you will someday understand my point that the flag is more than just a symbol. I know what the courts say, but I can't find "freedom of expression" anywhere in the Constitution. The Constitution only protects specific types of expression (i.e., speech, press).

Zimzo, in all my time spent in the sandbox, I never crossed paths with a troop who did not have GI body armor. If the problem exists, I'm pretty sure the press has greatly exagerrated it. The armored vehicle thing is a non-issue, as well.

Thank you all for your comments and I may be AWOL from the internet for the next week or so.

zimzo said:

No Relation, the fact that there has been a shortage of body armor and armored vehicles in Iraq has not only been all over the news media but also the subject of numerous Congressional hearings (you have heard of C-Span, haven't you?) and a Pentagon report that said 80% of the soldiers killed in Iraq would have survived if they had adequate body armor. It must be nice living in a bubble where nothing you don't want to hear ever penetrates.

Sophrosyne said:

Zizmo... when NR said "in all my time spent in the sandbox" he was referring to his service in the Middle East as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States (something he has discussed in the past on this blog). He has/is serving our country and defending our way of life on the front lines of the War on Terror and I think it is incredibly disrespectful to him and other service men and women to dismiss his/their combat experience as “living in a bubble where nothing you don't want to hear ever penetrates.” He deserves our gratitude and thanks not personal comments like that.

You can definitely disagree with the substance of his comments without such careless remarks (I don’t want to be misconstrued as a Democrat here, they are the ones who think b/c of someone’s military service you can’t comment on the substance of their actual remarks).

zimzo said:

I knew exactly what he meant by "served in the sandbox" and nothing I said was intended to be or could be interpreted as an attack on that service. I certainly appreciate his service. And I'm sure his experience gives him insights that people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who avoided military service, don't have and we would all have been better off if they did. But with all due respect, when you make a comment like "If the problem exists, I'm pretty sure the press has greatly exagerrated it" about a story that has been widely reported and debated, you are shutting yourself off from information, and even the possibility of getting information, which is the very definition of living in a bubble. Before he baselessly accuses me of making up a story or exaggerating it he should at least make some effort to find out if it is true or not.

Finally, I find it remarkably self-righteous and hypocritical of you to accuse me of "dismissing his military service" considering the way John Kerry and John Murtha have been mocked and attacked on this blog and by others in the right-wing blogosphere.

Sophrosyne said:

So you think his ACTUAL experience seeing things is second fiddle to reading about them in the New York Times?

Your comment was dismissive of his experience which he was directly commenting on in favor or reports you have read/heard… and I do believe that is disrespectful and wrong to use such a tone/comment in that context. You saying that “before he baselessly accuses me of making up a story or exaggerating it he should at least make some effort to find out if it is true or not” means you do not give any credence (or respect) to his efforts fighting on the front lines of the war on terror… or at least not enough to consider them “some effort to find out if it is true or not” if troops (such as him and his fellow soldiers) had sufficient body armor.

He was commenting with live on-the-ground experience and you dismissed that experience in favor of whatever articles you may have read (not that you have to pick one or the other but you wholly rejected his observations as “living in a bubble where nothing you don't want to hear ever penetrates”). And keep in mind he didn’t necessarily say there was no problem, he simply said he was “pretty sure the press has greatly exaggerated it” based on his experience defending our nation.

Criticizing Senator Kerry or Congressman Murtha’s various public policy positions is wholly incomparable to criticizing the factual observations of a member of the armed services on the ground in the Middle East (and this is what I alluded to when I referred to the fact that Sociocrats often try to claim their veterans’ are untouchable on nearly every issue due to their service yet they never seem to extend the same consideration to Republicans who have served in the military). Anyways… I don’t want to (nor have the time) to get into a protracted discussion on your comments… I just found them inappropriate and felt the need to say so. Hopefully we all can keep things civil.

zimzo said:

With all due respect Sophrosyne, I do not believe that No Relation was saying he was fighting in Iraq during this war, so I don't believe his hunch has more credence than the actual statements of men who are fighting there. I can't believe we are even arguing whether the hunch of someone who once served in the Middle East deserves more credence than the soldiers fighting there, whether those words are reported in a newspaper, on TV or in congressional testimony.

And I do not think comments mocking Kerry by saying "Vietnam was too long ago for him to remember" and saying "Murtha has betrayed the US Armed Forces" are at all respectful of their military service.

What we have here is another example of how it is OK when your side does something but not OK when my side does. Most people would call that hypocrisy.

I don't even know what "Sociocrats" are, but is name calling what you would consider "civil"?

No Relation was in Afghanistan not very long ago and is on the verge of completing his initial 5-year commitment. He spends most days on base, so I imagine he has some first-hand famiarity with what other active duty troops are seeing. I'm sure when his Internet access problems are solved next week we'll be hearing from from him on topics related to this one.

zimzo said:

Still, other than his hunch and what he happened to notice, No relation has no idea whatsoever if what I said is true or not. I suspect that you have all heard the same reports I have about shortages of body armor and armored vehicles and you are trying to change the subject by attacking me and trying to make me look like I am anti-military when in fact I think it was criminal that the Bush Administration sent our soldiers into harm's way without adequate protection. I really don't see how this can be justified and you don't seem to be able to either, which is why you have resorted to attacking me.

Wow...gone for a day and this is what I miss.

My "bubble" included 5 provinces from Bagram to Ghazni, where the thousands of other American troops I saw all had body armor. I was there from July of '04 till July of '05.

I don't mean to attack you, Zimzo: I assume you believe what you are saying is true, and your outrage about troops sent into battle ill-equipped is expressed with the best intentions.

zimzo said:

That may well be true, No Relation, but according to Republican Sen. Susan Collins in March of 2004 soldiers were buying their own body armor because the Pentagon wasn't supplying it. here is an article from the Associated Press about this:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2004-03-26-body-armor_x.htm

stay puft marshmallow man said:

i just want to say that, while i'm not an expert on military history, i do not believe that war ever really existed as a giant game of caputre the flag. that's just silly.

and do people really die defending the flag? i was under the impression they were defending freedom.

this is just another partisan, anything-that-sticks grab for votes in november. the flag is a symbol of freedom, but it is only a symbol, not freedom itself. if anyone died defending a colorful banner when they could have lived to continue fighting to defend actual freedom, that's their prerogative, but it comes off as a bit irrational.

zimzo said:

Here is Jim Webb's response to the orchestrated Republican attack on his patriotism:

"George Felix Allen Jr. and his bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb's position on free speech and flag burning," Webb spokesman Steve Jarding said in a press release. "Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen Jr. chose to cut and run.

"When he and his disrespectful campaign puppets attack Jim Webb, they are attacking every man and woman who served. Their comments are nothing more than weak-kneed attacks by cowards."

Webb was a Marine in Vietnam, serving as a rifle-platoon leader and company commander. He received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, Jarding noted.

"While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.'s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada," Jarding said. "People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield."

http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-61299sy0jun28,0,3898360.story?coll=dp-widget-news

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