Revcoms’ July Fourth Fireworks, 2019



From a reader:

The most meaningful Fourth of July event I’ve ever experienced took place yesterday in Washington, DC. There I saw two U.S. flags being torched on Pennsylvania Avenue with the White House in the near background. The event was conceived and carried out by members of the Revolution Clubs to protest Trump’s policies towards migrants, especially those seeking entry at America’s southwestern border, and against the U.S. government’s financial and moral support of other countries as they repeatedly bomb and invade such Middle Eastern nations as Yemen and Palestine.

The day before I witnessed this event, I spent some time with a friend discussing flag burning as a method of political protest. Even though I had already decided to go to DC as a protest against the government’s putting toddlers, children and adults into virtual concentration camps, my response to this idea was that it was rather melodramatic, and not worth doing because it would offend those that love America but hate Trump, many of these don’t associate the flag with Trump’s fascism. My friend felt that burning the flag was a powerful statement against Trump and those of his supporters that have made a fetish of the flag, steeping it in the symbolism of white supremacy and jingoism. He felt, as I did, however, that flag burning would be deeply offensive to some allies of Refuse Fascism and Revcom and divisive at a time when we activists must face Trump and his followers with as much unity as possible.

When my friend and I parted, I found myself leaning towards his at least partial approval of flag burning—that it was a powerful statement against the uses to which the fascists had put the flag. As I mulled over this assessment, my own agreement warmed, and I was glad that my concern over the little kids’ being locked in cages had decided me to go to DC to bear witness to the Revcoms’ protest regardless of what shape it took.

The flag burning turned out to be not only a powerful statement but also an intensely honest one.  I am beginning to realize that people must be persuaded by raw truth not cajoled or flattered by the beliefs that their families or schools instilled in them. Those are habits, sugar coated by a false and unhealthy sense of virtue. Surely those who are capable of struggling against Trump and his cronies must be able to see America’s behavior at its southern border, in the Middle East, and within its own boundaries has sullied all of its symbols, including the flag. Why would we want allies so fuddled by habit and so complacent about their own morality that they would hold our struggles back by clinging to old mores? Not that we should reject such people wholesale. There are many really good people like that out there. We should continue to seek them out and persuade them even if it means shocking them to do so.

To some extent, I am one of the people that need to be persuaded. My use of the term “melodramatic” when criticizing flag burning marks me as a liberal bourgeois. (You mustn’t burn flags, dear. It’s not in good taste.) But I found myself more shocked by the behavior of the trolls and ogres that had gathered at DC to celebrate Trump than by the flag burning. They were obviously more upset over the destruction of a piece of cloth than over the deaths and emotional crippling of humans. As they strove to vent their rage on the flag burners, they howled like animals and repeated with idiot conviction: “USA USA USA!” I saw one young woman, painted with stars and stripes, leaning into the arms of her boyfriend and wiping away fake tears over the “desecration of the flag.” Part of me wanted to smack her and say, “I’ll give you something to cry about.” People like this woman had passed us by with smirks when, before the main event, we had tried to engage their compassion for the migrant children at the border. Others, after the flag burning, mimicked the crying of the little ones (Mami, Papi) when they were torn from their parents’ arms and forced into cages.

Trump supporters, so determined to impose their fake and toxic values on others, must never take over our society. I noticed that other witnesses beside myself were more appalled by them than by the torching of a cloth symbol. One woman was beaten to the ground by the Trump supporters and arrested by the DC police when she gave verbal support to the flag burners. Another woman of about sixty came up to thank one of the Revcoms in Lafayette Park when he made a speech explaining the burning of the flag. She was the very epitome of a lady. She wept different, more genuine tears than the clinging vine I had noticed earlier.

—Lillian Forman, an eighty-three-year-old retired book writer and editor



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