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Addressing the Audacity Gap: Why the Revcoms Lit Up the American Flag at Jason Aldean’s Fascist Shit-Show in Tinley Park

And Why You Need to do the Same on a Bigger Scale to This Musically Mediocre MAGA Moron

Editors’ note: This article by Paul Street, historian and author, originally appeared on September 11 at The Paul Street Report.

Revcoms set U.S. flag on fire at Jason Aldean concert in Tinley Park, Illinois.


Chicago Revcom organizer Leo Pargo sets a US flag on fire outside Jason Aldean’s concert in Tinley Park, Illinois two nights ago.   

“No More Lynch Mobs In Or Out of Uniform”

Two nights ago I joined revcoms (revolutionary communists) from Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland in a protest against a concert held by the deranged fascist country music singer Jason Aldean, whose recent number one hit “Try That in a Small Town” is essentially a call for racist lynch mobs and civil war. 

It was a well-planned, disciplined, and determined action. Here, here, and here are videos of our protest, which made it all the way down to the ticket windows outside Credit Union 1 Amphitheater in the suburban town of Tinley Park, Illinois.  

We were surrounded during our march and gathering by a small handful of Tinley Park Police and a larger group of fully equipped riot/robo-cops, a Mobil Field Force Team – also known as a Law Enforcement Patrol Strike Team – with the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS, an inter-jurisdictional domestic counter-insurgency formed to protect “public safety” and repress dissent in the wake of 9/11).

Our chants were pretty good:

Jason Aldean’s country hit, it’s a pile of fascist shit

One, two, three, four, slavery, genocide, and war. Five, six, seven, eight, America was never great

No more lynch mobs in or out of uniform

No more standing by while good ’ol boys prepare for civil war

In every town and every city, you can’t stop us, ain’t that a pity.

There’s a whole better way that the world can be, make revolution set humanity free

No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!

We came with eight or so US flags, some of which got ripped up along the way while others were dramatically burned in front of the arena by the Chicago Revcoms. I’ve got one part of a shredded US flag in my bookbag right now:

Paul Street's bag with ripped US flag.


We naturally caught no small amount of middle-fingered abuse from white Trumpists who rode by us with Trump and Confederate flags and those blackened versions of the US flag that signify Amerikaner white nationalist neofascism flying from the backs of their pickup trucks. A squad of angry white bikers tried to drown us out with their Harley Davidson engines.

(At one point in front of the ticket booths, a white male Aldeanian shot between the ILEAS gendarmes to briefly ankle-tackle me to the ground. What sent him off at me in particular was likely some or all of the following: I had parts of his holy national flag dragging along my right shoe; he didn’t want to prove the protesters’ point by attacking a Black or female protester; my relative lack of physical bulk; the special contempt he felt for a fellow older white male who was aligned with Black, Latina, gay, female, and communist folks fighting against his MAGA project. It was a decent tackle. It being football season, I quickly got back up and joined the huddle to hear what the next play was.)

Paul Street protesting at Jason Aldean concert in Tinley Park.


Paul Street speaking on behalf of Refuse Fascism at 191st Street and Oak Park Avenue prior to the march down to Credit 1 Union Ampitheatre.   

We lasted ten minutes or so in front of the Aldean venue until the ILEAS robocops let out a high piercing electronic sound and declared our protest an “unlawful assembly.”  They threatened us with chemical munitions and escorted us out.  

Flag Matters  

The immediate question from most of the leftish and liberal white middle aged and senior people I know is “why do this?” –  this with a particular emphasis on the obviously provocative burning of the US flag. 

Let’s dig into the flag question. Communists’ main reference group is humanity and the overall “web of life,” not capitalist nation states dedicated (by definition) to class rule, many-sided oppression, imperial war, and the destruction of liable ecology. And let’s be honest, the revcom chant is correct: the Star Spangled Banner represents slavery, genocide, and war on a massive scale in ways that I and many others have written about at length (for my own latest attempt to capture that horrific history please see the sixth chapter, titled “America Was Never Great: On ‘The Soul of This Nation,’” in my latest book This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America). 

US flag art with dollar signs for stars, and barbed wire for stripes


Personally, I don’t loathe only the US flag. Give me a British, French, German, Italian, Russian flag or the flag of any other capitalist and imperialist power and I’ll be happy to rip it up or step all over it for you. But no other nation can match the United States for racist, mass-murderous imperial aggression over the last eight decades (please see my 2018 Truthdig essay “The World Will Not Mourn the End of US Hegemony” for a grisly catalogue on that score). And no nation on Earth has done more to push humanity to the edge of true catastrophe, even possible extinction, through environmental collapse and nuclear war.   Frederick Douglass’s 1852 words have remained accurate in relation to the United States of my lifetime: “for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival....”

Quote from Frederick Douglass meme


Thanks to a case brought to the US Supreme Court by the Revcoms in 1989, US flag-burning is a constitutionally protected free speech right.  If you hate the blood-drenched Star Spangled Banner enough that you want to light it up in public, you have the right to do so, and you can thank the revcoms. A constitutional right that you don’t exercise because you are afraid of pissing people off and facing violence for doing so isn’t much of a constitutional right. Trumpian Republi-fascists try to intimidate Black people away from the voting booth…shall the franchise therefore be sacrificed and surrendered by Black Americans?    

There’s more to say on the flag question. All these Trumpist-fascists flying blackened versions of the US flag are desecrating their national banner by changing its colors (to signify their dark desire to see “the land of freedom” turned into a Christian white nationalist Gilead state). And what about all the racists streaming into Aldean concerts with Confederate Flags (appropriately enough since Aldean wore Confederate Flag shirts during his concerts for many years)?  The Confederacy seceded from the United States and waged f*#king Civil War on the rest of the nation in response to the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, which southern leaders saw as an unacceptable threat to their beloved and merciless, torture-based profits system of Black chattel cotton slavery! The Confederate flag is an open banner of virulent white supremacist Slavery and Treason. If fascists have the constitutionally protected right to fly the Confederate “Stars and Bars,” communists and others surely have the right to burn the US-American flag.  

A good reason to light up the latter flag specifically at an Aldean concert is that the MAGA Nazi Aldean himself dared people to do so. Burning American flags is one of the acts that “Try That in a Small Town” says will put you at risk of mortal bloodshed in a diminutive jurisdiction.  Aldean’s menacing language is threatening AF: “see how far you make it down the road,” before some “good ‘ol boys” who were “raised up right” and are “looking for a fight” use their “grandad’s gun” to stop you in your tracks if you exercise your free speech right to torch Old Glory. (The other things Aldean’s noxious tune warns small town folks and visitors against are “cuss[ing] out a cop and spit[ting] in his face,” “carjack[ing] an old lady,” and rob[bing] a liquor store”).

Burning an American flag is provocative?  Okay, but guess what: telling people they might not make it out alive from your town if they exercise an established First Amendment right there is even more provocative.  The first provocation destroys a symbol, a colored piece of cloth.  The second provocation promises the criminal use of lethal force against human beings.  At the same time, changing the US flag from a longtime red, white, and blue symbol of bourgeois-republican “democracy” into a blackened banner of neofascist Christian white nationalist rule is also pretty F’ng provocative, as is flying the national banner of the 1861-65 southern slaveowners’ treasonous Confederacy.

The Lethal Audacity Gap

Flag issues aside, the biggest reason to aggressively and fearlessly protest Aldean’s discordant hate circus is to address the shocking right-“left” Audacity Gap in the US today – the alarming chasm between the militant audacity of the unbowed Republi-fascist right and the sorry sleepwalking passivity of moderates, liberals, progressives and much of what passes for a “left” in the US today.  Much, if not most of the non-fascist US majority has either given up on serious popular resistance and revolution or has no sense of why such resistance and radicalism is required. “Liberal” Democratic Party elites and their benumbed, sleepy-woke followers express excessive and naïve faith in the fading institutions and politics of late US bourgeois electoral “democracy” and rule of bourgeois law – institutions and politics that have long provided fake-egalitarian cover for capitalist-imperialist class rule. From Trump’s first election through the dismally uninspiring, neoliberal, and unpopular presidency of Joe “Sleepy Time” Biden, the comparatively decent non-fascist majority of Americans seem like “the best” (people) mentioned in WB Yeats’ haunting 1921 poem “The Second Coming”:  “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”

I say “seem like” Yeats’ “best” because many of America’s “best” (more decent and non-fascist) folks appear not so much to “lack all conviction” as to possess far too much compliance-inducing conviction in the established institutions of longtime US bourgeois politics and lawThey have far too much faith in previously normative bourgeois-”democratic” electoralism and bourgeois law, both of which are losing their luster as “things fall apart” and “the center” disintegrates. They have too little confidence and trust in the relevance and urgency of mass popular action.  Which brings us back to Frederick Douglass, who wrote this in the years before the US Civil War:

The general sentiment of mankind is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just. For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others. Such a man, the world says, may lie down until he has sense enough to stand up…The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle…If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Sadly, in the current juncture, there are more folks on the white fascist right who possess an audacious fighting spirit.  Their militancy and daring is insidiously polluted by virulent racism, palingenetic hyper-nationalism, religious fundamentalism, malignant patriarchy, anti-LGBT chauvinism, and ugly nativism.  Their readiness to fight is aligned with a revanchist and potentially genocidal project meant to establish authoritarian/strongman rule and to cement the rule of might over right and the rule of men over the rule of law – all this within a framework of white supremacism, militant patriarchy, fervent nationalism, jackbooted class rule, and lethal eco-cide/eco-fascism.

This terrible Audacity and Fighting Gap desperately needs to change.  Respect is due to the revcoms for stepping up to fill the progressive and radical void and for their bold understanding, advanced by the revolutionary communist leader Bob Avakian, that slaying the Amerikaner fascist beast – the ugly animal that feasts on the great US “triad” of white supremacy, male supremacy and American supremacy – requires a revolutionary confrontation with the whole damn capitalist-imperialist system, from top to bottom.  That system creates a global fascist menace that finds fertile and deadly soil in the world’s leading imperialist and eco-cidal state, the most dangerous country on Earth – the United States.

Step Up to Shut Down This Deadly Fascist MAGA Moron

The current liberal-left and Democratic Party-led sleep-walk to Amerikan fascist consolidation, currently scheduled for 2024-25, must be interrupted. Consider our protest two nights ago our latest five alarm wake-up call. What we did the other night in Tinley Park needs to be merely the first major Aldean protest.  Check out this deranged multi-millionaire asshole’s coming concert Jason Aldean’s coming concert dates here. This musically mediocre MAGA moron should be seen as a big fat target begging for mass anti-fascist protest and resistance. Don’t let his neo-Confederate shit-show pass by your community without bold and large-scale popular resistance  Contact and join the revcoms to pull off bigger actions going forward.  Letting this MAGA Nazi, a longtime racist and Trumpist, get away with this white supremacist hate parade – a significant part of the many-sided US Amerikaner fascist offensive (far worse than just the same old culture warring) – would be a big mistake. 

Some final words from the revcoms themselves:

The police came out and threatened to arrest us for “alarming and disturbing others.” If we disturbed these Jason Aldean fans and these police enforcers, GOOD! What's alarming and disturbing is that a lynch mob anthem ("Try That in a Small Town") about murdering protesters and people who stomp on the flag went to the top of the charts this summer. People need to wake up to what's happening, stand up to these fascists, and get organized for revolution to get rid of the whole system which spawned them… It is good that a diverse group of people took action against this fascist shitshow. These MAGA Nazis are already murdering people in the streets, from Jacksonville to ‘small towns’ in California. Those in power are stripping away basic rights. And worse is yet to come. We can’t allow the terms to be set by these monsters, nor by Democrats and spineless liberals trying to hold on to the ‘norms’ of this oppressive system. The revcoms need to come to the forefront in the fight against fascism, impacting all of society and building up the strength to lead millions to overthrow the whole system and replace it with something much better. This was just the beginning of what’s needed…And to Jason Aldean: this will not be the last flag we burn at your concert. As our Points of Attention for the Revolution say, “We fight for a world without borders, and for equality among different peoples, cultures and languages.” We're not just fighting for “our own,” but to make a real revolution to emancipate all humanity!...DONATE to support this effort! Can you contribute $70? That was the price of the cheapest ticket to the Jason Aldean show.’


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