Ed Driscoll

"Old Glory Can Take The Heat"

Mark Steyn isn’t too crazy about a flag-burning amendment passing, and he makes some great points along the way as he explains why:

And maybe a few would feel as many of my correspondents did last week about the ridiculous complaints of ”desecration” of the Quran by U.S. guards at Guantanamo — that, in the words of one reader, ”it’s not possible to ‘torture’ an inanimate object.”

That alone is a perfectly good reason to object to a law forbidding the “desecration” of the flag. For my own part, I believe that, if someone wishes to burn a flag, he should be free to do so. In the same way, if Democrat senators want to make speeches comparing the U.S. military to Nazis and the Khmer Rouge, they should be free to do so. It’s always useful to know what people really believe.

For example, two years ago, a young American lady, Rachel Corrie, was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. Her death immediately made her a martyr for the Palestinian cause, and her family and friends worked assiduously to promote the image of her as a youthful idealist passionately moved by despair and injustice. ”My Name Is Rachel Corrie,” a play about her, was a huge hit in London. Well, OK, it wasn’t so much a play as a piece of sentimental agitprop so in thrall to its subject’s golden innocence that the picture of Rachel on the cover of the Playbill shows her playing in the backyard, age 7 or so, wind in her hair, in a cute, pink T-shirt.

There’s another photograph of Rachel Corrie: at a Palestinian protest, headscarved, her face contorted with hate and rage, torching the Stars and Stripes. Which is the real Rachel Corrie? The “schoolgirl idealist” caught up in the cycle of violence? Or the grown woman burning the flag of her own country? Well, that’s your call. But because that second photograph exists, we at least have a choice.

Have you seen that Rachel Corrie flag-burning photo? If you follow Charles Johnson’s invaluable Little Green Footballs Web site and a few other Internet outposts, you will have. But you’ll look for it in vain in the innumerable cooing profiles of the “passionate activist” that have appeared in the world’s newspapers.

One of the big lessons of these last four years is that many, many beneficiaries of Western civilization loathe that civilization — and the media are generally inclined to blur the extent of that loathing. At last year’s Democratic Convention, when the Oscar-winning crockumentarian Michael Moore was given the seat of honor in the presidential box next to Jimmy Carter, I wonder how many TV viewers knew that the terrorist ”insurgents” — the guys who kidnap and murder aid workers, hack the heads off foreigners, load Down’s syndrome youths up with explosives and send them off to detonate in shopping markets — are regarded by Moore as Iraq’s Minutemen. I wonder how many viewers knew that on Sept. 11 itself Moore’s only gripe was that the terrorists had targeted New York and Washington instead of Texas or Mississippi: ”They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, D.C. and the plane’s destination of California — these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!”

In other words, if the objection to flag desecration is that it’s distasteful, tough. Like those apocryphal Victorian matrons who discreetly covered the curved legs of their pianos, the culture already goes to astonishing lengths to veil the excesses of those who are admirably straightforward in their hostility.

This past week, PoliPundit linked to a Chicago Tribune article that diagrammed how Senator Dick Durbin’s (D-IL) speech was ignored or quarantined by the MSM, but was heard or read by millions first via Laura Ingraham (whose producer happened to catch it live via C-Span), then Rush, Hewitt, and the Blogosphere. Nothing must gall the left more than the fact that unlike during the 1970s and ’80s, so many end-arounds now exist for information about their excesses and radical hyperbole. (Something that Senator Kerry didn’t seem to factor-in last year.)

So if you’re going to light up Old Glory, just be sure a photographer with Internet access is present.

Update: Related thoughts from Power Line.