The new "Flag Protection Act of 1989" has made it a crime to "mutilate, deface, physically defile, burn, maintain on the floor or ground, or trample upon" the American flag. We are also threatened by a Constitutional Amendment banning "desecration" of the flag. If ratified, it would be the first amendment designed solely to restrict the Bill of Rights.
These moves, coming from the highest levels of government, enshrine the flag as a sacred symbol and place it above criticism. In essence, the government would forbid us from challenging core elements of nationhood and national unity. In compelling respect, the flag law and amendment seek to impost blind "my country right or wrong" patriotism and to exact unthinkable obedience to the government. The direct effect is to narrow and dictate, with the force of punishment, the "acceptable" bounds of criticism, protest, and even artistic expression. The broader impact is to create a climate of fear, intimidation and coercion.
We hold divers views on civil liberties, Constitutional rights and political dissent. Some of us consider patriotism a voluntary expression of national identity. Others believe that patriotism in this country serves only to buttress oppression. Some of us find flag burning inappropriate or even offensive, while others think that it can be a positive and powerful form of protest and rebellion. But all of us vehemently oppose the efforts of the government to legislate mandatory patriotism and to begin limiting dissent.
Let us not find ourselves years from now asking why we did not resist when the writing was on the wall. We call upon everyone to speak out and stand up. This oppressive flag law and amendment must be fought and defeated.
LETTER TO ROC
I just got your newsletter and letter. It's great! I'm glad you saw C-SPAN's coverage of the press conference and rally. My name is Shawn Eichman, I'm one of the D.C. defendants (U.S. vs. Eichman). I'm also an artist who's been very active in the art censorship battle. It's past time for us to fight this censorship with a united front! I also work with REFUSE & RESIST. We're trying to organize a united front with art shows & concerts & multimedia events with art, music, etc. that questions the status quo. Maybe you can do something out there in solidarity? The Emergency Committee is doing a victory/fundraising party on July 4th with Flag Art Show, Flag Fashion Show & Flag Food and Banned, Stickered and Censored music. We are also organizing an East Coast speaking tour for the defendants. Perhaps we could come to Ohio? We also desperately need $, because either way the court decides, we're in for a battle. Maybe you could include that in your next newsletter? Thanks for my copy, keep in touch!
LOUDER THAN A BOMB!
FOR MORE INFORMATION WRITE:
EMERGENCY COMMITTEE TO STOP THE FLAG AMENDMENT AND LAWS
189 Franklin Street
New York, NY 10013