Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Burn the Flag

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

As he just can't seem to help himself, the Trumpster twitters: "Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!"

Here's my response: There is no right more fundamental to freedom of expression than flag-burning. 

Burn the flag.

It is the symbol of refusal to bow before this infant who would be king.
It is the rejection of Trumps racist, misogynist, money-soaked worldview.
It is the rejection of his terrifying cabinet appointments. 
It is the repudiation of his corporatist fascism.
It is the single most powerful recognition that America has become America, Inc.
It is an action in defense of the country.

That Trump is already wondering aloud--on Twitter--about whether he can criminalize this most essential right tells us everything we need to know about his character, his motives, his assault on the Bill of Rights.

And it's irrelevant whether or not he can outlaw flag-burning.

He can't. At least not alone.

That we should be burdened with a president so completely cavalier about the protections of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is precisely why we must burn the flag.

The first amendment doesn't exist merely to protect safe, conciliatory, or banal speech. 

As John Stewart Mill rightly argues, it exists to protect unpopular, offensive, vulgar, and woefully wrong speech.

It protects Trump's insane climate change denial.

It protects his references to Mexicans as "drug-dealers and rapists."

It protects Trump's vulgar references to women as pigs and pussies.

It protects Attorney General Nominee, and "career racist" Jeff Sessions' reference to black men as "boys." (

It protects Chief Council Steve Bannon's antisemitic sentiments, and his "alt-right, "fake news, conspiracy theory driven, white suppremacist website, Brietbart.

The first amendment protects all kinds of speech that is false, brutal, and divisive--even the completely off the rails ranting of Alex Jones' "Info-Wars," (

Burning the flag--that is an act that can and should bring us together against a fear-mongering white nationalist regime who will dispatch soldiers to die for a country that represents nothing more than Trump's latest scheme to fill his own coffers.

Burn the flag.

And let's be very clear: we have every right to be protected from harm. There are important questions to be considered about whether hate speech constitutes harm. But these are far too sophisticated for either Trump or his entourage of sycophants to contemplate--especially as they jockey for greatest advantage to see out the narrow gauge that is the president's arse.

We do not have the right to be protected from being offended, even disgusted.

Burning the Americans flag is thus radically unlike the commission of hate speech.

In fact, it's among the most important acts we can perform in the defense of the country. 

Burn the flag.

That Trump has no comprehension of this fact bespeaks a willful ignorance so profound that we should all shudder at the very idea that he could be president. 

He personifies not merely hate speech but a repugnant worldview now celebrated by the likes of the Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists, sexual assailants, and the willfully ignorant everywhere.

That Trump apparently thinks he has the power to expel citizens from the country on the grounds of his infantile rants should leave us embarrassed and ashamed for our horn-swaggled neighbors who voted for him.

They have no excuse.

Possibly the only thing more frightening than a Trump presidency are the emboldened bigots for whom hate speech has now been given a new lease on life, but who'd condemn the real patriot--the one who burns the flag in mourning over the death of the promise of democracy.

What besides setting the flag to flames could more eloquently express this catastrophic threat to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

What better way to recognize the preeminent importance of free speech?

Burn the flag.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Putting a bullet to the head of "America": November 8th, 2016

It is as gray and rainy in Northeast Pennsylvania this morning as befits the desolation of my mood. 

I ricochet between slack-jawed paralysis and an outrage that makes bloodless white-knuckled balls of my fists. 

The latter is better.

I reached out my front door to pick up my newspaper, and it occurred to me that I am now afraid of my neighbors. 

I'm afraid, and anyone who values reason should be, of anyone--everyone--who voted for Donald Trump.

They have elected the darling of the white supremacist, the Ku Klux Klan--the idolator of the lynch mob.

They have chosen a war-loving fascist whose "America First!" betokens an country with no place for civil discourse, for dissent, for self-reflection, or for humility.

They have deemed fit for the most powerful office of the land a man who regards half the human population as disposable fuckable toys.

They have chosen to condemn women who'd seek abortions to "some form of punishment" or hemorrhage.
They have authorized to speak for us a man who thinks reckless bravado signifies strength, that flag-wrapped warheads demonstrate patriotism, and who dog-whistles the "law and order" of the loaded gun.

They have chosen torture as a legitimate form of negotiation.

They have chosen surveillance, repression, paranoia, and that bitter flavor of institutionalized violence that would as soon eat its own entrails as acknowledge the humanity of "the other."

They have chosen the xenophobic white patriarchy of the "America" of the Commerce Clause, Citizens United, and the Panama Papers.

They have elected to privatize and commodify everything.

They have chosen that polite euphemism called a "trade war," you know--that "deal-making" that will make us nostalgic for the Transpacific Partnership's gentler kinder rape of the developing world.  

They have embraced that stinking religious bigotry that burns down the "other's" place of worship in the name of their vengeful god.

Ironic, they bill themselves as "Constitutionalists," but personify bottomless civic illiteracy.

More ironic, they'll burn down the house that is their own country to "Make America Great, again." 

They cannot tell the difference between a tabloid story about alien abduction and the science of anything-at-all, and they choose the former because it's more salacious. 

Their country is an episode of Jerry Springer: blowing it up is a reasonable solution to boredom.

We'll wring our hands about how this election reflects the "discontent of the hard-working white laboring classes," how the collapse of the manufacturing base has blighted this silent majority, compelling them to vote for change.

Bull shit to that. 

Economic hardship needn't seek scapegoats. It can unionize. It had heroes in decent human beings like Bernie Sanders. And they chose hatred instead.

And this time these folks didn't have to go looking for others to blame: Trump gave to every white man regardless his fortunes license to  invert the facts of history and see himself as a victim--a newly recruited soldier in the Great White Army ready to build The Wall.

Truth is--Trump has grabbed every white male sucker who voted for him by the pussy. But that warm little squeeze will quickly become a stone-cold vice once the euphoria starts to wear off. 

All but the whitest and wealthiest will be fucked. For Donald Trump is a liar of the most cancerous sort. He lies to himself. And then he lies to you. And then you wait for things to get better. They won't. 

That white nationalist may be patting himself on the back this morning,  smacking his wife on the ass and telling her to like it. 

But thinking he's won the lottery isn't going to bring back even one manufacturing job.

It's not going to put more coal in the ground.

It's not going to bring a single multinational corporation to heal. 

Nope. And the turgid greasy resentment he already feels is just going to fester once he figures that out.

Morning in America:

Hate. Crimes.



The militarization of everything.

The celebration of willful ignorance.

The gutting of public education in the name of "choice."

The deterioration of the last thin threads of civil public discourse.

Emergency room healthcare for those who cannot afford to be rimmed by health insurance profiteers.

Elderly folks who die held hostage by pharmaceutical companies.

Indigenous peoples whose lands and artifacts are ground-up by the backhoes of the fossil fuel behemoths.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
The continuation of a two-party system that makes a mockery of democracy.  

The debauchery of the United State's Supreme Court.

Global disbelief.

And worst of all:

To elect a megalomaniacal Troglodyte like Donald J. Trump is like hurling a Molotov Cocktail at the planet.

Global warming needs no accelerant.

Wendy Lynne Lee