Friday, January 6, 2012

Please Don't Burn OUR Flag.

I sent the following letter to the Editor at the Charlotte Observer in response to last weeks burning of an American flag in Charlotte during the Occupy Charlotte protests by Alex Tyler, Jason Bargert, Michael Behrle and Stephen Morris.

My letter was prompted by Mr. Bargert's subsequent defense of his action, which was printed in the Charlotte Observer on January 4th. While I do NOT believe in a Constitutional Amendment concerning the burning of the American flag, I will never understand, nor condone, such a divisive action. John Lennon said it best in the song "Revolution" when he sang "...if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone, anyhow." Mr. Bargert, at the age of 28, seems not yet old enough to understand that sentiment.

In the interest of fairness, which is a hallmark of our nation's founding, symbolized by the flag, I have reprinted Mr. Bargert's article below my rebuttal.

Bargert's Actions Misguided; Flag Symbolizes All of Us.

Jason Bargert, you seem to have missed the whole point of the Occupy movement.

That flag you burned symbolizes the people of this great nation, not the culprits you are protesting. The thing that should be burned in effigy is a figure of the politicians who have stolen that flag from its rightful owners - We the People.

Please do not burn anymore of our flags. The Occupy movement is only hurt by your misguided actions.

This is the letter from Jason Bargert, of Charlotte, defending his burning of the flag.

I, along with three others, set fire to the United States flag on the lawn at 600 E. Trade St. in front of the Occupy Charlotte camp. Though I have been openly involved with Occupy Charlotte, I did not provide notice or acquire approval for my actions, as is the policy of Occupy Charlotte. In this protest we acted as individuals, not as occupiers.

I would like to express that I intended no disrespect to the individual enlisted men, women, and veterans living and deceased. These people have entered service to the people of their nation and take a vow to protect their loved ones and countrymen. I hold our veterans in the highest regard knowing that their motives were not always the same as those who send them into battle.

The flag I burned was an effigy to the aggressive colonialism, destructive corporate policy, and utter negligence that the United States government has shown for the people's welfare and well being on a global scale.

I will apologize for the difficulty that my wife, family, and Occupy Charlotte must endure in the shockwave of my actions. My home and social life are in shambles, and I am aware that no one is responsible for this but myself.

I do, however, without remorse set fire to the hypocrisy, negligence, puppetry of our system, and adherence to flags and nationalism in the place of rational governance and compassion. The burning of the flag (to me) is an act that asserts the right of the people over the government. America is ruled by the people, not the government. I believe that it is our patriotic duty at this juncture to make that assertion. Flag burning is a patriotic act carried out by people who care deeply enough about our freedoms to challenge directly the government when it becomes a threat to the people. Patriots who love America burn flags.

I have received an outpouring of support from other occupiers, occupations, and individuals who understand the symbolism of my action. The local movement was unified in their contempt for the event that took place. They were, on the other hand, divided on the issue of whether or not those who participated should be banned. Most who seemed resolved to my removal had been working with the Charlotte City Council and local church groups to build a relationship in order to stop or postpone the ordinance that will remove the encampment. The encampment itself voted not to expel me.

The City Council has postured against the movement by drafting this ordinance in the first place. They have shown that they will, with full knowledge of the facts, welcome a corrupt corporation with an endless list of human rights violations into our community, and pay their moving expenses and taxes (Chiquita). To placate this council in order to keep the camp on grounds is not a victory. I hope that Occupy Charlotte will move away from a focus on public image and welcome an era of action.

I am very grateful for the movement's decision not to ban me. I am, however, saddened by the lack of support I have received. This being considered, I respectfully, and with overwhelming sadness resign my direct participation with Occupy Charlotte. This is by no means a resignation from my duties as an activist and active participant in the cause of freedom.

Jason Bargert
Charlotte, NC

1 comment:

  1. Just got around to looking at this. Lovely rebuttal. Really. Just full of amazing counterpoints that match, if not exceed the quality of my own expression. You nailed it in three sentences. Kudos.