OWS and Flag Burning

Posted on January 31, 2012 by

Occupy Wall Street protests across the country were pivotal in making economic inequality a national issue.

But since the sites were cleared out a few months ago, activists who claim to represent OWS in its present form haven’t added very much to the pubic discussion.

Though it’s hard to sort through who did what, the American flag burning episode in Oakland gives the right-wing a “we told you so” opportunity.

December’s “general strike” at the California ports – denounced by ILWU officials – aggravated union leaders.

And the New Year’s Pasadena Rose Parade demonstration didn’t get much traction at all.

This may not be the right time to kick up a big fuss about the direction of this movement.  Progressives admired and appreciated the occupiers and credit those protests for helping Barack Obama hone a more populist message.

Maybe it’s just the nature of insurgencies that the clique that lingers on past prime time begins to feel marginalized.

And then starts acting out.

The way the weathermen went bonkers, for example, in the late 60s / early 70s.

I prefer the OWS focus on foreclosures.

But we might have to just wait and see how this movement evolves.

In the meantime, here’s a question:

Does anyone think it would be a good idea for OWS protesters to provoke a confrontation at the Democratic Convention in September?

Comments (7)


  1. DK McLeod says:

    If the above-the-law impunity of the bankers who created this crisis has demonstrated anything, it’s that ours is now (contrary to what we always were taught, and believed) “a nation of Men, not Laws” — or, as a local gardener put it recently, it’s shown that, in this New Economic Order (“NEO”), “It’s better to be a thief.”
    The Wall St. thieves who enthusiastically, and unapologetically, gang-raped the Statue of Liberty, corrupting both our democracy and our economic system (“free” market capitalism) in one fell swoop, may very well use that one desperate, extreme, symbolic act to fight progressive reform. But if we don’t Bust Big Banks, put the perpetrators in jail (yes, CEOs in jail), and dismantle their corrupt “credit” system (epitomized by the manipulations of “Fair” Isaac) — if their continuing, self-serving, unreformed use of their “fellow” citizens’ money as chips for winner-take-all, rigged casino (crony) capitalism, leads to another crash, as many economists think it inevitably will –then we’ll all have bigger things to worry about than the symbols they themselves have degraded and defiled. Real patriots “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Our new, unelected Lords and Masters, who have enslaved this country (indeed, the world) in Debt (overseas, they don’t speak vaguely about a “financial” crisis; they speak of a “Debt” crisis), have turned that selfless patriotic principle on its head (The Fed being the pre-eminent symbol of what their country “can do for them”). And it’s well past time they were held to account.

  2. michael says:

    Let ‘em confront the Republicans.

  3. David Newby says:

    1) You omit a very real possibility: the flag-burner was a paid provocateur.

    2) I and many others in the labor movement did “economic education” presentations from the mid-1990′s and after that focused on economic inequality in America and how workers were no longer reaping any rewards from increased productivity. The results of our efforts were not game-changing! Neither were any of the highly-promoted AFL-CIO campaigns on economic justice issues.

    But within a few weeks, the Occupy movement put these issues front and center within the American public. We have much to learn from this experience–and no reason to believe that the Occupy spirit and movement are dead.

    In New York and elsewhere, the Labor Movement is learning from the Occupy Movement–and the Occupy Movement is learning from unions. THIS is what we need to be nurturing and supporting and promoting all over the country.

    • DK McLeod says:

      Yes, based on my own experience helping pass the Assassination Records Release Act of 1992 (reluctantly signed in the dead of night by Bush #1 during the waning days of his losing campaign against Clinton) — where at least one trusted “ally” (a big name in the Washington DC PR business) was almost certainly CIA — I can easily believe that the flag-burner was a ringer.
      Was it Machiavelli or Lao-tsu who said, “Keep your enemies close”? and in cases like these, that’s often what they do.
      Incidentally, the reaction of the CIA to the requirements of that law was this: Ten thousand pages of documents completely “redacted” (censored, blacked out) with black felt pens (the only legible words were things like “and” and “however.”) The attitude seemed to be “Government? We are the Government!”

  4. Brad Cagle says:

    As sideline observers, the “labor movement” watches from its wheelchair what the OWS does or doesn’t do. Will the OWS achieve something or just become capitalist establishment rhetoric, for Democratic office seekers? Perhaps. However, likening the the OWS to the wheathermen, is more than a little bit of a stretch, my brother.

  5. Rey says:

    I agree…would make more sense for OWS to focus on Forclosures, Tax Reform, & Overturning Corporate Citizenship. The Flag Burning is where you lose me…you want your public elected official to work for more popular policies…then at least demonstrate in a manner that is free of unpopular views. The Majority of us that are pissed off with our current system and the manner our elected official behave within it don’t hold any flag burning or “die AMERICA die” sentiments…absolutely the opposite is true. We are on the sentiment of let’s work now to make AMERICA what we are destined to be… a nation of strength, unity, equality & justice for all in our everyday content to mirror what on the surface we have claimed to be for so long. Now, I say this assuming that the flag burning was in fact some OWS participants and not some paid and planted individuals to give OWS a black eye and a traget for the ELITE FEW to shoot at and say I told you so. Let’s not ever forget that this type of infiltration does happen and will continue to happen.

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