The Media Labels Occupy Un-American Thanks To Oakland Flag Burners

There are few historically important events without an iconic moment defining an accomplishment or purpose more than an image that serves as a rallying cry to attract support and instill a sense of purpose to continue moving forward. Some American iconic moments are the space program’s image of an American standing on the surface of the moon, or the image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressing a Civil Rights rally in Washington D.C., or the sight of passenger jets crashing into the Twin Towers on 9/11. The Occupy movement lacked a single, iconic image until this past weekend in Oakland and it is tragic, but the image of protestors burning  an American flag may become the face of a promising movement that has the potential of rallying 99% of the country against corporate involvement in government.

The previous images of law enforcement officials using pepper spray on students sitting peacefully at U.C . Davis in California, or a war veteran shot in the face by riot police were the face of police violence against peaceful protestors, and they engendered support from Americans who believed protestors were exercising their Constitutional rights. Those images were supplanted by irresponsible protestors and it verified Republicans, teabaggers, and all manner of conservatives’ contention that the movement was little more than unruly malcontents and thugs intent on destroying America. The flag burning image from Occupy Oakland vindicated Eric Cantor’s assertion that the movement was un-American and a bunch of miscreants bent on violence. The entire movement is tainted and unless  the burning flag image fades from Americans’ consciousness,  Occupy may have to return in a few years when they mature.

The incident is unique to Oakland, but because conservatives waited patiently for one stupid individual to make their case against Occupy for them, they were rewarded beyond their wildest dreams. In the past few days, conservative websites displayed the image of a protestor with the  burning flag, and included one caption; “Enough said.” Several sites incorporated audio of Nancy Pelosi saying Democrats “embraced the Occupy movement” with the image of Occupiers burning the flag. Occupy Oakland handed Republicans ammunition they need to associate Democrats with flag-burning, un-American, and violent protestors for the upcoming general election.

It is true that not all Occupiers were involved or advocated burning an American flag, but regardless of the numbers, every city’s Occupy movement will be associated with the iconic image of anti-American sentiment. An Occupy Oakland spokesman who has appeared in  interviews since the start of the movement tried to avoid the flag incident, but his deer in the headlights stare did little to conceal his anguish at having to explain the stupid actions of protestors who, besides burning an American flag, vandalized and sprayed graffiti on buildings. His explanation that the vandals, thugs, and flag-burner were the same “small contingent” of “probably Anarchists” means organizers should have taken steps to prevent the public relations nightmare. This same spokesperson has used the same small contingent phrase too many times, and it gives the appearance that organizers were lax in laying out specific instructions to maximize the effect and sacrifice of the movement.

Now the tea party can legitimately claim their rallies and protests were nothing like the Occupy movement and conservatives will use images of a burning American flag as proof Occupy is anti-American; they will also use the image of flag burning as justification for police brutality. In an election year, Republicans will associate Occupiers with Arabs burning American flags and will claim there is no difference between them and Islamic extremists.

The Occupy movement’s potential to effect change in how government works was impaired in Oakland and conservative-owned media already took advantage of Occupiers torching an American flag. In a medium-sized city 70 miles from Oakland, a newspaper that refused to mention the Occupy movement for months ran a front page story defining the movement with the flag burning incident. It is wrong, but one small group sullied a potentially game-changing grassroots movement and it should serve as a wake-up call to Occupy’s organizers that they still need rudimentary organization skills and definitive goals to attract focused supporters.

Occupy Oakland owes the movement an apology for nearly wasting their sacrifice and commitment to make America a democracy again. It is meaningless what police have done, or which same small contingent are responsible for flag burning, vandalism and attacks on police; Occupy Oakland must curtail these public relation nightmares. It just took a small group to distinguish the movement as immature and now, as anti-American. The Occupy movement’s iconic image should be committed and peaceful Americans exercising their constitutional rights and feeding homeless Americans, but those images were deleted when a small group in Oakland mimicked anti-American Arabs and burned an American flag. The morons who burned the flag ultimately expressed disrespect and contempt for America, and they accomplished what Republicans have dreamt of since the movement’s inception; a self-inflicted public relations nightmare to define the movement.

21 Replies to “The Media Labels Occupy Un-American Thanks To Oakland Flag Burners”

  1. I agree with your assessment of Oakland closed the movement an apology.

    But quite frankly the government and the Republicans have been quite successful in turning attention away from the movements message and onto the movement itself. And they sure haven’t turned any attention to the actions of the police. I would suspect that president Obama would come down hard on the police chiefs and could easily do so without saying I support the move. Here we are at a time when the police can do it they want in our political parties can’t do anything because they might appear to support something. Occupy movements are some of the most important movements in the United States since the 60s and prior to that the events that led up to our eventual freedom from England. It appears that the banks and financial entities have already won against the occupy movements. The movement has to morph into something more than just people standing in the park because that isn’t cutting it.

  2. “Probably the most American thing you can do” is to be an educated voter.

    Burning the flag is small-minded, provocative and playing right into the hands of the hate-mongers at Fox. Or simply put, dumb ass.

  3. That’s because the real anti-American nuts on the right hate freedom so much that they use excuses like burning a cloth symbol as an excuse to try to control people with big government.

  4. Why do it? They aren’t elevating some other country as superior to the one they are in, are they? I remember in the 60s when people burned flags they were over adulating Vietnam and even China. But now? Where are they going to run to? I thought the whole point of Occupy was to show how ours could be a fairer and more equitable society.

    Or was it, as in the sixties, some agents provocateurs who did this to tarnish the movement and make it a target? I recall in NYC any would-be violent occupiers were ousted. Why not so in Oakland? Violence does not help. They gained sympathy when the police were violent toward them and they did not try to return the ‘compliment.’ Really they aren’t Viet Cong who knew how to outwit the heavily armored forces against them. These kinds wouldn’t have a shot at making any kind of dent in the militarized police force we have today.

  5. No kidding. Dumb f*ckers.
    It’s hard enough convincing people that the Occupy movement is on their side when they show body-painted hippies playing bongoes.
    This stupid move is another nail in the OWS coffin. T shirts, bumper stickers and signs (in other words, symbols) are real important to the Fox base…burning a flag will get top billing. We’ll be hearing about this for a long time.

  6. This one STUPID move may loose our chance at freedom in this country. Unlike the damned 1%, we have to be spotless and blameless… because of things like this.

    You can’t tell the brainwashed idiots in the Republican party that their government uses agent provocateurs, or that there are idiots “out there” who are constantly trying to co-op the Occupy message to their own ends.

    And I’d tell the Occupy movement to make it clear to the anarchists that they aren’t welcome. IMO, there is no difference between the Tea Party and the anarchists, except in appearance.

  7. Yeah. I’d take them more seriously if they occupied a VOTING BOOTH rather than Wall Street. Oh, and nice move, dumbasses. Set fire to a flag-yeah, that’ll get the middle class on your side-especially the ones who have served in the ARMED FORCES. Way to go.

  8. This smells like agents provocateurs, which I knew would turn up shortly. Somebody find out who these people are, and why cameras were so handy.

  9. I did not say that burning a flag was a good idea. I think that burning a flag is the ultimate symbol of civil disobedience and free speech. It will only hurt the movement because of morons that think that burning a flag is un-American.

  10. It WAS an extremely idiotic thing to do, especially within a movement that is about justifiable anger over the economic inequities in this country. Agent provocateurs have always been around, and they can do the most damage to even the most well-intentioned movement.

  11. as a child of the 60’s, i was kind of afraid this was going to happen… burning the flag is probably the most provacative, polarizing act you can do to energized the right wingers.. im seeing a negative reaction on other left leaning sources today, by our freinds.. im not entirely convinced that this was not perpetrated provacatuers, as i’m sure they know the valuue of the symbol..

    i still remember Jane Fonda being photographed in Hanoi, manning an anti aircraft gun..and the coverage of some idiot waving a Viet Cong flag while perched on a statue in a Chicago park.. those images set the anti war movement back considerably.. this is the red meat that feeds the hate machine.. and it’s picked up and spread by a press who will cover sensationalism, above the message..

    sorry about any spelling errors dyslexic poster

  12. Problem is, there’s a lot of people who are NOT morons who are also offended by flag burning. You’ve got to think of those people too. Also, some of the people you’re trying to get over to your side served in the Armed Forces. You think THEY like that? Of course not. Civil disobedience and free speech does NOT give you the right to throw a temper tantrum.

  13. The good thing about cameras… we have pictures of the perps.

    The Occupy movement needs to check on those people and back-track them. I’d bet that they expose some operatives.

  14. If indeed this is the case, the ass-hats will AGAIN be shown for their true colors and this will die down (not). It’s a great “revenge fantasy” to say the least, but, unless the “anarchist” were arrested for something, they walked away. It won’t be for many years before one of them comes forth and confesses that they were paid to do the dirty deed.
    Let us “pray” that a reporter, an astute citizen, gets the drop on who dunnit.

  15. The right-wingers are already energized. The country is already polarized to an extreme. Flag-burning literally sends the message that America is burning. I’m not necessarily advocating it, but it does make a point and has since the 60’s. Perhaps a better country will arise from the ashes, but the one we have now makes a travesty of the principles upon which it was founded.

  16. People are free to do alot of things. Burning a flag puts you on the wrong side of 99 percent of the country. To do it at an Occupy rally was selfish and stupid. They hijacked a movement to get themselves on TV. I can let the guy who crapped on a police car slide. That was just some drunk idiot. The burning of the flag was premeditated

  17. I live in the bay area and know some Occupy Oakland members. They can not identify the person who burned the flag and that person never attended the general assemblies. I believe this was a set up by some agent provocateurs or tea party to smear Occupy. This will come out once all the occupy people get out of jail and regroup.

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