Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Koran Flushing and Flag Burning.

I'm sure you've all read about the Koran flushing story that Newsweek ran, and how it resulted in riots, and people are dead, and now Newsweek admits that the story is false.

The Newsweek story is about symbols and the weight that they carry in individual lives. Americans can't comprehend a symbol being so sacred that we would kill or die for it. Yet, there are cultures in the world who will kill or die over a symbol. In the United States, flag burning has long been considered a legal form of protected speech.

I'm just an old veteran who has stood in harms way. I still get teary-eyed when the flag passes by. Still, I'm not going to kill someone over burning a flag. I'll revile them, choose not to associate with them. Won't do business with them, nor buy their products, whether those products be movies or songs. I don't try to wreak violence on flag burners.

My personal forefathers came from Ireland, Germany, Scotland, and France. They gave up their countries to found new families, new associations, new lives in a place where the tenor of a man was more important than the symbols he stood under. They gave up one flag and took up another for a better life. The westward migration of the American experience contains thousands of stories just like mine.

For most Americans, symbols are just that. Symbolic of something else. The Bible to me is sacred for the thoughts it contains and the nature of the divinity it reveals. I believe that the Holy Bible is the revealed word of God. I keep a couple of Bibles around the house, but I know that the presses are cranking out new Bibles even as I type this. I've probably thrown out Bibles in the past, and when the useful life of my current bible has passed, I'll pitch it too.

For me, and I suspect for most Americans, the difference is that I am more a believer in ideas and people than in symbols. Sure, flag burning pisses me off, but I have stood in defense of America and I would stand again in her defense. I would gladly give my life for the people I love and the places I cherish. My wife says that she lives under "my nuclear umbrella", and knows that as long as I draw breath, no one will offer violence to her or any member of my family. My family and my country are not symbols, they are real... they are tangible.. and I would die in their defense.

Newweek should have known better. Just because we Americans hold our symbols so lightly doesn't mean that every one feels the same way.

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