Ferguson Files: Flag Burning or How to Lose Hearts and Minds in the Midwest

When I wrote the original piece, posted yesterday, for this blog, back in September, I didn’t publish it right away because we were in the “grinding” phase of protesting and organizing.  Now, we are in the thick of it and it’s not pretty.

No, protests are not supposed to be pretty, but they are supposed to actually educate and, hopefully, sway people’s opinion on an issue.  Last night in South Shaw was not, in my opinion, such a protest.  No one seemed swayed today, unless it was to give me grief about “those protestors in Shaw burning flags” and tell me that they’d lost respect for the movement that’s been percolating here.  Yeah, that fast, the “fence sitters” have sat down opposite the movement and its’ goals of displaying racism along with its’ deadly effects and coming to grips with it, here and all over this country.

Yes, flag burning is legal, it’s even a “correct” way to dispose of an old flag.  Does it make sense?  In St. Louis Metro and in the Midwest, the answer is pretty much a resounding “No!”  We here are surrounded by military and retired military who hold that symbol in something approaching reverence.   Most places in the Midwest do so as well.  Burning it in the street just closes their eyes and ears to the protestors.  It makes them more likely to believe it’s just a bunch of trouble makers, hoodlums and some things I refuse to type.  This makes any kind of movement towards correction of police policies and procedures, reducing racism and putting the “neighbor” back in the “hood” so much harder.

The Midwest, where not much credit is given to us for being progressive, that much harder of a nut to crack with progressive ideas.  So, welcome to St. Louis, please have a great time and please, don’t mess up our movement.  I promise, it will be in a town near you sometime really soon, if it’s not there already.



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