David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World. Chapter 3, The Origins of Antiblack Racism in the New World and Chapter 4, How Africans Became Integral to New World History.
To protest in the name of morality againstexcessesorabusesis an error which hints at active complicity. There are noabusesorexcesseshere, simply an all-pervasive system.
—Simone de Beauvoir
There are no enforceable laws against flag desecration in the United States. There have been no such laws for over twenty five years. But bring up flag burning and a lot of American nationalists — especially, it seems, political conservatives — will get pretty heated about their right to beat people up who express Patriotically Incorrect political views, or to beat people up just for being a dirty hippie. This kind of appeal to crude instinctual violence only goes so far however, so if the conversation goes on, many of them (more, it seems, in the last few years) will come around to make a claim that it is actually illegal to burn a U.S. flag, and that people can be arrested for doing it. They are completely mistaken about that claim. But it’s interesting, and a bit scary, that they are so pervasively and repetitively and insistently mistaken.
Let’s set aside for the moment the question of whether or not there’s anything wrong with burning a U.S. flag in protest. And let’s set aside for the moment whether or not there’d be anything wrong with burning a U.S. flag in protest if it were illegal. We’ll come back to that later, but it’s a separate question.
Those who claim that burning an American flag is illegal rarely cite a source for this claim. If they do, they will normally point to something like 18 USC 700, on
Desecration of the flag of the United States. What they don’t seem to have noticed is that 18 USC 700 has no legal force. It hasn’t had any legal force for two and a half decades. It’s still printed in copies of the U.S. code, but both that law, and any law substantially like it, were struck down as violations of free speech rights a quarter century ago in Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman. This is not a new development. It’s been the case for decades.
The claim that flag-burning is illegal or punishable by law is pure nationalist political mythology. There is no enforceable law against flag desecration in the United States. If you claim that there is, you’ve been misinformed, and you are spreading misinformation.
Now, of course, even if there were an enforceable law against desecrating or burning a flag, your own property, whenever you see fit to do so, that law would be a petty tyranny, an obvious and stupid invasion of people’s basic rights to freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Using force to censor and curtail basic freedom of speech and basic property rights is wrong, and fundamentally unjust, no matter what the law says.
If it were illegal to burn flags, then every one of us would have a perfect right to burn flags in defiance of the law, as an act of civil disobedience against unjust restrictions on free speech. Laws that elevate the symbolism of a piece of cloth over the rights of living people to the integrity of their own minds, their own bodies, and their own property, — laws that propose censorship and punitive force against those whose peaceful protests offend the delicate sensibilities of Patriotic Correctness — deserve nothing but contempt and defiance, whenever and wherever they exist.
But of course they don’t even exist in this case. They’re pure mythology. But myths are created and repeated because they serves a political and cultural function. There’s something worth noting in the fact that so many of the self-appointed Home Guard have a manifest felt need, that they so badly want to believe in a government that can and will use violence to punish offenses against the dignity of their national flag, even in spite of what they could have found out with two minutes’ research on the Internet. This kind of violent Patriotic Correctness is, of course, nothing more than bullying and violent censorship. A form of bullying and violent censorship where many of the bullies and the censors so desperately feel the need for government support that they will conjure non-existent laws to back up their burning desire to punch a hippie in the face. The saddest thing of all is that they will tell you that they do this because the flag means so very much, and it means so very much because it stands for
freedom. That should tell you something about the kind of American Nation, and the kind of
freedom, that they are so exercised to protect against the scourge of peaceful protest and free speech.
My own view of course is that sedition and open disrespect for the government are American traditions, and they deserve to be honored.
Happy Revolution Day weekend.
So perish all compromises with tyranny! And let all the people say, Amen!—William Lloyd Garrison
-  Occasionally they will point to the Federal Flag Code (4 U.S.C Ch. 1 § 5 and following) instead. But the Flag Code is explicitly purely advisory; if you read it, you’ll find that it never claims to be anything more than a list of etiquette and customs that the government specifies as guidance for
such civilians or civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated by one or more executive departments of the Government of the United States.It has no legally binding force for anyone who isn’t in the employment of the United States government. You don’t commit any crime by disregarding it and there are no penalties for violating it. ↩
From college to law school to professional life, from student visa to work visa, I have scrupulously followed every immigration regulation, paid all my taxes, filed all the papers I had to file, and have not so much as received a parking ticket. But it turns out that following all the rules is not enough. A move into public interest work unexpectedly fell through, leading to the imminent cancellation of my work visa. Following all of Uncle Sam’s rules has led me, 15 years down the road, to a plane ticket booked on short notice to anywhere but here. Maybe at some point in the indefinite future I will be able to come back, but I cannot count on it, certainly not the when or the how. Maybe in five years, maybe 10, maybe never. I have done battle with the US immigration system for a decade and half, and I have lost.
Numerous American friends, when the subject of my immigration status came up, have said to me things to the effect of, “Why don’t you just become a citizen?” To the Americans I have known, it really seems that people, or at least law-abiding people like me, should be able to just go down to the DMV, fill out some paperwork, and get citizenship. Time and again I have had to disabuse my friends of this misconception. What matters when it comes to obtaining citizenship is your “status” while you’re in America, and your status can be difficult to change. Years spent as a student do not count. Neither do years on a work visa unless your employer is willing to sponsor your green card. Right now there is no viable path for me to gain citizenship or even to stay in this country, because right now there is no way for me to get a green card.
— William Han, I spent the last 15 years trying to become an American. I’ve failed.
Vox (23 June 2015)
When people say
I’m not against immigration, I just want immigrants to follow the rules, what that actually means, in practice, is
I’m not against immigration, I just think people should have to wait in line forever and find out after years of waiting that it’s still literally impossible for them to legally stay in the U.S.
Borders are an injustice, an imposition, a usurpation, and a callous inhumanity. They seek out, attack and destroy everything that is precious and respect nothing that is loving or compassionate in human life. It is unconscionable that anyone should be expected to get ground through the gears of a monster bureaucratic machine like this in order to prove the validity of living their lives. Borders and citizenship and border-control laws and government permission-slips have no value compared to a human life, and they deserve no notice except to be trampled underfoot. Everyone should be free to immigrate without restriction and all currently documented and undocumented immigrants should be completely free from government scrutiny or nativist shaming.
\#NoBorders #NoDeportations #NotOneMore #AbolishICE #AbolishUSCIS #NoOneIsIllegal
So the city council of Detroit is now debating plans for the city’s upcoming River Days and Freedom Festival firework shows, held each year in downtown Detroit. This year, one of the plans under discussion is whether or not to celebrate Freedom Festival by imposing a city-wide curfew. If passed, the curfew would make it so that nobody 17 or younger would be allowed to be outside on their own in public, anywhere in the city of Detroit, at any time starting at six o’clock in the evening. If you want to celebrate yer Freedom, you can do it only in the presence of a guardian; and the curfew would allow the police to demand papers from anyone at any time after six, in order to prove their age and identity.
This is, of course, yet another assault on the basic civil liberties of teens and children, and yet another massive increase in the police’s power to harass, punish and detain young people, from the Detroit city government. It is an intolerable assault on the city of Detroit — i.e., on the people who live in Detroit and on their ability to inhabit and enjoy the city that they call home. The proposed Freedom Festival Curfew is a shameful measure. It ought to be rejected out of hand, and if passed, it deserves to be ridiculed and defied as much as possible.
#Detroit #Curfew #AbolishTheCityCouncil #FreedomFestivalIsntFree