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News & Editorials

The Symbol of Freedom

by Mark Kohler


Jerry Jones has made several good points in his multi-part article, "The Symbol of War." (Part 1, Part 2) He is absolutely right in saying that the time has come for the Freedom movement to come together and adopt a symbol that represents its core beliefs. Public protests and rallies, as he indicated, are essential to our cause. And, we need to recruit new people as often as possible.

Almost all Americans know in their hearts that liberty is the best path for our country, but many, if not most, of them have been gulled by the dishonest, leftist media into believing that certain aspects of that freedom are dangerous to themselves, their children, and their fellow man. They do not yet realize that yielding the power of determination of an individual's life to government is vastly more dangerous than reserving that power to the individual citizens.

Our tasks, as supporters of liberty, justice, and constitutional republican government, are to recruit and educate citizens so that they may support these ideas, to instill pride and confidence in those who share our views, and to let our opponents, who look to subject the American people to their will, know that there is fire behind our words.

In this struggle that we face, attitude is everything. We must remain positive, but not overconfident; we must not carry out unwarranted aggression, but neither should we remain passive. We must support freedom of all kinds, regardless of our personal feelings. If we want others to respect freedoms that we value, we must be willing to respect freedoms that they value. No longer can Second Amendment supporters afford to advocate the right to keep and bear arms while disavowing the equally fundamental right of the individual to do as he pleases with his own body. Failing to support all manner of freedoms costs us credibility and is nothing short of hypocritical. While we may see the preservation of the right to keep and bear arms as the paramount freedom issue of the day, and focus almost entirely on this issue, we cannot be content to accept the conservative tradition of fighting an unconstitutional War on Drugs as some kind of necessary evil, as long as conservatives leave our guns alone. In our hearts and minds, every Second Amendment supporter must also become a civil libertarian, as we work to tear down the artificial divide between conservatives and liberals, so that the people may see issues in terms of liberty and tyranny. This will show us to be what we truly are: Americans concerned with preserving the freedom, dignity, and well-being of other Americans.

The symbol that we select must reflect our attitude. It must invoke feelings of pride, respect, honor, and loyalty within all of those who look upon it. Its meaning should be unmistakable, and it should not divide or embitter any of our countrymen - it should be a symbol of inclusion and something that everyone can cherish. Whether or not it's a symbol that many people already own or not is largely irrelevant. We should not sacrifice the aforementioned qualities for cheapness or convenience.

For Liberty advocates nationwide to fly upside-down U.S. flags would be a serious mistake. Like most Americans, I have taken a pledge of allegiance to the Fifty Star United States flag. I'm not about to fly one upside down. I consider the Fifty Star flag sacred, but unfortunately, it will not suffice as a symbol for our cause because it's being used by a government that seems to have lost all respect for the ideals of our forefathers. Likewise, Confederate flags are entirely inappropriate for our symbol. Whatever else the Confederacy may have represented will be forever marred by its defense of human slavery, the antithesis of everything held dear to the Liberty advocate. I have no doubt that Mr. Jones means well in suggesting the upside-down flag, but he's wrong on this one.

An upside-down American flag does not bring any positive feelings to mind. It is, by its very nature, a negative symbol. To a few, it will represent the fact that our Republic is in trouble. But to most people, an upside down flag will mark its owner as an anti-government extremist. The media will not have a great deal of difficulty in furthering this image. An upside down flag would speak only to people within the Liberty movement rather than to those outside it, much like some of the distasteful bumper stickers and T-shirts found at gun shows (which I've been guilty of displaying, too) that say things like, "I still miss my ex, but my aim is improving." Upside-down American flags, camouflage clothing in public places, and inflammatory slogans are the best and fastest way to help Handgun Control Inc. and company win their public relations effort. All these things serve to scare away, rather than recruit, people of more moderate disposition. Rather than parading around that way, we need to be the thoughtful, centered people passing out copies of the Constitution at protests so that we can videotape the Million Mom Marchers tearing them up and spitting on them. Though arguing with those who only seem to recognize blind emotional hysteria is a tedious process, it's infinitely more effective than the kind of preaching-to-the-choir inherent in flying upside down flags and displaying "pro-gun" bumper stickers, all of which does little for gun owners besides giving them bad public relations and a false sense of security about their rights.

All that said, only one logical choice remains; the Betsy Ross flag, an American flag with thirteen stars forming a circle. The Betsy Ross flag was the first true American flag, representing a deep and abiding belief in freedom and resistance to tyranny. Under this flag the very first American patriots marched toward victory. Those familiar with it know that it represents the longing for freedom and the struggle to build a nation that our forefathers faced, while almost all of those who aren't familiar with it will recognize it as an American flag of some type - therefore, it will immediately be seen in a positive light. But, should the flag not be instantly recognized, it is better for its meaning to remain unknown or unclear than for its meaning to be misunderstood in a negative way, as would certainly be the case with an upside down Fifty Star flag. Regardless, if the Betsy Ross Flag is flown more often, its meaning will become better known. Nothing negative can be legitimately attached to it by anyone; it invokes exactly the kind of pride and respect that the Liberty movement so desperately needs. Someone who flies it will be recognized as pro-freedom and anti-tyranny, an individual longing to restore the kind of liberty and respect for the individual that existed in post-revolutionary America.

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Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. George Bernard Shaw

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