Oakland Occupy Protestors Show Their True Colors

The First Amendment is one of the hallmarks of the U.S. Constitution. Americans ought to have the legal right to express themselves and their grievances against the government. This right is fundamental, and the government ought to protect it.

Burning the American flag is a protected right under the First Amendment. Those who burn it have every legal right to do so. However, burning a prominent symbol of American prosperity and greatness is unnecessarily provocative and unhelpful in gaining sympathy for the protestors. Furthermore, it is insulting and demeaning to the tens of millions of American veterans and current service members. Moreover, it leads many to draw conclusions (fairly or unfairly) about those who burn the flag – namely, that the flag-burners hate America and all it stands for.

Not surprisingly, the thugs from the Oakland Occupy movement burned the American flag before they broke into Oakland’s City Hall, as if to underscore whom they truly represent – listless anarchists.

After all, why else would one burn an American flag?

Warning: The following video contains some profanity

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About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Conservative clean energy crusader, national security hawk, financial analyst, engineer, and former military officer.
This entry was posted in California, Crime, Media, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Oakland Occupy Protestors Show Their True Colors

  1. One of the many ironies here is that while these thugs are supposedly fighting “income inequality”, they are in fact justifying it. Who works harder: the person who doesn’t accept unemployment and instead goes out and thinks their way into a job (by either finding one or, better yet, creating one), or some entitlement-ridden, whiny thug like the one of these idiots above? More importantly, who deserves more pay? Imagine what these losers are like in the workplace?

  2. Maximilian Reinhard says:

    The actions done by the men and women in the video above are certainly abhorrent and if I were a little more prone to knee-jerk reactions I’d probably mutter some rather unflattering things that I believe should be done to them right now, but that being said I nonetheless think it’s important to refrain from labeling the entire Oakland branch of the Occupy movement due to the actions of a mere few.

    The Occupy movement has written a democratic approach on its banners thus naturally enjoys both the benefits and suffers the drawbacks that unrestricted public participation brings with it. There are plenty of entirely reasonable people that are part of the protests just as there are extremists that use them as a shield. It is my belief that we need to draw a line between those and not disregard any legitimate, potentially valuable commentary on the current state of the American social, political and economic systems for right now; after all, we surely can agree that those are somewhat broken and in dire need of repair.

    • Why shouldn’t we label it as such? The left has no such qualms about labeling the entire Tea Party movement as racist.

      That said, I think you point is a fair one so long as both sides extend the same courtesy to the other. That is – all Tea Partiers aren’t racist and all Occupiers aren’t treasonous criminals.

      • Maximilian Reinhard says:

        I can certainly agree with you on that – respect needs to go both ways if our political process is to work in a constructive manner. The Tea Party is a completely legitimate political platform in my eyes and should of course be treated as such as well, whether you agree with their views or not.

      • nickgbnickgb says:

        Sean, you’ve been getting pretty reactionary lately…

        Sure, not all Tea Partiers are racist. Many of them are.

        Find me a single occupier who is a “treasonous criminal”. And yes, I want proof of treason. Otherwise, quit the shrill cries about how the left was so mean to the Tea Party.

        • OK. That’s fair. They are not technically “treasonous” by any legal definition, but many of them are criminals. After all, over 400 were arrested, some of whom likely committed felonies.

          Sure, not all Occupiers are racist. Many of them are.

        • Nick,

          You seem to have had a strong reaction to this post. I admit it certainly has some hyperbolic elements. That said, any form of protest affects different people in different ways. For me, personally, it puts me in a deep rage because the protestors are attacking a symbol of American unity. After all, it is one of the main things the right and left have in common. To protestors it may represent the government. To me, it represents a grave insult to the nation and to those who served it. It makes me angry. It’s deeply disrespectful. The flag may represent the government to you, but to me it represents so much more.

          When I see people burn an American flag. I “know” where they stand. It confirms every stereotype I have about who they are and what they think. Moreover their subsequent actions confirmed what I suspected – that this particular group is a a group of thugs and self-loathing anarchists bent on nothing more than destruction.

        • nickgb says:

          I do have a strong reaction to this post, because I am really sick of people treating flag-burners like human scum. I’m not a big fan of it, but it’s a pretty wide statement. I have lots of family who served in the military, and I considered it myself at more than one point, and flag burning does not say to me: “I disrespect your family’s sacrifice”. I get that it gives some people that reaction, and while I think they are missing the point of it, I can’t exactly tell people how to feel.

          But if you’re writing a blog about rationality, you may want to take a few deep breaths before posting on something that gets you so worked up. Otherwise, you find yourself complaining about how unfairly the left treated the Tea Party, which I really do believe had significant elements of racism to its messaging, and in the same breath you are using words like treason to describe protesters you don’t like.

          When I see people burn an American flag. I “know” where they stand. It confirms every stereotype I have about who they are and what they think. Moreover their subsequent actions confirmed what I suspected – that this particular group is a a group of thugs and self-loathing anarchists bent on nothing more than destruction.

          I don’t know what “know” in quotations means. If you mean that it puts in you such a strong preconception that you cannot see past it, I get that, but that doesn’t mean that these people are “thugs” or “self-loathing anarchists”, whatever that means. For one thing, I’ve known my share of thugs in my life, and not a one of them ever thought of burning the flag.

          • I don’t think I was entirely clear. When I mentioned thugs and anarchists, I was explicitly referring to the group involved in this video. Police charged at least 4 of the Oakland protestors with committing a felony. That makes them thugs by any reasonable definition.

          • My opinion is that people who burn the flag are as much human scum as people who participate in clan rallies. They are engaging in an activity that they know is likely to be interpreted as hateful and mean-spirited, yet they do it anyway.

            They have a right to do it, but I also have a right to my opinion of their actions.

          • Nick, I don’t think I was clear. By thugs, I was referring explicitly to the group of protestors in this video, who ultimately and illegally broke into Oakland City Hall. Police arrested at least four of them for committing felonies. That makes them thugs by any reasonable definition.

  3. “There are plenty of entirely reasonable people that are part of the protests just as there are extremists that use them as a shield.”

    Really? Where are they then? Are we supposed to look for them at the end of a rainbow? Where’s their candidate? Where’s their public denouncement of these actions rather than unconditional support of their brethren across the country shown by their reserve of any sort of internal action against these guys, or even contempt? They might as well be leprechauns, but leprechauns or not, it’s clear that these so-called “reasonable” people have willingly chosen anarchists and thugs to represent them.

    And why can’t I call these flag-burners anarchists and thugs? The “fair share” left has labeled the Tea Party as racist based on conjecture yet the Occupy clowns have PROVEN time and time again that they have little regard for human safety (drugs, safety, ike putting kids on their front line), or either personal or public property. This isn’t conjecture – these are facts..

    These so-called “reasonable” people who are defending, rationalizing, or even romanticizing these thugs should simply break away and start a new moment that takes at least one or two steps to keep the thugs out of their ranks. I don’t see how anyone can say that they “believe in what Occupy stands for” yet stand by and continues to allow their anarchist brethren to commit unlawful acts in their name. Perhaps that’s the commonality between those who are burning flags on the ground and their supporters who wince at them on the sidelines yet still keep their hands in their pockets – they simply want someone else to do the hard work for them.

    Sorry for the strong words, but all I see 10 thug-like acts later is these same “reasonable” supporters of Occupy saying the same thing about these terrorists and defending them in the same way.

    Sure, the system is broken, but this isn’t the way to fix it.

    • nickgbnickgb says:

      “And why can’t I call these flag-burners anarchists and thugs?”

      Because burning the flag is a protest, not a symbol for anarchy or a violent crime. Do you think that the people who burned the flag to protest the Vietnam war were anarchists?

      • That depends – did they break the law? Did they cause damage to other public or personal property as they did it? I’ll concede the flag burn to free speech (although I find it despicable), but part of my point is that I’m done trying to individually separate these “I have a legitimate beef with the way our lawmakers are governing” people from the “I’m just along for the ride so i can wreck things” thugs when they insist on being together in the same group. It’s now complete guilt by association as far as I’m concerned.

        And as for the flag burn, I personally think they should be waving it saying they stand for what they think is the true America, not burning it. To me that would be a stronger statement.

        • nickgb says:

          It’s now complete guilt by association as far as I’m concerned.

          That’s a tough impulse, I know. It’s the same reason that people who hated the Tea Party called them racist. The difference, however, is that the Tea Party was largely aligned for goals that had racist overtones: birtherism, anti-immigrantism, etc. Occupy is not an anarchist movement at all, if anything it’s a protest for MORE government. And honestly, guilt-by-association is a pretty lousy argument, regardless of which side does it.

          And as for the flag burn, I personally think they should be waving it saying they stand for what they think is the true America, not burning it. To me that would be a stronger statement.

          Absolutely. Same for me. I think that America does stand for a lot of these principles (or at least should). But I’m not really the intended audience for the protest, and neither are you. And besides, they have every right to try to get their message out however they’d like. Our job is to look at the actual message, not the medium. (Mcluhan references in 3…2…1…)

          Anyway, I think flag-burning is moronic. I think that it alienates most people and, at best, simply gets you some free TV time. Once you have that camera on you, how do you explain your points? The crawler is simply going to read “Occupiers burn flag”, not “Occupiers burn flag to protest long-term capture of government by corporate interests). If we wanted to discuss the fact that this was a dumb way to protest, I’m all on board. But if everyone wants to start throwing around labels like “anarchism” and “treason” and “thugs”, I feel a need to set the record straight.

  4. nickgbnickgb says:

    Sean, this post is just hitting a new low.

    “Americans ought to have the legal right to express themselves and their grievances against the government. This right is fundamental, and the government ought to protect it.”

    Okay, we’re all on the same page. Burning the American flag is a sign of protest against the government, it’s protected speech, we want to preserve it.

    “However, burning a prominent symbol of American prosperity and greatness is unnecessarily provocative and unhelpful in gaining sympathy for the protestors. Furthermore, it is insulting and demeaning to the tens of millions of American veterans and current service members.”

    Wait, so now the flag represents prosperity? They’re protesting against American greatness? That’s a far cry from protesting against the government, which you have to acknowledge flag-burning to be. For example, throughout the Vietnam War, antiwar protesters burned American flags. They didn’t hate soldiers, they didn’t hate free speech, they didn’t hate American greatness. They hated that war, and I think they had the right side of the argument.

    “Moreover, it leads many to draw conclusions (fairly or unfairly) about those who burn the flag – namely, that the flag-burners hate America and all it stands for.”

    Well, that conclusion is definitely unfair. It’s a PROTEST OF THE GOVERNMENT, not a statement of hatred of America. It would be really absurd for someone to see that and infer that the protester “hates America and all it stands for.” I mean, that’s the kind of junk they’d have to be getting from some hyperbolic blog post…

    “Not surprisingly, the thugs from the Oakland Occupy movement burned the American flag before they broke into Oakland’s City Hall, as if to underscore whom they truly represent – listless anarchists. After all, why else would one burn an American flag?”

    Oh, I see where they’re getting it now! Please find a way to reconcile your first paragraph with your last paragraph, and I counsel against the half-assed innuendo about what “some people might infer”. Especially if you’re going to come right out and tell people to infer it.

    • I beg to differ on your point about Vietnam protestors and not hating soldiers. When many soldiers returned from that war, protestors spit on them and mocked their service to the nation. Heck that’s one of the reasons government had to make veterans a protected class via the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, in addition to ensuring their employment.

      • Shannon says:

        They brought that on themselves at My Lai.

        • All of them? Several hundred thousand people who served in Vietnam are responsible for the actions of fewer than one hundred people? Several hundred thousand of whom were drafted and many of whom were among the nation’s poor? Really?

          Let’s apply your logic here. Since 400 people were arrested for either attacking police or vandalizing government property, Americans should feel free to spit on or discriminate against anyone who ever managed to show up at an Occupy protest. Does that logic compute with you?

      • nickgb says:

        The number of people who spit on troops is tiny compared to the number of people who protested the war.

        Maybe I’m wrong, but I always thought the main thrust of the VEVRA was to force employers to hire vets… I’m curious to know how many people ever used the anti-discrimination parts that you’re talking about.

      • When many soldiers returned from that war, protestors spit on them

        Is that an urban legend, or were there contemporary accounts to lend it credibility?

        Anyway, the reason we care about the government is because it implements policies that affect people’s lives. Cultural resentment of protesters is a poor substitute for rational analysis of policies. I didn’t like the people playing drums who said that invading Iraq was a bad idea; I supported the invasion. But even though some of them were annoying to me, or had a bunch of foolish ideas, the fact is that they were right and I was wrong.

        • It is definitely not urban legend. My Regiment was a highly decorated one during the Vietnam War, and many veterans became senior Army leaders (Don Starry, Tom White, General Franks, etc.) or were Congressional Metal of Honor winners. Many of them came back to the Regiment to share their stories. A common theme was how they were treated when they returned to the country. I believe one of them was assaulted by a protestor, so he knocked the guy out or some such. My memory of the story is over ten years old, so the details are a bit hazy. That said, you can find plenty of similar stories from Vietnam veterans on Snopes.com.

          This obviously wasn’t the protest movement’s finest hour.

        • Oh, I’m sure that some protesters behaved terribly. It’s a big country. I just wasn’t sure if the “spit on in an airport” thing was real.

          Anyway, the larger point here is, regardless of the galling antics of some Americans, the reason we care about the government is because it implements policies that affect people’s lives. It’s not about identifying an Other to oppose, regardless of the merits of policies. I was wrong to think that only silly hippies and far-left liberals (and some past-it realists) opposed invading Iraq– that they had lost faith & lost sight in the good of America, which is what I recall believing at the time. Things can be very good, but lack omnipotence.

          It seems to me that pushing for a cultural focus on the (worst of the) Other who opposed invading Iraq, or being involved in Vietnam, is a way to dodge the larger question of whether the invasion was a good idea.

    • Chris Van Trump says:

      To be honest, I’ve always interpreted flag-burning very negatively, largely because it often IS specifically used by groups to illustrate a hatred of all things American.

      As for the Occupy types, it strikes me as a very poor idea, but one that I’m sadly not all that surprised to see from them. If you’ve got a variety of modes of communication at hand, why pick one that is blatantly disrespectful and inherently inflammatory if you don’t want to elicit a negative response?

      Except that the OWS crowd, from their very beginning, have been less about reaching out to people, and more about castigating anyone that didn’t instantly agree with them, in my experience.

      • I completely agree. If you want someone’s sympathy you shouldn’t piss on their cornflakes. 😉

      • “If you’ve got a variety of modes of communication at hand, why pick one that is blatantly disrespectful and inherently inflammatory if you don’t want to elicit a negative response?”
        It’s the only way they can feel significant. With Occupy you’re dealing with people who feel mediocre, helpless, and desperate to varying degrees, and for the most part they feel they have little to zero control over their lives. Rather than create something to feel important as an individual, they instead prefer to destroy as a group. Cowardly and pathetic if you ask me.

        I wonder – do these Occulosers NOT think this violence is perhaps why no candidates have truly gotten behind them? All they are is an expensive joke.

  5. pino says:

    Burning the American flag is a protected right under the First Amendment. Those who burn it have every legal right to do so.

    But it’s reprehensible. But the idea of making it illegal is more so. This is comparable to some Christian kook wanting to burn the Koran; reprehensible, but not letting him is worse.

    Saying that someone can do something legally is different than representing it’s just a-ok. It’s man law. And everyone knows that.

    It’s a PROTEST OF THE GOVERNMENT, not a statement of hatred of America.

    No. That’s too generous.

    Burning the flag is an especially vile form of protesting your government. It’s a protest that has it’s roots in hate with implications of hate. Consider the vast majority of the population that engages in this particular form of protest. They are often violent, often engaged in activities that are otherwise illegal and almost always associated with the left, albeit the FAR left.

    There’s a certain ‘eff you in burning the flag that goes beyond writing a letter to your editor.

    And Occupy is the embodiment of that population.

    Oakland Occupy Protestors Show Their True Colors

    Expect this to get even worse. I’ve said for a long time the movement is over. Alan and Vern are convincing me that the movement ISN’T over; it’s just that any semblance to mature conversation is over.

    • nickgb says:

      “Saying that someone can do something legally is different than representing it’s just a-ok. It’s man law. And everyone knows that.”

      Ignoring the meaningless man law reference you’re putting in there, you’re still missing the point. There’s three different ideas:
      1) Burning the flag is legal, and is an acceptable thing to do
      2) Burning the flag is legal, but is really insulting
      3) Burning the flag means you hate America.

      Most of us in the rational world fall somewhere between 1 and 2. Sean’s point, inasmuch as he had one, should have simply been “Most Americans are in category 2, so it’s a really stupid thing to do if you’re trying to garner public support.” That’s a point that I mostly agree with. But then Sean jumped right into #3, and that’s silly. Sure, if you hate everything America stands for, you’d burn the flag, like in the streets of lots of countries that don’t like us much. But there’s lots of other people, people who love America but are so frustrated with our policies that they do something this drastic to draw attention to their protest.

      I can’t say for sure that every one of these protesters who has burned a flag loves America. I suspect you’ll find some who say they think America is a big jerk. But that’s certainly not all of them, and probably not most of them. If you can’t see the difference between an American citizen who burns the flag at a protest about economic policies, and a person who burns the flag while yelling “Death to the USA”, then you’re just incapable of having a meaningful discussion on the point.

      “Consider the vast majority of the population that engages in this particular form of protest. They are often violent, often engaged in activities that are otherwise illegal and almost always associated with the left, albeit the FAR left.”

      Citation needed.

      • pino says:

        Most of us in the rational world fall somewhere between 1 and 2.

        I think I can agree to that. And of those folks that are in that “between” state would probably never burn a flag in protest, no matter how angry they were. What I think we’re talking about is that individual who HAS decided to burn that flag. That person more falls into category 3. These are the anarchists, the “destroy capitalism” change the world kinda guys.

        And that is what Occupy largely is.

        By the way, you can not dismiss man-law. 😉 It controls everything in life, everything from how we queue in bathrooms to dictating the rules surrounding how to ask your buddy’s ex-girlfriend out.

      • pino says:

        I can’t say for sure that every one of these protesters who has burned a flag loves America.

        This is a fascinating insight:

        Protester Julion Lewis-Tatman said he led the crowd in the plaza outside City Hall, but did not take part in the flag-burning.

        “I love this country to death, but burning the flag means nothing to me,” he said. “We’re burning down the old system and we’re starting a new country.”

        It sounds like he wants to take cover behind loving the country but then admits that he doesn’t love the country.

    • middleagedhousewife says:

      “Burning the American flag is a protected right under the First Amendment. Those who burn it have every legal right to do so.
      But it’s reprehensible. But the idea of making it illegal is more so.”

      I am in complete agreement with Pino on this. However, I don’t personally know anyone who wouldn’t consider burning an American flag disrespectful. From the outset the participants in the occupy movement have allowed in their midst individuals who chose to engage in inflammatory, disruptive, and disrespectful behaviors. Though the First Amendment protects your right to behave this way, it does not protect you from public opinion. If you are going to protest by doing something as disrespectful as burning the American flag, you should expect that you are going to be perceived as a disrespectful person. If the occupiers had really wanted to have a serious dialog for their grievances, they would have or should have behaved differently.
      By the way, “Mom Law” trumps “Man Law”

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