JOHN WILCOCK: Bob Dylan and the First Published News Photo of a Burning American Flag

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A reminiscence of the Bitter End cafe, followed by a trip to Jim Haynes in Paris. From John Wilcock, New York Years.


Anyone remember the last time (domestic) flagburning was an issue, a real issue, discussed in the same way abortion or marriage equality are discussed today?

It was during Geo H W Bush (41)'s election campaign. He used it against Dukakis to portray Dukakis as “soft” on flagburning. Bush’s mastermind for this strategy, his “Rove,” was good ole Lee Atwater.

Good times.

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I learned to burn the flag from the Boy Scouts of America in the early 1970s. It’s part of the flag code - section 176 subsection k.

But you’re supposed to magically levitate the flag with the sheer power of your patriotism whilst burning it, since it’s not allowed to touch anything beneath it (such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise) and it’s not to be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way. That’s really the tricky part of flag burning, it takes a lot of practice to keep it hovering.


Keep promising this is the last time you will hurt it, that it will never happen again, baby, and chances are you will get its vote. Oh, Humanity.


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