Huffington Post: Symbols Matter, But Lives Matter More: Lesson One From the Middle East Uproar
Truman Fellow Mark Levine in the Huffington Post
As I watch American flags burn across the Middle East, I am struck by how little emotion it engenders in me, particularly as I compare my reaction to my horror at the murder of our heroes at the Libyan consulate. Don’t get me wrong. My heart still swells at the sight of the Stars and Stripes, particularly after I’ve been out of the country for any length of time. Like most Americans, I sing the Star Spangled Banner loudly, proudly and off-key (though I try my best). I do find the burning of our national symbol disgusting. But I look on the conflagration of our flag as more juvenile and sad than an attack on my patriotic heart and soul. More troubling for what it portends than what it actually is.
I suspect many Americans feel as I do, which is why our newspapers and television media breezily brandish the burning of Old Glory, while extremely few would dare to show us the corpses of the four brave Americans who died last week in the line of duty. Burning people, rather than burning flags, is what justifiably angers and horrifies us. In fact, even putting “burning flags” and “burning people” in the same sentence seems offensive.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Truman National Security Project or Educational Institute.