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Published on Friday, April 28, 2000 in the Madison Capital Times
Flag Burning:
Elian's Case Showcases Hypocrisy
by Dave Zweifel
An old friend, Chris Wren of Madison, sent along a note in the wake of the Elian Gonzalez circus with a few pertinent questions.

"In the wake of newspaper and wire service reports that in the aftermath of the seizure of Elian, residents of Little Havana burned and otherwise destroyed American flags:

"1. Have any congressional sponsors of the constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration condemned these multiple desecrations of the flag?

"2. How many flag desecrations occurred in Little Havana, and how does that number compare with the number committed throughout the United States during the past 10 years? Twenty years? Fifty years? The history of the United States?

"3. If the flag desecration amendment passes, and Congress or any states enact legislation criminalizing flag desecration, will Congress make conviction of flag desecration an offense requiring deportation of legally admitted immigrants or revocation of naturalized citizenship?

"4. Will any of the impending congressional hearings inquire into flag desecrations in Little Havana?''

Chris, of course, succinctly captures the hypocrisy of so much of the congressional Republican leadership in the Elian aftermath. Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, Orrin Hatch and Dan Burton apparently only get excited about flag burning when it is done by long-haird, left-wing hippies.

The Cuban-Americans in Little Havana are mostly rock-ribbed supporters of the GOP. Not one mention about torching Old Glory came from the mouths of Trent and the boys while they condemned and deplored Bill Clinton and Janet Reno.

Those who attended the town of Porter meeting earlier this week on the factory farm that had been proposed near Gibbs Lake came away with a renewed faith in grass-roots democracy.

While the powers that be -- including, shockingly, representatives of state government -- were lined up to secure approval for this antithesis of the family farm, the town residents weren't going to roll over.

They showed up, many spoke eloquently and the town's zoning committee paid heed, unanimously declaring that the town doesn't want a huge corporate farm and all its attendant problems.

Many also left the meeting with a bad taste in their mouths about state bureaucracy. Of all places in America, Wisconsin was built and nurtured by family farmers. To now see its representatives, including the ag department and the Department of Natural Resources, sit idly as if they didn't care about a factory farm in the heart of family farm country disheartened more than a few.

But there are signs that the people have seen enough of wealth and power dictating the future.

Just these past few months they have rebelled against Perrier siphoning off the water supply, the attempt by big utilities to string another power line across northern Wisconsin, a huge chicken farm near La Crosse, and now the factory farm near Evansville.

The politicians, always eager to take corporate campaign handouts, might want to start paying attention.

Dave Zweifel is the editor of The Capital Times.

2000 The Capital Times


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