Is the flag really the issue?

twoflags.jpg A good friend of mine had a short essay he wrote on the mainstream reaction to la Gran Marcha published on Latino LA. I’m all for debate, but a lot of what I’ve seen written about la Gran Marcha doesn’t tell us much about the perspective of Chicanas/os and Latinas/os (aside from a few quotes and an article or two by Gustavo Arellano).

Ollinkoatl takes on the flag issue and more of what it represents.

While I understand the use of the Stars and Stripes as a precautionary measure to calm the xenophobic tendencies of Anglos, especially in the wake of a 500,000 march of Latinos that filled the megatropolis core of Los Angeles, has it come to this point in the political tactics of Latinos that we must receive approval from Anglos for everything?

Not only that we are humans and deserve rights, as in the case of contesting HR 4437, but we must even seek approval from them for the manner in which we demonstrate our anger at their vindictive immigration policies… such as what type of shirts we wear and what we can or can’t wave at a march? Why not be more precautious and also hold a march in which we only speak English, as we get rid of the flags of Latin-American? Better yet… how about all the dark-skinned Latinos stay home during that march so that they see many of “us” look just like them?

In fact, Americans, widely known for their “linguistic tolerance” do not understand Latino protest language. Within the Latino community we understand the use of flags is to demonstrate the representation of protesters by national origin.

Read the full article here.

(Photo by Haj20.)

19 thoughts on “Is the flag really the issue?”

  1. To many Latinos, their flag doesn’t necessarily represent their nation, it represents their culture. When a Mexican immigrant waves a Mexican flag, he is not waving it in support of the Mexican military, or the president and the ruling political party. He/She waves it as a symbol of our culture: language, food, art, music, customs, etc. When the American flag is usually waved at pro-military rallies and anti-immigrant rallies what does it represent then? Support for the military, support for an immoral war, support for a deceitful president. What culture does the American flag represent? A consumer culture? A military culture? The indignant outcries heard from conservative, xenophobic America smacks of a deep-rooted racial intolerance.

  2. It’s not about approval. It’s about smart, tactical forms of social protest. We cannot allow ourselves to be used by the radical right as “examples” of the “angry”, “pro-illegal-immigrant”, “soft-on-national security”, left. This article, and the post above is a sad example of how our latino brothers and sisters still dont get it.


    When the US flag is turned upside down and the Mexican flag is placed above it on a flagpole — what does that signify? Is that considered “Latino protest language”? Is that a celebration of Latino culture?

    And the blatant disregard for US laws exhibited when someone enters the country illegally and takes a job from a law-abiding, taxpaying American — is that a celebration of Latino culture?

    And before you scream racism, which you will do, keep in mind that we (the US) have a legal framework for people to come into this country. Folks who follow those rules are to be welcomed and applauded. Those who don’t (no matter what nationality) should be expelled and the employers that facilitate this lawbreaking should be unmercifully fined.

    And Carlos, since you have such disdain for what you call our “consumer culture” and our “military culture” and you despise what you refer to as our “xenophobia”, then perhaps it will be easier for you to go back from whence you came. You’re obviously not happy here.

    And, Dannyjay, if you think that the 70% of the country who oppose illegal immigration and oppose amnesty in any form are all part of the “radical right”, then I have a bridge in Guadalajara to sell to you.

    One suggestion: If you guys can turn out 500,000 in a US city to assert your “rights”, you should be able to turn out 10 times that many in protests within Mexico and force change in your own homeland. You should start there. Fix your own country instead of protesting while we try to fix ours.

  4. I don’t believe for one second that the Mexican flag is a symbol of “Latino” struggle. I worked with several immigrants from Latin America, including Cubans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Ecuadorians, Brazilians and Argentines. Not one of them would be caught dead waving a Mexican flag.

    I also don’t appreciate the insinuation that American flags were deployed at the Saturday march to calm “Anglo” anxieties. Blacks and Asians were just as upset at the rampant Mexican flag waving as white people. And if Ollinkoatl took a closer look at the photos and video footage of that day, he would see that not all of the 500,000 marchers were Latinos, as he claims.

    Latinos have the right and a duty to themselves to make their voices heard, but waving Mexican flags and shouting “¬°Viva M√©xico!” is no way to foment understanding for their cause with Americans at large.

  5. waaa, waaaa, go back where you came from, waaaa, waaa!

    …..the tired mantra of the american xenophobe. Love it or leave it, anorther “handy” phrase. Whats next Jake, “Work will set you free?”…sounds familiar? FACT, the US would CRUMBLE w/o the slave labor class america has gotten used to. Who would work in the fields, white kids? LOL, please. Modern consumer america revels in laziness and elitism. Jake, before you go to your klan rally tonight, why dont you get your brothers and sisters to protest the illegal war that bush and co have gotten you into. Or, since hes a “good christian”, does it make it A OK to bomb those icky Iraquis?
    And yes, you ARE a racist. BTW, im first gneration AMERICAN, I have a nice blue passport just like you, pay taxes, educated and here to fight this bullshit american consumer system. Count on it.

  6. jake, do you know anything about what the corporatist “free-trade” agreements have done to latin america? what happened to the argentinian and brazilian economies? why so many revolutionary leftist governments have sprung up in south america? do you think it has anything to do with corporate-american interests? according to these “free-trade” agreements, it is ok for a corporation to enter a latin american country and exploit it’s natural resources and labor-force, but it isn’t ok for a latin american to come to america to work? that’s “free-trade”? see the immigration issue is more complex than what your racist little eyes see. it’s about more than a bunch of mexicans (see because all latinos are mexican, right) acting unruly and waving their flag in your beloved country. and it’s going to take more than your “love it, or leave it” sentiments to change anythig. put down your starbucks latte and read beyond the USA Today, the Daily News, LA Times. Turn off your TV. And find out what is happening in the world. That’s right the world is bigger than the US. By the way, I too am a legal, taxpaying, citizen, whose allegiance is to human dignity.

  7. Jake, you mean follow the migration laws the europeans did when they were “invited” to the new world? If I recall, the natives adopted their own policy of anti immigration, tried to keep the land from being stolen from them. Remember that? Is that the kinda laws you are refering to? Did the europens come through the proper channels? Mull on that before you scream about illegal workers.

  8. he he he…the fact that Jake links to a Michelle Malkin post speaks volumes. MICHELLE MALKIN!! This is the woman who claims that it was OK for the US to place Japanese-Americans in camps during WWII! Watch out for that cool-aid Jake.

  9. dannyjay, i can’t let you off the hook. we cannot and should not frame our protests and dissent by what the opposition thinks is appropriate. the radical right is going to be outraged by any form of dissent, by any idealogy that does not toe the party line. should we check with people like jake to see if there jingoist, faux-patrotism will be offended everytime we take to the streets to speak our mind? should we refrain then, from satirizing our bush and his cabal in posters and banners because the right will be offended. the right-wingers aren’t going to be appeased until we all put our hands in our pockets, look the other way and go about on our merry little lives.

  10. Jake, you mean follow the migration laws the europeans did when they were “invited” to the new world? If I recall, the natives adopted their own policy of anti immigration, tried to keep the land from being stolen from them. Remember that? Is that the kinda laws you are refering to? Did the europens come through the proper channels? Mull on that before you scream about illegal workers.

  11. Carlos- Again, you’re missing the point. It’s not about catering to the right, or seeking approval. It’s about finding effective and tactical forms of protest. We cannot allow ourselves to be used as ammunition. If we do, we are only hurting ourselves. We cannot allow ourselves to be marginalized. I’m in no way advocating a watered-down form of protest, but rather one that tactically works within the system and produces the most results. Reactionary forms of protest will only hurt our cause, not advance it.

  12. Exactly what kind of tactical form of protest that works within the system? Peaceful protests, civil disobedience are often the only way to bring about change. The civil rights movement ended the Jim Crowe era and institutionalized segregation through direct-action, sit-ins, and all forms of civil-disobedience not by relying on politicians or the polictical body (ie. voting.) They forced the powers that be to sit up and take notice and to change policy. Before that the Womans’ Suffragist Movement sought and acheived the right to vote, not through the political mechanism, but through direct-action, protest, civil disobedience. Gandhi did not overthrow the British Empire by being part of the English government, he accomplished it with civil-disobedience, often in the face of brutal repraisals. Granted direct-action/civil disobedience shouldn’t be the only prong in the attack, but it is often the most important and most accesible to the public.

  13. Good point Carlos! I was at the rallies last sat and it was peaceful. Now if these people decided to protest ecnomonically, they would bring the country to a screeching halt. What better way to be heard in this country where the dollar is king? They could bring this country to its knees w/o violence or bullets. Of course, then they might be deemed ” terrorists” by the govt, which they oh so love to do these days. The fight is far from over…..

  14. Absolutely, Mr. Bolivar. Hit them were it hurts. I truely believe that these types of actions are the only weapons that the public has. It’s interesting to note that there has been such a backlash against the pro-immigrant rallies, but very little against the vigilantism of the Minutemen, who ride around the border areas with guns and rifles! but peaceful demonstrators who have the gall to wave a foreign flag on this sacred soil. who do they think they are demanding rights! the fight is far from over.

  15. simon says:
    FACT, the US would CRUMBLE w/o the slave labor class america has gotten used to.

    jake says:
    FICTION. How do you think that work was done before the US was invaded and occupied by illegal immigrants? Did a house never get built before the recent explosion of lawbreakers? Did we never find a way to get produce to market? Your argument is nonsensical and flat out wrong.

    simon says:
    Did the europens (sic) come through the proper channels?

    I’m sure some did and some didn’t. If they broke the law, then they should’ve been sent back. PERIOD. However, I didn’t break the law. My parents didn’t break the law. We are here legally. Some of you said that you are citizens. If so, I AM NOT talking about you. If you followed the law to gain citizenship or if you were born here, good for you. I’m talking about ILLEGAL immigrants. I already said that. You have comprehension or honesty or issues when you fail to read what I say or attempt to misrepresent my position. Oh, and you did call me a racist, simon – you’re unsurprisingly predictable.

    carlos says:
    jake, do you know anything about what the corporatist “free-trade” agreements have done to latin america?

    jake says:
    You’d better believe I know about those contemptible trade agreements. From your blinded, sheltered viewpoint, they are one-sided in the US’ favor. From my viewpoint, that’s a load of crap. My father, a mechanic, had never been laid off and then got laid off five times in seven years after the passage of NAFTA because his employers kept moving to latin countries. Eventually, he had to retrain and still couldn’t make what he was making before the “WONDERFUL” trade agreements were rammed down our throats. So you’ll excuse me if I can’t muster much sadness for folks in other countries who feel slighted by NAFTA or other trade agreements.

    Listen, I know I won’t change your minds and I can promise you won’t change mine if you want to excuse illegal behavior and continue to encourage illegal immigration. I am just sick to death of politicians who openly encourage lawbreakers for their own selfish interests. And you can be rest assured that they are getting an earful from me as well.

    In summary:

    I hope that’s simple enough for everyone to understand (but I doubt it).


    FYI – That picture of the Mexican flag flying above the upside-down US flag was just shown by a senator while he was speaking on the Senate floor. I hope these protesters keep on showing their blatant contempt for the US. They are the best advertisement we can have for tightening down and enforcing our laws. They make the case better than I ever could.

  16. jake, jake. you made a great point. your father lost his lively-hood because of greedy corporate agenda. that is who you should be targeting with your jingoism. corporate america and their lackey politicians because they don’t give a shit about you, white america, illegal immigrants, aliens invading the planet, as long as they can make a buck. they are at fault for the declining standard of living in this country, not immigrants, illegal or otherwise.
    latin-american immigrants legal and illegal have been picking-fruit, working construction for low-wages, for much longer than your narrow vision allows you to see. there has been an increase in so-called “illegal” immigration recently, exactly because of US foreign policy. the path ways to “legal” immigration has been curtailed greatly by government policy to appease xenophobes like yourself, who only see the world through the prism of white america. by th way, this land was already inhabited long before you and your parents came here “legally.”

  17. carlos,

    I don’t like corporate America. They are a BIG part of the problem. Nor do I appreciate the do-nothing Mexican government that encourages migration of its poorest citizens out of its country. Nor do I like at all the two-faced politicians who make laws (or fail to enforce laws) that are favored by the overwhelming majority of their constituents. And this include Democrats and Republicans. Both of them are worthless and dishonest.

    I’m for me and the 200+ million others in the country who follow the rules.

    So there is plenty of blame to go around, but that includes the illegals’ invasion and occupation. To use an analogy, there are plenty of reasons that drugs are a problem — growers, importers/smugglers, do-nothing politicians, and the street-level dealer who claims to have been forced into this lifestyle because of poverty. So do we not hold the dealer accountable just because he was trying to make a living? Of course we do. He broke the law. He is one peg in a larger puzzle, but he must be held accountable. Likewise, the illegal immigrant must be held accountable. Your failure to acknowledge this is disingenuous and hypocritical and only shows your true colors.

    And one more thing. It’s so sad that you can’t see that YOU are the racist with your “white America” comments. Your respect for “human dignity” only goes as far as protecting your “culture” and the “revolutionary leftist governments” about which you speak so lovingly.

  18. jake what are you doing to fight corporate america? are you using your spending power to make a statement? are you boycotting certain companies because you don’t agree with their business practices? are you going online to blog passionately about it? about your analogy. are you equating “illegal” immigrants to drug dealers? i don’t quite get it. everything is part of a larger puzzle. the question is do you attack the small easily targeted small piece or do you attack the larger more important piece. the piece that makes up a larger part of the puzzle.

    i’m a racist because i mention white america? do you know what white privelege is? of course not. listen, my respect for human dignity includes basic human rights to food, home, employment, healthcare, education, regardless if it’s for a white, asian, black, homosexual, transexual, mexican, peruvian, russian, etc. those basic human rights should supercede any corporate interest that interferes with those rights. the fact that so many americans are ready and willing to put of barriers and take up arms to defend themselves against some percieved, as you put it, invasion and occupation, indicates that the empire is on shaky ground (invasion and occupation? sounds kinda paranoid to me.)

    as you mentioned before i will not change your mind. peace.

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