(ANTIMEDIA Op-Ed) As Americans celebrated the 4th of July this week, touting freedom and all the revolutionary efforts they believe went into achieving it, some of the country’s most enthusiastic ‘patriots’ demonstrated their total lack of understanding of the United States’ founding principles.
We're revolutionizing the news industry, but we need your help! Click here to get started.
Late on Tuesday, activist Emily Lance posted a video to Facebook in which she peed on a small American flag, which was submerged in a toilet. While a good many Americans might be offended by this nonviolent action, her video wasn’t the most offensive aspect of the situation.
Rather, it was the response of freedom-loving Americans, who not only expressed disapproval of her decision to reject bowing to a piece of cloth but also began issuing tangible threats of violence.
Lance, who identifies as an anarchist, posted the brief video with the caption “F*** your country. F*** your stupid f****** flag,” and it quickly went viral, garnering hundreds of thousands of views within hours.
Unsurprisingly, it triggered a lot of people who, despite their proud displays of patriotism, haven’t quite figured out that free speech includes people’s right to say and do things others may disagree with.
Facebook swiftly removed the video and, as Lance told Anti-Media, curiously prompted her with ”Can we help?” notification geared toward suicidal users — without explaining why the video was removed. Before it was taken down, however, the Daily Mail captured screen shots of some of the comments.
Some presumed to know her political affiliations, accusing her of being a liberal and a victim of “cultural Marxism.” Neither is the case. She is an anarchist.
Other went beyond superficial assumptions, outright wishing murder and rape on her. According to one commenter, a bounty was placed on her head via Craigslist offering $3,000 to kill her. She later posted that some “patriots” were so offended by her stunt that they located her family and threatened her father and his place of work. Ironically, she says, her family loves their country and the flag and they do not share her opinions, making the “patriotic” reactions even more absurd.
As she posted online:
“People are wishing illness, harm, and suffering upon me over a piece of fabric. People are willing to MURDER someone over a flag. It’s so sad that people don’t realize how brainwashed they are. I’m gross for peeing on a symbol? LOOK AT YOURSELVES. You people epitomize all that is foul.”
Lance also said:
“What don’t you people understand? You’re celebrating freedom while damning me for doing the same. You can’t have it both ways.”
She blames the reaction on idolatry — the worship of idols. This is hardly the first time this mentality has reared its head in the United States. When the film American Sniper came out, triggering rampant patriotism, some journalists pressed back against the hysteria only to receive rape and death threats for questioning American “hero” Chris Kyle, the soldier the film dramatized.
It is because of these violent reactions, in part, that Lance advocates anarchism. As she told Anti-Media:
“(Most) anarchists are peaceful humans who wouldn’t ever harm another person over a mere belief or opinion – because they cherish true freedom. I believe violence is only warranted as a means of self-defense. No people were injured in the making of this video. Words and opinions aren’t weapons.”
Still, though she expected somewhat of a backlash, she says she didn’t expect the video to reach as many people as it did and that if she were to do it again, she would take more time to explain the reasoning behind her ‘desecration’ of the flag.
“I’d do it again but I would plan it out properly and thoroughly explain my position rather than simply being a smart ass. The important messages got lost in the mix – and with as much attention as it got, a lot more eyes could have been opened. My antics weren’t productive, but they could have been had I been more thoughtful.”
Nevertheless, the violent reactions people displayed toward her served a powerful purpose: they revealed the extent to which nationalism and statism, the belief in government, can affect people’s emotions and drive them to advocate — or even commit — violence.
Lance told us her goal in making the video was to “display hypocrisy and the dangers of statism,” and it appears her fellow Americans proved her point for her.
As journalist and former military contractor Justin King observed:
“Emily Lance displayed more of what it means to be an American by urinating on the flag than most do by waving it. To those who are threatening her, I’d remind you that you cannot support the flag and undermine the freedoms it is supposed to represent. Many are saying, “if you don’t like the flag, get out.” I say, ‘if you don’t like the First Amendment, get out.’ You have a choice. Do you support a piece of cloth, or do you support the ideas it is meant to symbolize?”