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The Christian Science Monitor Los Angeles Times Syndicate JEFF DANZIGER Supreme Court Decision on Flag Desecration Has Democrats All Shook Up MAVERICK: SAVE THE BILL OF RIGHTS Pg. 10 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES AUGUST 4, 1989 $1.50 Flag Burning in Texas BY DAVE DENISON IREMEMBER the Republican National Convention of 1984 as a sort of festival of extremes. It took place in Dallas in the middle of August and the temperature on the sidewalks seemed to be holding constant at 104 degrees. But the huge convention center where Ronald Reagan was renominated for President was piped full of refrigerated air. Outside the arena, in the scorching sun, a ragtag collection of protestors held an anti-convention, denouncing Reaganism from top to bottom. Inside, Republican delegates celebrated the President’s salvation of the country from Democratic ruin. The protestors were not, for the most part, a polite assembly. On one afternoon, Dallas police spent a few hours rounding up and arresting, one by one, a group of Yippie-style demonstrators who had marched through downtown Dallas on a “War Chest Tour.” I have in my notes a quote from a young radical who was being dragged off to the tank. Looking up at a black police officer, he fumed, “If you weren’t in that fuckin’ costume you’d be arrested too because you’re black.” Inside the arena, there was a soothing semblance of civility. These delegates were Good Americans, as they’d be the first to tell you. I talked with several of them. They said things like, “It is the duty of the President of the United States to protect his country. And if he deems it necessary to nuke somebody, then that is his responsibility. It is not necessarily ours to judge or speculate on.” Outside, protestors staged a “die-in” to protest the threat of nuclear war. Many who were venting their anger were easily pegged as part of the left-wing fringe. But the Republicans had their fringe, too. A group of Young Americans for Freedom carried a banner that said, “Thou Cometh with Mondale, Jackson and Ferraro but We in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Vote Reagan.” For the most part, the conventioneers and the protestors were hardly aware of each other. For the reporter with proper credentials the event afforded the opportunity for a sort of journalistic astro-travel between two separate worlds. But there was one moment when the two worlds briefly came together. It was when a demonstrator named Gregory Johnson took an American flag that had been pirated on the War Chest Tour, stood on the steps of City Hall; doused the flag in kerosene and set it on fire. Johnson and his running buddies were yelling “America, the red, white and blue, we spit on you,” and other high-minded thoughts. I arrived as this distasteful protest was underway. There were not many people watching, other than journalists. The burning of the flag, as I recall, was not what impressed me. What I remember most clearly is the way a bystander made his way to the scene after the immolation and gathered up the charred flag. He turned first Continued on page 6