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April 26, 2006

What, No Apple Pie?


Am I overthinking this?

Today, Michelle Malkin posted this image on her website followed by the simple phrase:  “Does this image bring back memories?”  She then noted how, thirty years to the day, outfielder Rick Monday secured his place in baseball history by snatched away this flag “in order to prevent the punks from burning it.”

The WAPO article Malkin linked to is a commemorative piece.  The write-up provides ample background about Monday (who is described as performing “his own Patriot Act”), but provides little context regarding the incident itself.  More background is provided by Captain’s Quarters, however.  In the fourth inning of a game between the Dodgers and the Cubs in L.A., two guys ran onto the field and attempted to set fire to the American flag.  It was at this point Monday interceded.

According to The Captain, this event — which took place a year after the end of the Vietnam War — preceded America’s high profile Bicentennial celebration by just a few months.  CQ continues:

With the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence coming up, the country had started a celebration of the event that overloaded on red, white, and blue. The nation tried to put on a coat of faux patriotism it didn’t really feel, and the entire effort felt commercialized and hypocritical. With Independence Day two months away, many already had had enough of the celebration.

Sure, this image is a symbol of pride, especially for conservative bloggers (who have had little else to cheer for lately).  Also, it more than qualifies as an anniversary moment.  However, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a larger (and more surreptitious) agenda involved, as well.

With anti-war sentiment in the country growing by the day, could the praise of this image represent still one more way for wingnuts to equate discontent over American foreign policy with a lack of patriotism?

Or am I’m just reaching?

(image; James Roark/Los Angeles Herald Examiner/A.P. Los Angeles.  April 25, 1976.  Via Morris County New Jersey

  • johnsnakecusak

    Expect to see a lot more of this as the ship of state floats along more and more aimlessly on a sea of protests. You’re right on with your interpretation.
    We are definitely being reminded of the heroism involved with defending mom, apple pie and the flag.
    Oh yes, and the President & Rummie. I read a headline somewhere that claimed that criticism of Rumsfeld was driving up the price of gas. So help me.

  • Marysz

    Conservatives must be pretty hard up if they have to go back thirty years to find something to feel good about. I wonder if a black and white photograph like this one will have any real impact. Younger people, raised on color TV, tend to tune out a lot of grayscale images; a college student once said to me, “When I see those black and white pictures where there’s no color, they just look like, you know . . . really, really, old.”
    But it’s the angry, right-wing elderly the Republicans want to reach in the November midterms and this photo might help. Or it could be that all those senior citizens will be so busy trying to figure out their Medicare Prescription Drug coverage that they never make it to the polls.

  • pj

    I remember the event. And I also remember marching (as a veteran) in anti-war demonstrations during that period, just as I stand on street corners today — with a flag — in protest against the Iraq war. For me, the most significant moment in the anti-Viet Nam war came during one of the Washington marches when I noticed that our scruffy band of veterans had been joined by a young couple, well-dressed, pushing a baby stroller. That was when two things hit me: 1/ The comfortable, respectable segment of the population not only opposed the war, but was willing to take an active part in the campaign. 2/ That couple — because they were so clean-cut and calm — probably had more impact on the media and on the White House than any dozen of the rest of us.
    Back to the outfield picture. The two guys trying to burn the flag — I have no idea who they were — were doing the anti-war movement enormous harm. From my experience with some of the other wild-eyed types of that generation, I suspect they were ego nut-cases for whom the publicity, or the chance to brag back in the dorm, were much more significant the the loss of life in Southeast Asia.
    So in answer to your question, no, I think you are not reaching. The image IS “a symbol of pride, especially for conservative bloggers (who have had little else to cheer for lately).” It is equally “one more way for wingnuts to equate discontent over American foreign policy with a lack of patriotism.”
    Because what is most striking about that picture, in my eyes, is what’s on the right side of the frame: two guys who, whether they are or not, genuinely look like punks. It is the force of their negative image, even more than the positive image of Monday and the flag, which makes the conservative point.
    Just as it was 35 years ago, people like Murtha, not the idiots on the leftish fringe (or anyplace else), bring the country to its senses. The sane and orderly, I’m persuaded, come into the fray not to join the wing-nuts, but to rescue the movement from the wing-nut impact. You might argue, I suppose, that the wingnuts have thereby served their purpose. I don’t think so. I’m reminded of a man I used to work with whose infant daughter took sick one day. We urged him to take her to the doctor. But he waited a couple days, then, when the child was quite ill, he took her to the Emergency Room — because, in the circumstances of the time, an ER visit was much cheaper than an office call to a pediatrician. (This, be it noted, was not a poor man. He was, in fact, the boss.)
    Making things worse in order to make them better is not a good idea.

  • lib4

    They are obviously reaching…..ohhh some baseball player took the flag from two punks who were trying to burn it thirty years ago……wow ….ohhhh…ahhhh
    Whats next…are they going to celebrate the infamous burning of “Disco Demolition Night” at Comisky Park in Chicago in 1979
    …because we all know that disco music was made for gay people and any destruction of the gay agenda makes most conservatives happy !!???!!!??
    The flag burning thing would be funny if it wasnt such a pathetic attempt to grasp some sort of victory (albeit 30 years ago)
    in the light of the current conservative agenda that has miserably failed on so many levels ……………….

  • johnsnakecusak

    PJ, your paragraph about the clean-cut couple taking part in the demonstration, made me think back to the same era.
    I was a protestor back in the days, and the thing that first told me that we had won, was this same kind of epiphonic moment.
    My dad was the County Chairman of the Republican Party and owned a business in our little town. He was very cautious about bucking the wave of public sentiment. But one day the Chicago Tribune sent reporters to the little town to get the “small town view” about the Vietnam War.
    When we read his words in the paper we could hardly believe that this stauch Republican Conservative had completely torn apart the War, and the Nixon administration, for not keeping their promise to end the war.
    He was the only person from our community who took this stand. He took a lot of flak from his Republican friends, and lost some customers over it, but within a short time the withdrawal plan began.
    I knew that the war would end though, when I realized that it was people like him who had to speak out, and he thought it was time, and did it.

  • readytoblowagasket

    “There is no sense and no sanity in objecting to the desecration of the American flag when we tolerate, encourage, and as a daily business promote the desecration of the Country for which it stands.”
    — Wendell Berry

  • Liv

    There’s a real bullring sense of drama here. I don’t remember the original moment, but I do remember the times, and they were indeed pretty phony.
    “Punks” still held the old connotation of “uncool, disrespectful losers” rather than the current “cool, disrespectful losers”. Real punks were gobbing on each other and mutilating themselves in an expression of self loathing that somehow seemed the appropriate reaction to phoniness.
    I like that while the punk with the match hasn’t noticed that the flag is gone yet, the other one seems to be laughing- the prank turned out better than expected!

  • black dog barking

    If Ms Malkin is having a ragegasm over this photo she’s faking it. I’m old enough to remember and I really don’t, even after seeing the photo.
    Sunday, April 25, 1976: Vietnam was over. President Ford had pardoned his predecessor the landslide winner of the 1972 Presidential election. A peanut farmer from Georgia was emerging as his opponent in the fall elections. I have no clue what these so-called protestors were protesting.
    My first thought looking at the picture and reading the caption was where was this game played? Not Wrigley, no vines. Can’t be LA, it’s a day game.

  • Liv

    Oh- and how the uniform sort of looks like some kind of superhero outfit? Back when ball players could represent purity and rightness. Before, uh, player’s strikes and steroids.
    And will the dweeb in the stands throw his drink on the punks? Responding to a symbolic act with personal violence (provided he’s safely out of reach in the stands).

  • readytoblowagasket

    Wait. Michelle Malkin, born October 20, 1970, certainly doesn’t remember this event. She’s such a horse’s ass and a poseur.

  • Jim

    This was a minor incident. People have been making way more of it than it ever was for a generation and a half by now. It’s as though people who had reason to played it over and over again in their minds.
    Somewhere, somehow, did some idiot actually spit at a veteran? I suppose it might have happened, but nowhere I knew about, and nobody I knew felt that way about the vets coming home. Seeing the VVAW guys walking around made me really pro-vet, but the spitting thing has got to be urban legend.
    But it is Dodger Stadium. The wall has changed since then.

  • futurebird

    This image really resonates with me– It makes me angry. I grew up listening to my dad complain about kids mostly rich and white who’d give progressive causes a bad name by doing this kind of thing. It makes it seem like our very reasonable desire for equal rights is actually asking for total chaos. It’s also really disrespectful to those who died in any war. Even the wars we should not have fought.
    There was a girl at a protest I attended once with a flag stitched upside down on her jeans. We talked her out of doing that. Why it’s that very progressive sprit that makes me want to wave a flag. It’s my flag too.
    Seeing those immigrants and their supporters come over the Brooklyn bridge a week ago with so many US flag made me so proud of this country.
    I’m with the conservatives when it comes to this photo. Those kids are punks and not even the context of flag hyping makes their action excusable. As liberals we can’t side with kid of behavior– even when we recognize that people have a right to express such ideas we can still condem them. Like the ACLU and the Klan thing. these kids are only expressing hate– in my mind they are in the same group as other hate mongers and I pity them.
    Come on. If you hate America why bother to make it a better place?
    Why do we let conservatives monopolize our national identity? I just don’t get it.
    PS. I’m one of “those young people who aren’t interested in black and white photos”

  • Cactus

    This DID happen at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. I live about a mile from there and I don’t remember it at all. May have been confined to the sports news. Apparently whoever those guys were, they are lost to history. But I think probably pj was right that they were some smart alecky frat boys out for their 15 minutes. I do remember that all the bi-centennial build-up with its hoopla and commercialism was verging on the gross. It was so commercialized and hyped that most people just avoided the whole topic. After all the Viet Nam and Watergate tragedies, it was hard for most people I knew not to be cynical about the whole thing. I suspect these guys were just a marginal reflection of that attitude.
    As for Malkin, words fail. She’s just a nasty mouthpiece for the right and gets away with what they wish they could say. Is the ‘flag amendment’ up for vote again???

  • TF-MA

    I’m surprised Frau Malkin didn’t post the other famous flag photo from the 70’s that her crowd prizes. It’s the photo where African American educator Ted Landsmark about to be speared with old Glory by some proud antibusing cracker at Boston’s Government Center in 1976.
    That pix must be in the freeper password protected site.

  • Mark Spittle

    What many people do not know is that after getting the flag, Rick Monday took it into the pitcher’s mound and shit on it.
    It’s true, look it up.

  • mdhatter

    Our protesters march with flags, not burn them
    We hug veterans, and thank them, no spitting.
    Our protesters have almost no idea who Jane Fonda was (exercise videos, right?), unlike Michelle’s base, which is still fighting a 35 year old battle, and still losing it.

  • okokokalready

    That was my era. I am afraid he didn’t secure anything. I have no clue who he is [unlike Ralph Kiner who is my 2nd cousin]. I have no memory of this at all.
    So much for securing your place in history. The other half just said “Who?”

  • Chris

    Personally I can identify with an upside down American Flag much more than one that’s “right side up”, especially if it’s flying on both sides of an SUV like those old pictures of Nazi staff cars.
    The upside down flag is a distress call and this nation is in a bad way. The American Indian Movement also adopted the symbol of the inverted flag and I have more respect for that movement than anyone working for the current administration, the Republican Party and nearly everyone in the Democratic loyal opposition.
    A burning flag doesn’t particularly resonate with me but if it gets the Status Quo boosters to froth at the mouth then it’s obviously an effective method of agitation. Ignoring it would be the easiest way to disempower the act.
    Trying to equate disrespect for the flag with hating America is a leap though.

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