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January 30, 2012

Big Media: “Terrorist” Occupy Movement Sets Fire to America!

Occupy Oakland fringe element burning flag

The photo almost everybody saw.

(photo: Beck Diefenbach/AP caption: Occupy Oakland protestors burn an American flag found inside Oakland City Hall during an Occupy Oakland protest on the steps of City Hall, Saturday, January 28, 2012, in Oakland, Calif.)

Don t Burn Flag Oakland Occupy

The photo almost nobody saw.

(photo: Beck Diefenbach/AP caption: A woman pleads with Occupy Oakland protestors to not burn an American flag found inside Oakland City Hall during an Occupy Oakland protest, Saturday, January 28, 2012, in Oakland, Calif. Police were in the process of arresting about 100 Occupy protesters for failing to disperse Saturday night, hours after officers used tear gas on a rowdy group of demonstrators who threw rocks and flares at them and tore down fences.)

What happens when your typical, mainstream news consumer hears little description of how Oakland PD, in violation of its own operating procedures (while under threat of a federal takeover because of excessive force), enters into a war of abandon with an overwhelmingly peaceful movement — not to mention, the independent media, as well? And then, what happens on-top-of-that when, de-emphasizing even the angry mayor’s distinction that a “radical, violent splinter-group” chose to attack City Hall, you get a culturally incendiary and profoundly prejudicial photo like this leading off national stories far-and-wide showing one of the bad boys holding up a little Occupy sign while headlines allude to — and the captions identify them as — regular Occupiers? I guess it’s hard to conclude anything other than the fact that the movement — in an act that makes no sense — must have decided to torch itself.

Here’s just a subset from a larger sample of photo leads from the events of the weekend:

Newsday Occupy Oakland Flag Burning

Chron Occupy Oakland Flag Burning

Boston com Occupy Oakland Flag Burning

CSM Occupy Oakland Flag Burning

MSN Occupy Oakland Flag Burning

Star Telegram Occupy Oakland Flag Burning

…I think you get the picture.

(photos: Beck Diefenbach/AP caption 1 via Mercury News photo gallery: Occupy Oakland protestors burn an American flag found inside Oakland City Hall during an Occupy Oakland protest on the steps of City Hall, Saturday, January 28, 2012, in Oakland, Calif.caption 2: A woman pleads with Occupy Oakland protestors to not burn an American flag found inside Oakland City Hall during an Occupy Oakland protest, Saturday, January 28, 2012, in Oakland, Calif. Police were in the process of arresting about 100 Occupy protesters for failing to disperse Saturday night, hours after officers used tear gas on a rowdy group of demonstrators who threw rocks and flares at them and tore down fences.)

Flag photos via: Mercury News photo gallery.

  • jonst

    curious that not only did Drudge NOT lead with the picture (so far, anyway) it was not to be seen on his opening page or even in the story about the protest yesterday. Wonder why? Not a ‘hint, hint’ I have an answer comment. I’m at a loss to explain it. But it is curious to me.

  • Amir Goy

    Gee whiz. The next thing you know OWS will simply be lumped together with all those filthy Mooslum terrists….
    Just what the doctor ordered! Some well placed agent provocateurs and presto!

  • Amir Goy

    Gee whiz. The next thing you know OWS will simply be lumped together with all those filthy Mooslum terrists….
    Just what the doctor ordered! Some well placed agent provocateurs and presto!

  • bks

    Fire is almost a living thing, is it not?  It’s very photogenic.

        –bks

  • T Perky

     Thanks, morons, for helping the anti-OWS forces. With one photo-op, they erased any advances they’d made earlier.

  • http://www.mscottbrauer.com/ M. Scott Brauer

    Here’s a forum where members of Occupy are discussing the photo: 
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002239093  The person who posted it wrote, “An AP photographer named Beck Diefenbach has probably just ended the Occupy movement.”

    • Karen H

      thanks for the link, Scott…..Interesting….first the photographer is blamed and then a link to his site is provided with a plea not to blame him.

  • LanceThruster

    While I do not object to the message of rage towards the actions of our government burning a flag represents, it would have been far more savvy to hang it upside down (the official protocol for indicating distress and in need of help).

    see: http://www.jeffhead.com/liberty/flagdistress.htm

    (a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down,
    except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or
    property.

    This is NOT hyperbole. The pillaging and destruction of the economy in plain view threatens the health and well-being of us all. 

  • Anonymous

    Big deal.  Oakland has been full of crazies for decades.  They come for the lenient political climate around Berkeley and San Francisco and to escape the harsh winter in the rest of the country.  Some of them have legitimate causes but others are just there for the thrill of being outlaws.  Note the bandannas some of them are wearing to hide their faces – it’s like robbing a stage coach.

    Pictures like this reflect the downside of OWS’ lack of formal leadership.  Anybody can join OWS and participate in activities, whether planned or not.  And once they’re out there in front of the cameras, their behavior is interpreted as that of the movement itself.  There’s no way to prevent the crazies from participating . . . even if we were to agree that flag-burning is “crazy.”:  The British respect the Union Jack but they don’t revere it.  To them, it’s just a piece of cloth.

  • http://www.dregstudios.com Brandt Hardin

    The Occupy Movement is NECESSARY for our citizens to expose
    the corruption which Big Business has infected our Government with.  Every single person occupying the streets and
    protesting Corporations is a hero and a patriot.  I was compelled to lend a hand and create
    some new posters for the movement which you can download for free on my
    artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/11/propaganda-for-occupy-movement.html

  • Frustrated

    Hi Mr. Shaw,

    I have to say, having been a reader of your website, blog, whatever this is for some time, I’m disappointed.  You consistently leave me at a loss for words; your writing, more than anything, offers very little profound insight, instead hiding behind your title of “clinical psychologist”.  Instead of actually “reading pictures” – as any art or journalism student is actually, systematically taught to do – you use pictures as platforms to hurl insults at the mass media.  

    With that said, I must ask in regards to this specific instance: what about Mr. Diefenbach’s picture is “culturally incendiary and profoundly prejudicial”?  I suppose – after making a considerable mental leap – that I can see how perhaps this picture is “prejudicial” – and no, not profoundly so – but culturally incendiary?  What?  And Mr. Diefenbach?  Are we to believe from your assessment that he is, inherently, an incendiary and prejudicial human being?

    I think my question, after reading your ridiculous blurb, is what would you have done differently in Diefenbach’s position?  Or, perhaps, in the position of all of the managing editors of the periodicals you’ve shown?  How are these headlines inaccurate?  Sure, they focus on the particularly confrontational moments of yesterday’s events…but reporting what is there is not wrong.  

    So – what would you have done?

    • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

      First off, if the site has been frustrating you for years, why are you still reading it? Second, the commentary is self-explanatory. It’s a powerful photo and, if I was the photographer, I’d feel lucky and proud to have taken it. But that’s completely beside the point. The issue here is how the traditional media is parading this image around as if it were representative of the character and will of Occupy, and in doing so, defaming the movement. Obviously, this post hit a wrong note in you, somehow. My guess, however, is that you keep coming back because these threads are full of thoughtful and articulate voices, and that maybe the post author’s, too, have something worthwhile to say every once in a while.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/thomasgokey Thomas Gokey

    OMG free speech! The movement is doomed, DOOOOOOMED!

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  • Whatever

    However you define “regular occupiers” the ones at the forefront in Oakland tend to be muttering dirtbags and testosterone poisoned youth. 
    Also, there isn’t anything particularly elucidating about the second photo that would cause it to push the first one off the front page. At all.

  • http://my.care2.com/gilligan13 insaneredneck

    Burn the fucking thing,it is nothing now,just a symbol of unrestrained greed and total disregard for human rights. Don’t forget to thank a repugnantcan for that.

    • Blowmeazzhole

      I totally agree 
      insaneredneck, what the hell does the flag stand for these days? You can’t even protest any more without a city license or being beaten and arrested

  • http://my.care2.com/gilligan13 insaneredneck

    Burn the fucking thing,it is nothing now,just a symbol of unrestrained greed and total disregard for human rights. Don’t forget to thank a repugnantcan for that.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4CM5LFF3KZNBCE5GBC3XSAZDZM Thor C

    Yea!  Tear down Capitalism!  Then what?  You can spend the rest of your life scavenging for your own food because nobody will fill your local grocery store any more. Spend your time cutting wood to heat your house because you won’t have electricity, which means FORGET about your television, computer, running water, vacuum cleaner, microwave, cell phone, xbox, and lights.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4CM5LFF3KZNBCE5GBC3XSAZDZM Thor C

    Yea!  Tear down Capitalism!  Then what?  You can spend the rest of your life scavenging for your own food because nobody will fill your local grocery store any more. Spend your time cutting wood to heat your house because you won’t have electricity, which means FORGET about your television, computer, running water, vacuum cleaner, microwave, cell phone, xbox, and lights.

  • Anonymous

    “Frustrated” claims to be at a loss for words but then goes on for three paragraphs of specific complaints.  He thinks you are hiding behind your title; he doesn’t agree that there’s anything incendiary or prejudicial about the photograph or its wide distribution; and finally, he argues that the picture accurately represents the events in Oakland.  That’s quite a lot to say in a single post.

    My guess is that “Frustrated” is a political conservative who doesn’t want to own up to it.  He’s rather pleased to see the Occupy movement defamed by being misrepresented; after all, those people are unpatriotic flag burners.  This is a much more straightforward objection than what he offered.  But he is well aware that declaring his values up front would put him in the company of people he’d rather not be associated with because it would weaken his argument.

    “Frustrated” isn’t really at a loss for words.  He could find them if he chose to look for them.  All he needs to say is, “Look, I don’t like what you’re putting out here.  Don’t call yourself a psychologist.”  Then we’d be able to deal with him on that level.  For somebody who accuses you of hiding, this person is peeking out from behind a screen himself.

    Come out, come out, “Frustrated.”  You’re annoyed at this website because anybody at all can participate.  You don’t need credentials; and nobody’s hiding.  What you see is what you get.

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