Communist Group That Loves Burning Flags Probably Thrilled Trump Gave Them a Reason to Burn Flags

A law enforcement officer takes Gregory “Joey” Johnson into custody after he started to burn an American flag in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention, July 2016. Photo via AP
A law enforcement officer takes Gregory “Joey” Johnson into custody after he started to burn an American flag in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention, July 2016. Photo via AP

If there’s one thing you should know about the Revolutionary Communist Party, it’s that they love burning American flags. If there are two things you should know about the RCP, it’s that they love burning flags and they’re very strange, a little cult-like, and have a mysterious, reclusive leader that no one ever sees. And now, their moment in the fiery sun has arrived, because of Donald Trump.

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The RCP was founded by a guy named Bob Avakian, who for the past 25 years has lived, as one reporter puts it, “ostentatiously underground.” The RCP has been accused by its critics of being a cult or cult-like, which is a question too big for us to settle here today. All you need to know, really, is that RCP folks show up reliably at every major national protest, calling for “Revolution, nothing less” (when they’re not publicly feuding with Marxist groups in a series of endless, sometimes unintentionally funny internecine turf wars).

At protests, they carry the same signs, they shout the same things, and they burn a series of flags, as they did just recently at the Republican National Convention. One of their members, as our own Brendan O’Connor wrote at the time, was arrested while burning a flag, because police claimed he’d also set himself alight unintentionally. The arrested person, in fact, was Gregory “Joey” Johnson, a free speech activist who literally pursued his right to burn flags all the way to the Supreme Court, in the case that ultimately affirmed the legality of flag-burning. 

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So you can just imagine how thrilled the RCP must be with President-elect Donald Trump’s sudden claim that flag-burners should be arrested and stripped of their citizenship. A few of their members showed up outside the Trump International Hotel in New York on Tuesday and did what they do, this time with a news peg:

I am personally just excited that someone around here gets to do what they love.

Anna Merlan was a Senior Reporter at G/O Media until September 2019. She's the author of Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power.

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DISCUSSION

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I hate patriotic displays and the nationalism they engender. Freaking out about the treatment flag and people losing it over not standing for the national anthem are two things that drive me insane. We are literally a country based on the idea of independent thought- on ideas not symbols. People losing it over burning the flag drives me nuts- it is a piece of fabric. Who cares?!?!?!?! I get it, it is a symbol, but these same people losing their minds (including Trump) probably supported that pastor that burned the Koran a few years ago. To quote the Simpsons, “just don’t look!”