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Washing Flags in Protest

Last modified: 2004-09-18 by phil nelson
Keywords: washing flags (protest) |
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This isn't at all common, but I do recall that, during the Vietnam war, one political figure made that very suggestion. It was Norman Thomas, perennial candidate of the Socialist Party of the US, who was aghast at flag-burning, insisting that, as a patriotic American, he would much rather see the (sullied, in his view) flag washed, not burned. That is, he loved his country, not what it was doing. It stuck in my mind, but I don't recall anyone ever taking him up on it; the young protesters of the day (he was already old) were far angrier and professed a hatred of the country as well as of the government and its actions.
Albert S. Kirsch, 12 February 2004

I can report that this practice was done in Peru too some years ago. I think it was during the last times of Alberto Fujimori's presidency. According to opposition leaders there was corruption in the government. So during a meeting of the opposition a lot of Peruvian flags were washed with water and soap to "clean" the flag of corruption or "destroy" the corruption (according to Peruvian opposition leaders opinion).

I got surprised when I saw that Peruvian political meeting on TV, because in my country Argentina it is forbidden to clean a national flag. Old and dirty flags have to be destroyed in a proper way here. The idea here is that if you wash or clean the national flag, you "wash" or "erase" the glories obtained in battle. Sometimes during a battle a flag is soaked with blood, so the Argentine idea is that you can not clean that heroes' blood. And that is why Argentine Flags must not be cleaned.
Francisco Gregoric, 12 February 2004

I have more details about the cleaning of Peruvian flags made by opposition members to protest against late president Alberto Fujimori. That protest was made in the year 2000. The initiative was called "lava la bandera" (wash the flag).

You can see some pictures of the "lava la bandera" initiative in the BBC homepage:
Francisco Gregoric, 13 February 2004

This practice was done to protest the current president, Alberto Fujimori. He also showed some photos from it.

I did a quick search on Yahoo News, and I have found these photos, nine in total.

The current leader that this is being done to is Alejandro Toledo. It is trying to "wash away the corruption" away from the nation, and the national flag is the easiest to wash. Trying to wash a seal, a national anthem cd, bird, plant, etc. is harder.
Zachary Harden, 14 Febraury 2004