In de­fense of the Bear Flag

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

Re “Time to get rid of the Bear Flag,” Opin­ion, June 14

The Bear Flag, in spite of its ori­gins, is a strik­ing sym­bol of a di­verse and con­stantly chang­ing state that needs strong sym­bols to hold it to­gether as a po­lit­i­cal com­mu­nity. While South­ern states’ flags based on Con­fed­er­ate ban­ners can easily bring racism to mind, our Bear Flag is likely to evoke two pos­i­tive ideas.

First, na­ture, and the need to pro­tect it, is rep­re­sented by the Cal­i­for­nia griz­zly bear, a sub­species ex­tinct since the 1920s.

Sec­ond, Cal­i­for­nia’s long tra­di­tion of po­lit­i­cal in­no­va­tion within the fed­eral sys­tem is sug­gested by the word “Re­pub­lic.” What James Bryce wrote in “The Amer­i­can Com­mon­wealth” in 1888 still holds true: “Cal­i­for­nia, more than any other part of the Union, is a coun­try by it­self ... it has grown up in its own way and ac­quired a sort of con­scious­ness of sep­a­rate ex­is­tence.”

The Bear Flag flies over public build­ings in ev­ery cor­ner of the state. Long may it wave.

Ted Trzyna


Alex Abella’s sug­ges­tion that the Bear Flag be aban­doned was made with­out ac­knowl­edg­ing the ob­scen­ity of hav­ing as the em­blem of our flag a crea­ture that we drove to ex­tinc­tion.

The ab­sence of ac­tual griz­zlies in Cal­i­for­nia adds to his sum­mary of greed, ex­ploita­tion and slaugh­ter in our shared history.

In con­sid­er­ing a change to our flag, our state might be well served by look­ing at cir­cum­stances in which our nat­u­ral won­ders have been saved and re­vived.

Re­plac­ing the griz­zly bear with a Cal­i­for­nia con­dor, sea ot­ter or, more se­ri­ously, a se­quoia would af­firm the best of Cal­i­for­nia.

Michael Llach

Porter Ranch

Leave our Cal­i­for­nia flag alone.

Yes, the state flag rep­re­sents our early history, the con­text of which Abella mostly leaves out. But it also rep­re­sents the peo­ple of to­day: in­dus­tri­ous, pro­gres­sive, cre­ative and in­no­va­tive, a di­verse group of peo­ple who have pro­duced one of the strong­est economies in the world pro­vid­ing tech­nol­ogy, en­ter­tain­ment and sus­te­nance.

It’s too sim­plis­tic to mis­use the Cal­i­for­nia flag as the sym­bol of shame for what he calls a “band of thieves, drunks and mur­der­ers.”

Richard Moskun


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