State Rep. Bob Burns had two options when he heard that someone had challenged the use of the American flag as an article of clothing. He could have phoned the person who made the remark — me — and received instant clarification. Instead, he phoned a radio shock jock who loves to whip his listeners into a frenzy with his racist rants.
Burns, an Affton Democrat, made the wrong call. His party now disavows him and wants him to resign.
It all started when I criticized AM radio host Bob Romanik for slicing up the American flag and having it tailored into a clownish Stars and Stripes suit. Real patriots honor and salute the flag instead of sewing zippers and buttons onto it.
I have never objected to people who wear flag lapel pins or other items displaying the flag unobstructed and unaltered. I do object to the Stars and Stripes being used as, say, bandannas. The flag is not a sweatband.
Those who burn the flag or drag it on the ground are, of course, protected by the First Amendment, as is Romanik. Their abuse of the flag and First Amendment makes them no less abhorrent.
Romanik made a big deal last year when a rap star, Waka Flocka, used the flag like toilet paper on stage. Waka Flocka’s abuse of his First Amendment rights earned him the label of “nigger” from Romanik. Since then, Romanik has applied that word to pretty much any black person who merely disagrees him. What a patriot.
My chief objection to Romanik’s flag suit is that it is designed so the stars go up one pants leg and the stripes go up the other. They meet right at his crotch, putting the flag right at Romanik’s butt crack — just as Waka Flocka did. The suit coat is designed so that the stars are tucked under one armpit and the stripes under the other. Every time he perspires, he soils the American flag.
Imagine his show of patriotism while unzipping at the urinal, with his business poking through the Stars and Stripes.
Romanik lies to Vietnam veterans by telling them that I hate their expressions of patriotism. He makes this about lapel pins. He reads out my home phone number and address on air, encouraging listeners to weigh in. I’ve received death threats. What a patriot.
When Burns heard Romanik ranting about me, he called to express his outrage on air. For all Burns’ insistence about not approving of everything Romanik says, I’ve never heard him object when Romanik refers to blacks, including Burns’ own legislative colleagues, as “niggers.” I’ve never heard Burns object when Romanik devotes a Friday segment of his broadcast to callers who want to tell their worst “racist jokes.”
Romanik insists he has nothing against “proud black men.” But the designation is limited only to those who agree with him. The moment any black person challenges Romanik’s racism on-air, he immediately gets cut off, with N-word rants to follow.
The “proud black man” label also does not include the Belleville West High School’s basketball team, which in March won the Illinois state Class 4A championship. These young men did absolutely nothing to earn Romanik’s ire other than to have dark skin and be champions.
He was upset that a photo of them was published on the front page of the Belleville News Democrat. “These guys all look like monkeys,” he said on March 21. “Look at these six black basketball players and tell me that two or three of them don’t look like Curious George.”
What a patriot.
How does Burns respond to such daily, racist garbage? “When they attack you, you tell the truth, Bob,” Burns told Romanik on March 5 as the two discussed my flag commentary.
Less than a minute after Burns’ call, Romanik used the word “faggot” to refer to me. Within the next five minutes, Romanik used the word “nigger” three times. Did Burns call back to object? No, he allowed his comments to stand: You tell the truth, Bob.
Burns asserts that his words have been edited or taken out of context. He is lying. This is the context.
Missourian Caleb Friz did what I did and spoke out against Romanik. In retaliation, Romanik also read out Friz’s phone number and address on air.
A St. Louis circuit court judge issued a restraining order against Romanik last week, after which he stated on air, “You’re going to get a court order over in Missouri that I can’t say something over here in Illinois? Take that court order and shove it up your (expletive). You can kiss my (expletive).”
Oops. If Romanik thinks Missouri courts have no jurisdiction over him, better think again. His station holds licenses for two Missouri relay antennas in De Soto and French Village, about 35 miles south of Affton. Which might explain why Burns gets such a crisp, clear signal as he absorbs Romanik’s patriotic words of wisdom.