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Declare independence 

As usual, American flags were flying in cities and towns all across the country on July 4th — but not all of them were the traditional Stars and Stripes that symbolize our nation's independence and America's historic commitment to liberty and justice for all.

Instead, in more than 200 places — from Alabaster, Ala., to Mount Vernon in Washington state — "Corporate America" flags were unfurled, starkly posing the question of whether we really are an independent people ... or a people who've been rendered subservient to global corporate power.

This "Corporate America" flag still was red, white and blue, but in place of the 50 stars in the corner of Old Glory, the logos of McDonald's, IBM, GE, Nike, CBS, Texaco, and other giants shone forth in all their garish glory.

In the spirit of America's first official flag — the revolutionary "Don't Tread On Me" banner — these rebellious flags implored citizens to declare independence from corporate rule. They were raised in protest against the corporatization of our health care system, schools, media, environment, food, politics, government and every other aspect of society.

Some hoisted the provocative flags in front of such chains as Starbucks and Wal-Mart, some draped them from highway overpasses, and some carried them in July 4th parades. The biggest was in New York City, where the Corporate-Spangled Banner appeared on a 600-square-foot billboard near Times Square. In Colorado one fed-up citizen painted it on the side of his house, and in Kansas the corporate flag was burned.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... While politicians who're owned by some of these very corporations gave pious July 4th speeches about America's revolutionary ideals, these patriots were putting those ideals into action. To know more about this growing assertion of grassroots independence from our modern-day corporate autocrats, contact a watchdog group called Adbusters: 607-736-9401. Jim Hightower's latest book, If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates, has just been released in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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