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From Hoffman to Schwarzenegger by Claudio Spuri

Abbie Hoffman was arrested for wearing a shirt with the American flag on it.
United States Congress, Abbie Hoffman was arrested for wearing a shirt with the American flag on it.

Arrested for wearing a shirt

On 5 October 1968, the pacifist and activist Abbie Hoffman was in Washington DC to stand trial. The case concerned the incidents that took place during a protest in Chicago a few months before, when he was arrested for wearing a shirt with the American flag on it.
Hoffman stood before the United States Congress. He was aware of the explosive effect his outfit had on law enforcement agencies as well as on the media. He knew he would be arrested, which in fact happened. He was ultimately accused of desecrating the flag; he was tried and sentenced.
He knew he would be arrested, which in fact happened. He was ultimately accused of desecrating the flag; he was tried and sentenced. As a matter of fact, the use of the American flag was clearly codified and published by the American Legion, an organization US Armed Forces. The code clearly stated how the flag should and shouldn’t be used; it explicitly prohibited from using it for advertising purposes or wearing it as apparel. I am not sure if today’s version is the same as the one from 1968, but the Code’s articles are still a very interesting read. Especially paragraph 8, entitled Respect for Flag.
 
Abbie Hoffman cover People May 1th 1989
Abbie Hoffman cover People May 1th 1989

Founding Fathers of the United States

On the other hand, Hoffman’s defense in the trial was just as peculiar. He claimed his outfit was inspired by Washington Crossing the Delaware, a 1851 painting by Emanuel Leutze; it depicted George Washington and other American patriots during the Revolutionary War draped in a large American flag. In his opinion, convicting him for dishonoring the flag meant condemning the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Incidentally, Hoffman and his American shirt can be seen in the movie Forrest Gump during the scene of the Vietnam War protest.

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger 1983
Schwarzenegger fotografato con due bandiere americane mentre indossa una maglietta con la bandiera americana

From Hoffman to Schwarzenegger

There is another story that took place fifteen years later, this time involving Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had already abandoned the world of bodybuilding, but he hadn’t started his political career yet. The actor arrived to the United States as a twenty year old back in 1968, one month before Hoffman’s arrest. In 1983, he managed to fulfill his dream of becoming a US citizen.
That day, Schwarzenegger celebrated the event in a perfectly patriotic style: surrounded by two American flags, and wearing one as a shirt.
There is a photo of that celebration, shared online by the actor himself (here on facebooktwitter , and instagram) in occasion of the 2012 presidential elections. The picture is accompanied by a message: “Get out & vote. For bonus inspiration, here is a picture of one of my proudest moments, the day I became a citizen.”
What can I say! Fifteen years seem like a short timespan, but sometimes they feel like an eternity. A time machine so powerful as to change the rules of the game for an entire society.
 
Claudio Spuri, Il tatuaggio di stoffa (“The fabric tattoo”)