Opinion: It’s time to dump the Bear Flag


By Alex Abella, Los Angeles Times

One hundred and sixty nine years ago in a frontier town, a band of thieves, drunks and murderers hoisted a home-made flag and declared themselves in revolt from a government that had welcomed them. Instigated by an expansionist neighboring power, the rebels aimed to take over completely and impose their language, culture and mores on the land. The revolt succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations.

That frontier town was Sonoma, the land was California, and the rebels, American settlers spurred on by promises of help from U.S. Army Captain John Fremont. The rebel standard, the flag of the so-called California Republic, became the California State Flag. It’s time California dump that flag, a symbol of blatant illegality and racial prejudice. Like the Confederate cross of St. Andrew, the Bear Flag is a symbol whose time has come and gone.

When the Legislature voted to adopt the rebel standard as the state flag in 1911, California was in the grip of a racist, jingoistic fever.

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Comments (19)
  1. sunriser2 says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    Mexico does such a fine job of running their country we should follow their example.

  2. business owner says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    Reading that first line I thought he was talking about east L.A.

  3. Dubliner says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    It’s time to dump the welfare system.

  4. SeaMoore says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    I have no idea why LTN would reprint should a lame story written by Alex that skews the truth to further some personal vendetta of his. Slave owners, murderers, thieves, drunks and squatters? This is truly journalism at it’s worst.

  5. AROD says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    Let the racist rants begin. You do realize he is talking about white “settlers”? This genocidal thievery began as soon as the white devil hit Plymouth rock. Might as well move to change the USA flag as well.

  6. Kits Carson says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    You don’t like our flag?
    Then get the EF out of our state!! Go whine somewhere else and stop trying to change history.

  7. K9woods says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    I am fond of the bear but knowing its source makes me think it might be time for some updating. Those who would conflate this issue with that of the welfare state or even compare it to the meaning of the U.S. Flag are sending up false arguments.

    Maybe a flag that celebrates the best of our diverse geography, people and economies would be a better symbol for what we have become.

  8. Biggerpicture says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    Gotta love right wing zealots with the false dilemma slogan of, “love it or leave it”.

    What nonsense!

    Kits, you do realize that our nation was built on the concept of being able to make changes as needed, don’t you? And if I’m not mistaken you and a few others on this forum whine continually about the State of California!

  9. worldcycle says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    Before we change it, lets conduct a multi-million dollar study which includes educating the entire population of California as to how the bear flag came about. Then we need to hold a special election to decide if we even need to bother changing the flag to something different. Next step would be to hire a design consulting and marketing graphic arts (advertising) group to put together a neutral design that will not offend any religious, political, ethnic, minority, majority or gender groups. Then we have to foresee any future groups that may come into existence in the future that may be offended by the actions we do to implement our new flag. (Which by the way needs to have another special election held so that we the residents of California may choose the most favorable design.) All in all, I think it is a great idea, don’t you?

  10. Blue Jeans says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    Maybe we should at least replace the Grizzly bear with a black bear being as we killed the last California Grizzly decades ago.

  11. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    I think the bear flag of California is just fine. Do not change it! OLS

  12. Kits Carson says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    Not a bad idea Blue Jeans, but you know some liberal fools will whine that it’s “Raciest”.

  13. nature bats last says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    OLS I Agree. I like having a bear on our flag.

  14. Dogula says - Posted: June 15, 2015

    Yes, the Bear Flag is a beauty. California would be foolish to change it. It’s not supposed to be about fashion, it’s history!

  15. Hmmm... says - Posted: June 16, 2015

    Racy: adjective, racier, raciest.

    1. slightly improper or indelicate; suggestive; risqué.
    2. vigorous; lively; spirited.
    3. sprightly; piquant; pungent:
    a racy literary style.
    4. having an agreeably peculiar taste or flavor, as wine, fruit, etc.

    Idiot: noun

    1.Informal. an utterly foolish or senseless person.

    2. Psychology. (no longer in technical use; considered offensive) a person of the lowest order in a former and discarded classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.

    Now, you were saying….

  16. County Gal says - Posted: June 16, 2015

    Where is Ann Bryant and her bear league?

  17. Justice says - Posted: June 16, 2015

    Lower California should be returned to Spain so they can pay the welfare burden. The rest of the state should form the state of Jefferson and the bear can be placed on the new flag along with some other things that proclaim freedom. The current Jefferson flag flying is a pre-state flag but the movement is growing across the north state and a new flag would be proper.

  18. nature bats last says - Posted: June 16, 2015

    Hmmmm, good info. I bet they didnt get it though…

    State of jefferson, no thanks….

  19. Mr mustache says - Posted: June 16, 2015

    Nature. Exactly….. YOU stay in Calimexico and we’ll move to Jefferson. But you have to keep kits as part of the deal. :)