Howard Zinn died five years ago today. This classic essay on nonviolence is adapted from his speech on May 2, 2009,...
July 19, 2006
Dale Klyn raises beef cows in Corydon, Iowa.
For the past six years, he has been flying an American flag on his property.
But since May 21, that flag has been upside down.
He gives two reasons.
First, he’s angry at a judge for allowing a debtor of his to declare bankruptcy. The debtor, who had bought a business from Klyn on a contract and still owed him $282,000, now only has to “pay me six cents on the dollar,” says Klyn. “The judge approved that on the 18th of May. I was pretty upset about that.”
Second, he wants to show solidarity for Terri Jones.
She’s the Iowa mom who has been flying her flag upside down after her son returned from the Iraq War and committed suicide. (Klyn had never met her before.)
“When I got the Des Moines Register and read the article about Terri Jones and how her son didn’t get the medical attention he needed, I decided I’m going to support her and oppose what the judge had done and fly my flag upside down,” he says.
It got a reaction.
“I went to the local Case equipment dealer and bought some parts, and the salesman come out and he asked me why I was flying the flag upside down,” Klyn says. “So I explained it to him.”
But the salesman wasn’t sold, telling Klyn, “I’ve lost all respect for you. I’ll buy you a one-way ticket anywhere you want to go out of the country,” Klyn recalls.
Klyn says his postal worker also remarked on it.
“The mail carrier left me a personal note,” he says.
A local TV news reporter then came out and did a story on him.
“The next thing I knew I’d been charged with disorderly conduct,” he says. “I was surprised. I have the right and the freedom to do that.”
On July 6, Klyn, represented by the Iowa ACLU, met with a magistrate.
“I pled not guilty,” Klyn says. “No trial date has been set.” Terri Jones, by the way, went to court that day to support him.
“She came to my hearing," he says. “It was very kind of her.”
Alan Wilson, the county attorney who is prosecuting the case, did not return three phone messages for comment.
But Klyn’s troubles go beyond this court case.
He faces death threats from a forum on a Marine vets’ website, www.leatherneck.com, which calls itself the “Marine Corps Community for USMC Veterans.”
That forum contained the following remarks from four different Marines:
“Any scout snipers live in Corydon, Iowa???”
“Corn hole ’m.”
“Fly him under it upside down.”
“If the flag is flying upside down, it means he is in trouble, right? I think we Marines should show up and get him ‘out’ of trouble.”
Says Klyn: “I view it as a threat.”