Rick Hertzberg connects two kinds of political burning:
[Y]ou can’t burn “the” flag, and you can’t burn “the” Koran, either. The flag is a Platonic ideal. As such, it is fireproof. Any particular flag is merely a copy, and you can’t destroy the flag by destroying a flag any more than you can destroy (or even harm) the Constitution by destroying a copy of it. Nor can you destroy the Koran by destroying a copy thereof, or any number of copies. But I can’t claim to understand the emotions involved, really; where religion is concerned, I’m an infidel. So I don’t want to push the point.