During the Vietnam War, the left further weakened itself by abandoning the notion of patriotism. Young antiwar leaders burned the flag instead of invoking the ideals of the republic it represents. By turning their backs on the idea of patriotism — and even on the brave men who were fighting the unpopular war — the left abandoned the field to the right to “brand” patriotism as it own, often in a way that means uncritical support for anything the executive branch decides to do. In the Reagan era, when the Iran-contra scandal showed a disregard for the rule of law, college students were preoccupied with the fashionable theories of post-structuralism and deconstructionism, critical language and psychoanalytic theories developed by French philosophers Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida that were often applied to the political world, with disastrous consequences. These theories were often presented to students as an argument that the state — even in the United States — is only a network of power structures. This also helped confine to the attic of unfashionable ideas the notion that the state could be a platform for freedom; so much for the fusty old Rights of Man.