Thoughts on Flag Desecration and The First Amendment

 Emotions vs. Principles

Recently, I read a post on Facebook, asking if flag desecration should be punishable by fine or jail. Other posts discuss the same for National Anthem protests, like when Colin Kaepernick knelt during the Star-Spangled Banner. Although I find flag desecration and burning disturbing, I believe that any laws banning it are both unconstitutional and Un-American. This is one of the several issues where I disagree with President Donald Trump.

Bear in mind that I am probably the most pro-American and patriotic person you will ever meet. In the past, our country and flag endured many challenges and yet we are still standing. However, belonging to the American democracy requires us to draw a line between emotions and logic, personal feelings and what is law.

Free Expression 101

The proposals to ban this disgusting form of protest are disturbing. Not only do they undermine our core values but also cover up a greater problem: the lack of genuine patriotism, coming from the heart. In a diverse and democratic society, not everyone can be happy all the time. Almost always, good decisions inevitability make someone unhappy. They must be allowed to vent the frustrations in a legal and peaceful manner. The powers that be should take note and try to identify the systemic issues.

As long as protests are peaceful and non-violent, they are allowed under the First Amendment. Nevertheless, free speech has limits like yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater or rioting, which causes property damage and harm to people. Hence, burning an American flag is not a violent form of protest if the participants applied for the permits, allowing an open fire and peaceful public assembly. However, protestors must be aware. If I see a flag desecration, I am allowed to flip off those protestors and call them names but nothing more (i.e. a peaceful counter-protest). I may even come back, after attaining the appropriate permits, and burn a liberal symbol, whatever that may be (maybe a picture of a giant snowflake – who knows).

Tolerance vs. Acceptance

Living in a democracy, we must tolerate different opinions, people, points of view, and religions as long as they are acting within the law. However, it doesn’t mean that we must accept it (adapt the opposing beliefs). Hence, when someone is reading the Koran out loud in Times Square, I don’t have to convert to Islam. I can just walk away or start reading about Human evolution next to him, offering the audience a choice. When I attended a predominantly Black junior high school back in 1985, Lamont – a fellow student asked if I would consider taking his sister to junior prom. When I said no, he called me a racist and I almost got beat up. Facing him and four others after school, I told him that there is a difference between prejudice and preference. I get along fine with black people, seeing them as fellow Americans, but I was simply not attracted to black women. If I were racist or prejudiced, I would have called him some names and advocated for limiting their ascent. After that, we all went to McDonald’s and shared some laughs.

It is the same with gays. Although I find their lifestyle abhorrent and I do all I can to avoid their assemblies and pride days, I would never oppose their right to pursue happiness. That is, in essence, the difference between tolerance and acceptance and prejudice and preference. As Americans, we must tolerate other people’s traits and choices, as long as they don’t infringe on us, but we don’t have to personally accept them (Lately, liberals have been struggling with this one more than conservatives). Moreover, we don’t have to please or go out of our way for those who feel or act differently that we do. We only need to be tolerant and cordial – that’s it.

Self-Determination & Individual Free Will

Flag desecration is not a problem, in of itself, but rather a symptom. It’s indicative that there is something wrong at a deeper level. Over the past generation, American history and culture, taught in schools and to aspiring citizens has been on the wane. People no longer see our flag as a symbol of our nation, representing our struggles, triumphs, and key turning points. The dilution of “America” in the school curriculum, downgrading the importance of our history and even more so, comparing our ideology and way of life to others, is the core problem.

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee, he never read that things are worse in all of Africa for Black people than in America. Slavery, human trafficking, and even cannibalism still take place there. If Kaepernick read American history, the good, bad, and the ugly, in comparison to other countries he would have realized that despite our problems, we are still the best country and he would have stood proud during the anthem and voiced his concerns about police brutality in another and more thought provoking way.

Most Americans that I have come across who burn or desecrate American flags have very little American education and even less knowledge of the world outside of our borders. Diluting the curriculum has led to the current crisis: a growing lack of national identity. When people lack a nation or tribe, they quickly become disoriented and confused, lashing out in various ways.

However, it is important that people choose America on their own and not by edict. Otherwise, we will become what we stand against: a tyrannical regime like N. Korea that mandates loyalty. Free will and self-determination define America. Those are the principles, upholding the flag. If we lose those, our flag will have little meaning, becoming a commercial logo and nothing more. When people know the story, they will naturally choose America and our flag will fly unmolested.

Core Strength

America strength is defined by our ability to tolerate (lawful and peaceful) opposition, no matter how abhorrent. In fact, it even makes us stronger. Remember, that the Star-Spangled Banner was inspired by our flag, desecrated by the British in the War of 1812 when they bombarded Fort McHenry (Battle of Baltimore) in 1814. Francis Scott Key, witnessing the event was so inspired when he saw the American flag, albeit torn, flying over the fort the next day. Later he wrote our national anthem.

The “Star Spangled Banner” after the Battle of Baltimore in 1814

Perhaps the current spate of flag burnings will inspire us to do something great, affirming our national identity, like in 1814. It is a call to action to make American history and culture an essential part of our school and immigrant education curriculum. Our nation’s identity goes beyond symbols to ideals. The flag is important but its’ meaning depends on our ability to maintain our Constitutional values and the Bill of Rights.

Only weak nations, which often depend on total compliance to work, like North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and China ban flag desecration. Also, democratic nations, with something to hide, like France, Germany, and Italy ban flag desecration. America is neither weak nor has anything to hide. Such a law would weaken our country. Unable to see the symptoms, the suppression of opposition ill push the problems further underground, causing us to lose our national identity in the process. American strength derives from loyalty, chosen with a free will (derived from Protestant values).

Priorities

Flag desecration is not the problem but rather a symptom of a greater issue. Over the past generation, American history and culture, relative to the rest of the world, has been diluted and even taken out of the curriculum. People no longer understand where they live and how it came about, causing them to misplace their frustrations. America stands above all other nations because we tolerate and grow from the opposition, becoming better as time passes.

A flag desecration amendment would not only crowd our prisons but also divert precious financial resources to the legal profession, questioning what is and what isn’t desecration. Moreover, it costs $30,000 to $60,000 per year to incarcerate someone (feed, house, and guard).

So who goes to jail and who doesn’t? Lawyers stand to make a lot of money and get some action in the process if a desecration law is passed.

That is the same salary range for school teachers! Another perspective: a JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or precision-guided bomb that we routinely drop on ISIS costs $18,000 – $40,000 each. Considering or national finances, we must ask ourselves, do we teach kids about America and bomb the terrorists, trying to hurt us, or lock-up every confused person instead? With a $20 trillion national debt, we must choose wisely. Hence, such a law would not only bankrupt our country but also kill it in the process: future generations growing up with no national identity.

Living in free markets means that we don’t have to do business with flag burners. We don’t have to go to museums that fund “flag desecration art.” Furthermore, we can write our congressmen to stop funding those artists who crap on our flag. We don’t have to watch Colin Kaepernick play. There is much we can do without government mandates. Remember that the Globalists want mindless compliance, crushing free will. Those waving our flag, not knowing why are as bad as those burning it. They can just as quickly drop ours’ and raise the UN one instead. America requires informed citizens to endure: our strength comes from the heart!

BTW, where are the Pro-American anti-UN demonstrations, enlighting the confused?