Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Flag burning, patriotism, and reality

flagburningtrump2a

Tweet by President-elect Donald Trump on flag burning
 

Is appearance more important than reality?
 

Why do people burn the American flag?

There may be many reasons, but the essence appears to be an attempt to shock people to recognize what the flag burners see as hypocrisy.

What is the purpose of prohibiting burning of the American flag?

Some people place more value in this symbol of America (the flag), than they do in what makes America great (the Constitutional protections of the rights of Americans).

Is President-elect Trump an opponent of the American Constitution? Is President-elect Trump just engaging in a politically correct theatrical display for people who do not seem to understand that the American Constitution doesn’t care if their feelings get hurt?
 


 

In 1798, Congress passed, and President John Adams signed, the Alien and Sedition Acts.[1] These restricted eligibility to vote, restricted immigration, allowed for increased deportation of aliens considered dangerous, and made criticism of the federal government illegal. This is one example of Founding Fathers acting in a way that is contrary to what many consider their original intent.

Recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia voted in the majority to protect flag burning in 1989.[2] Did Justice Scalia hate America, hate the American flag, or is it more complex than an early morning tweet can express?

In 1943, during World War II, the Supreme Court decided on a variation of this concept. Is it Constitutional to force people to demonstrate patriotism?
 

To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.[3]

 

Real patriotism is not a politically correct compulsory display.
 

But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.[3]

 

The American Constitution does not authorize thought crimes.
 

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.[3]

 

What about those who claim that Americans have risked their lives, and even died, to protect the sanctity of the American flag? Does service in any branch of the American military contain any oath to protect the American flag?
 

(a) Enlistment Oath .-Each person enlisting in an armed force shall take the following oath:
“I, ____________________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
[4]

 

The So help me God is optional, since there is no truth to the myth that there are no atheists in foxholes and the American Constitution prohibits all religious requirements for service.

The oath is to protect the American Constitution, which protects flag burning. The oath is not to protect the American flag.

Even Jesus stated opposition to this kind of political theater.
 

5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners [a]so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.[5]

 

What does it say about America that we reward theatrical patriotism, rather than respect for the Constitution which makes America great?

Or is President-elect Trump taking initial steps to try to get Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission[6] overturned by expressing that not everything is protected expression? Who can tell with someone who expresses himself in such a vague manner?

Is appearance more important than reality?

Footnotes:

[1] Alien and Sedition Acts
1798
Primary Documents in American History
Library of Congress page

[2] Texas v. Johnson, (1989)
No. 88-155
Argued: March 21, 1989
Decided: June 21, 1989
United States Supreme Court
case

[3] West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (No. 591)
Argued: March 11, 1943
Decided: June 14, 1943
case

[4] §502. Enlistment oath: who may administer
Text contains those laws in effect on November 28, 2016
US Code page

Amended in 1962 – inserted “So help me God” in the oath, and “or affirmation” in text.

[5] Matthew 6:5-6
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
You can go to the site and look up all of the other versions of the Bible or just pick up a Bible and read this.
Bible Gateway
Bible

[6] Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
2009
case

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