Donald Trump was on the television giving his “Thank You” speech in Florida. I sat down with my dad last night over pizza and beer and we watched a part of his speech in silence. Then Trump said something that had my dad and I debating for a good 30 minutes.
I can’t find the quote of exactly what he said, but it alluded to his earlier tweet that:
“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”
Many people who are in favor of outlawing flag burning will insist “If you are going to burn a flag because you hate America, then why don’t you just leave and find someplace better to live?”
I understand that opinion. If you hate America enough to burn it’s main symbol, then why don’t you leave. Fair point. But without going on a historical rant, I think we can all agree that the history of America isn’t exactly sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. People of all races and national origins have been mistreated by the American system and have a right to be upset about it. The growing pains of living in such a diverse country manifested themselves through unspeakably horribly atrocities – slavery, manifest destiny, and Japanese internment during WW2 just to name a couple. And there is no question that a certain amount of institutionalized racism still exists today, even if it is no longer as prevalent or explicit.
Despite all of this, I do think America is the greatest country on earth, but I don’t believe it’s because we have more “freedom” or “equality” than other countries. Iceland is free. The UK is free. Japan is free. I just believe that our particular brand of freedom works the best for the demographics and culture that the country has developed over the last 300 years. A vastly diverse country with a huge population and ample natural resources is best left with a little less government interference than, say, Sweden – a country with a small, homogeneous population and very little cultural difference as you move across the country. This little bit of leeway and chaos allows innovation to cruise along at a fast pace, a cause for which higher income inequality is a necessary, if unfortunate effect. When people use the argument that “socialism works in Europe so it will work here” are completely ignoring both the vast demographic and cultural differences between the United States and Nordic countries, and discounting the economic system that has allowed America to become the world’s only superpower.
Ironically, it’s my belief that the act of burning the American Flag symbolizes the greatness of America far more than the flag itself. The Bill of Rights allows the American people the freedom of expression to desecrate the symbol of American freedom of expression. This is hilariously ironic, and the fact that you are allowed to burn the flag makes me even MORE happy I live in this country.
Burning the American Flag to get attention for a cause is an incredibly powerful act that should not be taken lightly. But how interesting and powerful would it be if we as Americans burned the flag not as a symbol of protest or hate, but as acknowledgement and reverence for the sacred individual freedoms provided by a rule of law that allows us to desecrate it’s most precious and iconic symbol?
It’s my opinion that individual rights should be placed above all others – meaning that as long as you are not inflicting harm or negatively affecting other people, you are free to do just about anything you want.
If that means burning the flag in protest, I may disagree with your reasons for doing it… but I support your right under the laws of our great country to do so.
Thanks for reading, and happy Saturday everybody.