Early on the morning of November 29th, Donald Trump tweeted “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag — if they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Disregarding the fact that Donald Trump really has no power to overturn the controversial 1990 Supreme Court Case Texas vs Johnson, this is concerning to me for a variety of reasons.
The greatest document of the United States is the Constitution. It is the sword and shield that the citizens use to guard themselves against the overreach of a tyrannical government. It guarantees the people of our great nation inalienable rights, rights that are often imperiled in other countries around the world. The Constitution legally enables the people of the United States to be free.
One of my concerns in recent years has been the fact that the Constitution is often taken for granted or ignored by the people of this country, or the significance of it is understated. Most of us are used to growing up in a free society, and it is hard to imagine living without the rights that we are given. But many forget that the US has a long history of denying constitutional rights to the people of the US and of other countries. For example, some of the oldest laws in our country are the Alien and Sedition Acts, passed in 1798 under President John Adams. The Sedition Act made it illegal to criticize the government, and the Alien Friends Act made it legal for the President to deport at will non-citizens who were deemed dangerous. Or the Sedition Act of 1918 passed under President Wilson, which made it illegal to criticize the government or the war effort. The Government used this as an excuse to jail female suffragists, and their political enemies, like the Socialist Politician Eugene Debs.
Espionage and Sedition ActsMy point with this is that the United States is a free country when people ensure that their rights are protected. Apathy leads to these rights being infringed upon.
My view on flag burning is that I wouldn’t do it, and I believe that most people would get extremely angry with you, you have a right to burn the American Flag as free speech. Trump threatening to jail people or take away their citizenship for burning the flag is a gross violation of our civil rights, and I’m sure that we will eventually learn that while Republicans like Trump, Bush, and Reagan worship the Constitution, they will not hesitate to take away our rights in the name of “national security.”
Now more than ever it is important for every American Citizen to understand and fight for their rights. Donald Trump will continue to crack down on our civil liberties, flag burning is just the beginning. He will expand the NSA and their illegal spying activities, and he will attempt to make dissent a crime.
Regardless of your views on flag burning, we are guaranteed that right by the Supreme Court and the Constitution, and we must respect it. The second that we give Donald Trump ground on this issue, the harder it becomes. I urge every American to understand the Constitution, to make sure that Donald Trump and his Administration are not able to violate your rights as a human being.