Blind Idolatry No Substitute For Patriotism

by Thomas D. Walls

I've read recently that Congress is closer to passing a Constitutional amendment to prohibit flag burning. It's passed the House, but it still needs to go through the Senate. 49 state legislatures have alreay passed resolutions supporting such an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Rarely have I seen such a hypocritical, meaningless crusade.

I call it hypocritical because in elevating a mere symbol, the Amendment would negate our founding principles: individual freedom, freedom of speech and private property. If I own a particular flag, I am entitled to do anything at all with it. It would surely be an outrageous act to burn an American flag or desecrate it, but it should not be a crime.

America does not suffer from rampant flag burnings. People have enough respect for the flag to discourage this sort of behavior. In the rare cases where someone burns another's flag, they should be prosecuted for theft or vandalism - it's as simple as that.

To oppose this nonsensical amendment does not mean one disrespects veterans or is somehow anti-American. I say to support it does not mean that you are a patriot. Leave it to the false patriots to wrap themselves in the flag.

I love America, and the Stars and Stripes always bring a smile to my face. I know how to respect the flag, how to fold it and even how to dispose of it respectfully when worn or tattered. I performed flag duty for years as a Boy Scout and in ROTC.

What needs to be protected from desecration are the principles of freedom our Founding Fathers sacrificed so much to establish. I define patriotism as one's effort to understand these principles. The American Constitution and the Bill of Rights were designed to constrain the use of government power in order to protect liberty. What we need is not more laws but more education in our country's history.

Our military do not serve, fight and die so our government can criminalize flag burning. This law is an insult, not a tribute to them. I come from a military family. My own grandfather was at Pearl Harbor when bombs rained down on his ship. Luckily, he is still around to inspire me. He concurs with me on this, and is enraged by the fact that our government wastes time pursuing victimless crimes instead of real, violent criminals.

I don't see why Congress has to capriciously amend the Constitution to criminalize a nonexistant problem. When are they going to finally do something about wasteful spending and the insidious tax code we suffer under? April 15th was not that long ago. Maybe if we put election day right after April 15th, Congress would get its priorities straight.

Tom Walls is the Executive Director of the Republican Liberty Caucus.