Better than this

There are worse ways of desecrating the American flag than burning it.

Consider these LSU students for instance.

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This protest took place last year. The student at the center of the protest is a fellow by the name of Ben Haas. Haas had put up a post on Facebook alerting students that he was going to exercise his First Amendment Rights by staging a flag burning and reading something he wrote about due process. Haas was upset because a friend had been arrested after reportedly climbing atop the War Memorial at the University and taking the flag from there, in protest of the Navy Seals killing Osama Bin Laden.

Here’s what Haas had written about all that:

I initially began this flag burning protest to define due process for students and suspected terrorists alike, to call on LSU and universities across the country to defend basic human rights and avoid putting students into the criminal justice system when it can be taken care of internally.

Solidarity means standing with those who are treated as guilty until proven innocent, instead of the other way around. That’s what freedom is, standing with those who express their constitutional rights in ways that may be unpopular, especially the accused and the marginalized no matter the consequences.

In the name of peace, there will be no flag burning today. This country and the flag that flies over it stands for freedom, democracy, love, peace and the ability to question our government.

I initially began this flag-burning protest to defend due process for students and suspected terrorists alike; to call on LSU and universities across the country to defend basic human rights and avoid putting students into the criminal justice system when it can taken care of internally.

Solidarity means standing with those who are treated as guilty until proven innocent, instead of the other way around. That’s what freedom is: standing with those who express their constitutional rights in ways that may be unpopular especially the accused and the marginalized, no matter the consequences.

In the name of peace, there will be no flag burning today. This country and the flag that flies over it stands for freedom, democracy, love, peace and the ability to question our government.

But today, it feels like it’s just about hate and violence, I have received more than 100 threats on my life and on the lives of those I care about. but I also received numerous calls of support from those who agreed with me, military veterans, and even those who said they disagreed with the method I proposed but wanted to show me their support, and for that I am thankful.

We can be better than this. We may disagree on what forms of dissent are appropriate and what the proper forums are to voice them, but the important thing is that we come together and defend the right to dissent at all, especially when this country has asserted its ability to declare anyone an enemy who has a different opinion than the majority.

I feel what is missing most from the United States is a sense of community, love, and acceptance of the differences we may have about issues in the world. If I had one wish for today, it would be to make the world a more peaceful place.

Peace.”

That’s what he attempted to read, only all those Saints wouldn’t let him.

Let me say, I understand why those LSU students were upset. If somebody took a can of red paint and threw it at the Vietnam Memorial Wall as a means of protesting the death of Osama Bin Laden, I might be tempted to open up the can of whoop ass. As it is, I get upset enough when people go by those names smoking their cigarettes, talking on their cell phones, and generally not treating the site as the sacred ground it is to me.

Still.

Chanting USA does not make you a better patriot.

Waving a flag does not make you a better American.

Shouting down others as they attempt to exercise the free speech that is one of the hallmark principals of this country only makes one an ass, not a better citizen.

It’s too bad that self-righteous mob didn’t stop to hear what Haas had to say:

Solidarity means standing with those who are treated as guilty until proven innocent, instead of the other way around. That’s what freedom is, standing with those who express their constitutional rights in ways that may be unpopular, especially the accused and the marginalized no matter the consequences.

As hard as it may be to consider, especially for those of us who have lost loved ones in freedom’s fight, sometimes burning the flag is the most American thing you can do.

Shouldn’t our allegiance and patriotic fervor be reserved for the principles of this country and not solely to its symbols?

 

 

 

About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • http://faithwarming.blogspot.com/ April Terry

    This is a problem that I have pondered about for a long time now when people are pubicly destroyed for expressing their beliefs. What happened to the Dixie Chicks was another example of how we are giving away our freedom on a silver platter and we don’t have to. We have the right to dissent. Our founding fathers set up the checks and balances in our three branches so that the majority would not be able to marginalize the minority. Today, we have done more than just marginalize those who don’t believe like us. We have vilified them. We have hated them. We have threatened violence against them. The problem seems to be worse than I have ever seen it.

  • Ronald Frederick

    Yes, people do vilify each other and say nasty things. However, that is also part of Freedom of Speech. Those people saying nasty things to Mr. Haas also have the right to do that. I think we are talking about civility here. People should be more civil and have manners while others are exercising their rights. However, manners departed us a long time ago. We won’t see any more Lincoln-Douglas Debates. By the way, have you ever read those debates? Fabulous.

  • Sherwood8028

    “Solidarity means standing with those who are treated as guilty until proven innocent, instead of the other way around. That’s what freedom is, standing with those who express their constitutional rights in ways that may be unpopular, especially the accused and the marginalized no matter the consequences.”

    The Constitution says that the Congress is the governing body in our nation and it is they who need to be involved. It baffles me that we seem to prefer marching and rebelling in the streets, before the cameras, but ignoring those we elected to be our voice in the activities of our government. As a result, we have a very inept Congress and it is mainly because, they no longer have any respect for the people they were elected to represent.

  • John in PDX

    I must come clean.
    I am a flag burner.

    http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/more/flagretirement_scouts.htm

    I think Haas has a point. My hope is that he finds an appropriate way to protest.

  • AFRoger

    Some people thought the country was coming apart when young people sang words like these:

    Love is but a song we sing
    Fear’s the way we die
    You can make the mountains ring
    Or make the angels cry…
    C’mon, people, now
    Smile on your brother
    Ev’rybody get together
    Try to love one another right now.

    Can we still think these things?


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