American Legion National Commander Michael D. Helm and Citizens Flag Alliance (CFA) Chairman Richard Parker have news for members of Congress who resist support of a U.S. flag protection amendment on the grounds that no one burns flags anymore. Wednesday evening in Brooklyn, NY, an anarchist group that wants to strip the New York Police Department of its authority and weapons, burned a U.S. flag and a confederate flag that the protestors described as “symbols of oppression.”
“First of all, it is within the rights of this admittedly anti-American group to burn our flag in protest, thanks to a highly unpopular Supreme Court ruling in 1989,” Helm said. “It may be within their rights, but that does not make it right. As a veteran, I am disgusted by it, as I am every time I learn of intentional desecration of the American flag. And it’s more than a little ironic that the flag they are destroying symbolizes the freedom they have to do so, without fear of arrest. This is not free speech. It’s stupid behavior. And it’s an insult to the men and women who gave their lives fighting under the colors of our nation.”
“The physical desecration of the American flag in Brooklyn today was an act of cultural terrorism,” said Richard Parker, a Harvard law professor and chairman of the CFA, a coalition of more than 140 organizations that wants Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit U.S. flag desecration. “It was an attempt to equate the American flag with the confederate battle flag – to redefine it as, according to their words, ‘a symbol of oppression and genocide.’
“In our campaign to restore the power of Congress to protect the American flag – a power taken away by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision – we’ve been told that no one burns the flag anymore,” Parker continued. “We’ve been told it needs no protection that its place in the hearts and minds of the American people is secure, that the sentiment it has long evoked, the bonds among us that it has long affirmed, are deep-rooted in our shared culture.
“But symbols can be redefined,” Parker said. “Cultural values can disintegrate. Sometimes it happens so slowly as to be almost unnoticeable. Sometimes, though, it happens quite suddenly. Suddenly, one feels homesick at home. Yet those are the times when our people – rising above a multitude of differences – can be shocked into action, to resist what we see happening, to defend values that bind us together, despite everything. This is such a time.”
The American Legion supports House Joint Resolution 9, introduced by Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., in January. Its text simply states: “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.” A Senate companion bill has yet to be introduced in the 114th Congress.
Contact: Jill Druskis, President of the Citizens Flag Alliance, firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-630-1