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Respect Our Flag And Respect Our Freedom

1325 words - 6 pages

The American flag is a symbol that embodies untold sacrifices, inspiration, and encompasses the values Americans hold dear. The colors of the American flag have the following meaning: “…White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour [SIC], and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice" (qtd, in Streufert). Despite its many honors, reverend symbolism, and sanctity, some American citizens chose to desecrate the American flag during protest. Witnessing the burning or desecration of an American flag can be a painful and infuriating experience for many citizens. To burn such a symbol demonstrates disloyalty and hate ...view middle of the document...

The First Amendment of this living document protects freedom of speech for all US citizens. In 1989, the US Supreme Court ruled that burning of the American flag is protected free speech. There is no question that the burning or desecration of the American flag is an offensive act, one that especially dishonors those who serve, and is an assault on American unity. That being said, should the US Congress be able to create laws that govern patriotism and force nationalism? Not all Americans share the same values. The US is a diverse Nation and is great because of it. In the US there are the patriotic and there are the unpatriotic. If all Americans are equal, then the rights of the unpatriotic should be protected just as they are with the patriotic. In a free country the citizens should be able to openly celebrate their love for their country just as they can openly protest their disdain for their country.
Protecting the right to desecrate the flag also serves to balance patriotic and nationalistic attitudes. The American flag can be said to represent two ideologies “…and it is important to distinguish between them: patriotism and nationalism.” (Bratta, 233). When the American flag is desecrated, the question should be asked: what ideology is most affected and what ideology truly matters to the nation? Patriotism is a belief in the “…principals or ideals of a country” (Bratta, 233). As such, patriots believe their country should always maintain the moral and ethical high ground and they do not consider themselves to be superior to others. They acknowledge mistakes and take appropriate measures to correct their actions. Patriotic Americans are true to the following values/ideals “…freedom or liberty, democracy, individualism, equality or egalitarianism, law, and the American dream” (Bratta, 233). “Nationalism is the force attempted by a nation to establish a Nation-State” (Bratta, 233). Nationalists believe their country is never wrong and believe unequivocally in their government’s leaders and their intentions. Nationalist hold their country to be superior to other countries. Nationalism in an extreme manifestation took place in Nazi Germany and lead to two World Wars and mass genocide of Jews. It also existed in the Balkans where it led to ethnic cleansing and genocide. The two mentioned examples most people could agree show the dangerous path nationalism can take. Laws restricting a person’s right to protest and if necessary disrespect their government (flag desecration), cater to a negative nationalist attitude. When love for a country is celebrated and encouraged it is patriotism; when is forced and governed it is nationalism.
Citizens in the US experience a freedom not known to others around the world. Americans, if they chose to do so, can publically desecrate their flag in protest. Flags are burned to protest certain government issues or to distance oneself from certain policies (“Debate”). Countries such as Australia, Belgium, and...

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