SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- On Tuesday morning, President-elect Donald Trump once again seized the helm of social media to issue a stern warning, with severe repercussions, for American citizens attempting to exercise their right to free speech by burning a flag. “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Trump tweeted. He forgot, however, that the United States Flag Code specifically calls for the fiery destruction of unserviceable flags. In fact, American Legion members immolated 2,000 retired flags in a ceremony this June. Trump has demanded that this “coven of cultists, fifth columnists and commie witches be rounded up and jailed.”
Flags vs. Fracking, a Necessary Political DistractionTo avoid facing the threat of acknowledging the government sanctioned violence against unarmed Standing Rock supporters, who are protesting the Dakota Pipeline, President-elect Donald Trump returned the nation’s attention to the ideological battleground of flag burning.
The physical battleground at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota has carefully eluded mainstream media coverage for months. Now that 2,000 U.S. veterans have pledged to serve as “human shields” to defend peaceful protesters from militarized police forces, the situation is becoming harder to ignore. Fortunately for America’s economic recovery and vital business interests, Trump’s mastery of diversion will quickly shift focus to a trivial matter that was settled in the 1980s.
Despite his lack of government experience, Trump has proven himself a capable demagogue who is able to manipulate popular opinion by transforming irrelevant issues to urgent political perils. He has normalized nativism, racism, misogyny and ecological apocalypse. So although the Supreme Court has ruled twice that burning the U.S. flag remains an act protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, Trump will not let an archaic piece of parchment deter him from his most recent distraction, involving an archaic piece of cloth.
Trump Calls the Flag Code a Criminal OffenseUnsettling as destroying a national symbol may seem, this expression usually demonstrates critique of the government rather than defiance or lack of patriotism. In 2012, Justice Antonin Scalia defended flag burning as fundamentally protected by the Constitution. This free exercise of speech was intended by the Founders to prevent the rise of a nation ruled by tyranny.
“If I were king, I would not allow people to go around burning the American flag. However, we have a First Amendment, which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged -- and it is addressed in particular to speech critical of the government,” Scalia said. “That was the main kind of speech that tyrants would seek to suppress.”
Still, conservative politicians have long rallied to find a way to punish citizens for destroying the venerated banner. What all have neglected to consider is that burning a flag is the proper method of disposal.
According to the U.S. Flag Code, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display (for example, the flag being faded or torn), should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”
This June, American Legion Post 298 in Iowa set 2,000 torn flags ablaze during their annual ceremony.
“About 60 people attended this year’s ceremony,” The Gazette reported. “The event takes place each year around Flag Day, which this year is celebrated on June 14. The flags -- mostly the stars and stripes, along with a few POW/MIA and military branch flags -- were collected over the past year by the American Legion posts in Springville and Marion.”
Representatives for Donald Trump said the president-elect was outraged upon discovering the news. Even though burning is the proper method of flag disposal, Trump labeled it a criminal offense. And he demanded punishment.
“He was furious,” said a senior member of Trump’s public relations team. “He just couldn’t believe that veterans, active servicemembers and so-called patriots would burn thousands of flags each year -- and in a ceremony. He accused the American Legion of being nothing more than a dangerous cult, like climate scientists or tax attorneys or soldiers who are heading over to protect a bunch of whiny Indians. ‘They’re a dangerous coven of ghouls and demons,’ he told us. President Trump will be organizing a task force to locate these villains, capture them and then dispatch them to the extraordinary rendition centers he learned about during his two intelligence briefings.”
Countless public servants, Trump discovered, burn scores of old flags each year. He identified all of these authorities -- from police officers to military personnel -- as suspects on a growing list of enemy combatants his administration vows to prosecute in the coming months.
“With any luck,” Trump’s public relations team said, “this witch hunt will help Americans forget about a bunch of superstitious tribes who are trying to stop the march of progress by thwarting domestic fuel production.”
(c) 2016. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. All articles are works of satire. See disclaimers.