When 'Woke' is More Sacred than Old Glory
On my desk is a framed political cartoon with the caption: “Burning the American Flag is a form of free speech? Try burning a rainbow flag and see if that too is considered a form of free speech?” You could replace “rainbow flag” with “BLM flag,” or even “Antifa flag.” The cartoon lances the recent rise in free-speech hypocrisy that promptly abandons the First Amendment and drums up hysterical charges of “hate speech” when certain sacred cows du jour are so much as mildly criticized.
In the Left’s campaign to “fundamentally transform” America and rid it of soi-disant racism, homophobia, transphobia, and other perceived ills, certain symbols -- the American flag, and a panoply of images of western culture -- have been isolated as representative of “the white patriarchy,” deserving of derision and destruction. Therefore, it has become perfectly acceptable to desecrate them. At the same time, it has become hateful to even give a disapproving look to banners or murals representing the LGBTQ+, militant black groups, or anything remotely leftist. “Woke” symbols are untouchable; free speech be damned.
Quite a few incidents point to this bizarre dual trend, which aims to crush American ideals underfoot and ridicule -- even eradicate -- the patriotic emotions true Americans have honestly felt and nurtured in their hearts while forcing them by propaganda and law to embrace ideas their hearts have always militated against. The U.S. flag has been a symbol of freedom and justice for over 225 years and represents the American people in vibrant plurality: e pluribus unum, not one constituency or point of view. It also honors all those who fought and died to preserve our freedom and liberty. So, it has obviously been a prime target of America’s enemies within.
On Memorial Day in 2016, veteran Robert Rosebrock was criminally charged for displaying two four-by-six American flags on the fence outside a Veteran Affairs facility in West Los Angeles and faced up to six months in jail. Says Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, which successfully defended Rosebrock, “Why in the world would the feds prosecute a 74-year-old veteran over the placement of two small American flags at the entrance to a park honoring veterans on Memorial Day?”
In 2019, air force veteran Robert Huey was denied permission by his homeowners' association (HOA) to fly an American flag at his residence in South Carolina. Huey, who is suing the HOA, had researched the association’s rules before buying the house and found no prohibitions against displaying the American flag. He is now fighting a case for the freedom to broadcast his love for the country.
Controversy has surrounded the burning of the American flag for decades. But never has our republic seen such hostility to, and disapproval of, the display of the American flag as in recent years. This coincides with the rise of anti-Americanism, fueled by Marxist groups and disaffected Leftist factions. In the not-so-distant past, like in most countries, the destruction of our flag was punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.
In 1969, Supreme Court Justices Earl Warren, Hugo Black, and Abe Fortas had characterized flag desecration as a harmful action, not a form of speech, as those who cite the First Amendment would claim. They said the states and the federal government could protect the flag from desecration and disgrace. But in 1984, when a protestor set fire to an American flag outside the Republican National Convention in Dallas, his initial conviction for flag desecration was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. On appeal, in what is now known as the Texas v. Johnson ruling of 1989, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 that burning the American flag, shredding it, or defecating or urinating on it, were forms of speech protected by the First Amendment.
Of late, many Americans have also been sickened by the sight of professional athletes “taking the knee” at the sight of Old Glory, during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the national anthem. Ironically, this blatant contempt for America comes from those who have benefited most from the American idea of free enterprise, gaining multimillion-dollar contracts.
The hypocrisy of some basketball players and team owners couldn’t have been more obvious than when LeBron James and others disrespected the flag and the national anthem at a Laker’s opener against the Clippers last year. They were allegedly protesting racial inequality and police brutality. Only a week earlier, James had slammed those protesting for democracy and against China’s human rights violations in Hong Kong as “uneducated.” When Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” the NBA apologized profusely and then silenced him.
Around the same time, the NBA, which had struck multimillion-dollar deals with various Chinese companies that make use of slave labor, admitted to having closed a training facility in Xinjiang, home to Uighur prison camps. This came after Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) harshly criticized the NBA for kowtowing to China’s demands in its pursuit of lucrative deals. Ironically, in China, flag desecration is prohibited -- and severely punished.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) organizations headed by self-admitted Marxist revolutionaries have condemned the American flag as a “symbol of hate.” Their Utah chapter recently posted on their Facebook page, “When we black Americans see this flag we know the person flying it is not safe to be around.” When objections were raised the chapter responded with: “Welcome racists. We know you are big mad about the racist flag post. You will not be heard here. You will be blocked and your comments will be deleted.”
To return to what the cartoon on my desk decries, take the case of a California couple who, earlier this month, was charged with a hate crime. The couple was caught on video painting over a BLM mural emblazoned on the street in front of the courthouse in downtown Martinez. They strongly believe that the existence of racism is a “Leftist lie,” and are sick of “the narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism.” But it is a belief they are no longer free to hold or express -- despite the First Amendment. The local district attorney, supporting BLM, said, “We must address the root and byproduct of systemic racism in our country. The Black Lives Matter movement is an important civil rights cause that deserves all of our attention.”
Meanwhile, the BLM movement -- avowedly Marxist, anarchist, against American constitutional order, and in favor of world revolution -- is forgiven the massive rioting, looting, arson, and assaults it perpetrated last summer. Leaders like Melina Abdullah continue to provoke the targeting of affluent white neighborhoods, and founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors proclaims BLM’s pursuit of “world communism” while enriching herself through real-estate deals and dubious donations.
It now seems that in America, symbol desecration, deemed a constitutional act of free speech by the Supreme Court, is privileged only to the “woke.” Patriotic Americans can neither fly their flag nor paint over disturbing murals that they disagree with and find distasteful.
But a fightback is underway -- at least in a small way. Five police officers in Palo Alto have sued the city for permitting a BLM mural with anti-police images. The mural features a convicted cop-killer who escaped to Cuba and bears the emblem of the radical New Black Panthers. The cops are demanding that an “atrocity” celebrating a fugitive cop-killer and in violation of state fair employment and housing laws be removed from in front of City Hall. They find it demeaning to pass it every day.
It’s time to fight for the right to remove from sight symbols that offend most patriotic, loyal Americans and promote the destructive agenda of the “woke.”