The election of Our National Embarrassment (ONE) is no reason to slack in any way our efforts to preserve and grow the American ideal of inalienable human rights. While he has not yet taken office, he has struck his first blow at those rights. Recently ONE announced that anyone who burns an American flag in protest should have his or her citizenship taken away and/or put in jail for a year. In doing so, he made clear that he was either ignorant of or inimical to those rights that define the American ideal.
ONE’s rant is, first and on the most obvious level, directly contrary to the law of the United States as explicitly interpreted by the Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson. In that case, Justice Brennan, joined by such conservative stalwarts as Justice Scalia, held that burning the flag in protest was an instance of free speech and was therefore not to be restricted in any way. ONE is most likely ignorant of that decision. It would be far more ominous if he were aware of it and therefore meant to attempt to have it thrown out and with it the fundamental rights of all citizens. Such conduct has been the opening gambit of totalitarians around the world. If we do not condemn such a despicable attitude now, we may have to rid ourselves of it in far more difficult ways in the future.
There is, however, a far deeper critique to be made here. ONE’s malevolent comment is based on a mental failing toward which lesser lights like ONE tend. It is basically the tendency to replace reality with some image or symbol of that reality. For instance, we believe in God, and to foster that belief, we create a church. Then, by and by, we place our faith in the church rather than God, to such an extent that, in the name of God, we war against people of other churches. Just so, we commit ourselves to the ideal of equal birth and inalienable rights and we call it America. To represent that ideal, we create a flag. In the exercise of one of those inalienable rights, someone burns that flag in protest. People like ONE object to that burning, and, when it is pointed out that burning the flag is an expression of free speech, one of the most important of our inalienable rights, ONE responds that we need to curb or surrender the ideal in order to preserve the symbol.
I have called that mental failing eidetic displacement. It is the flaw that is at the heart of most political perversions. By adopting this perversion before he has ever taken office, ONE has demonstrated that he is, at best, ignorant and, at worst, a pretender to tyranny. All of us — Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, whatever — if we are to preserve this country and its ideals, need to condemn such attempts every time they occur. Judging by the fact that ONE has started it before he even takes office, we will be working overtime on this critical task.