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CULTURE

EU Flag Burn Ban Reveals Bloc’s Totalitarian Instincts. Americans Should Differ.

America isn’t a flag. America is a nation.

The European Union is not a nation. It’s anti-nation.

That’s what happens when corporations and their cronies dictate cultural values.

That’s why when the U.S. flag-burning debate reared its head again last week, I took the side of the flag-burners.To be clear, I don’t want people burning the American flag. I simply believe it should not be a crime.

Criminalizing flag-burning smacks of the totalitarian instincts of organizations like the European Union. The EU aggressively defends the few symbols that represent it because it doesn’t have a defining set of values to defend. It institutionally prefers cultural vacuums to social cohesion, secularism to God, and isolated, lonely professionals to strong, robust families.

That’s what happens when corporations and their cronies dictate cultural values.

It’s in almost every social dystopian book or film in recent human history.

They Live. Soylent Green. The Matrix. Even Falling Down, which isn’t so much dystopian as it is as reflection on current societal atomization.

Bill Tilley, Troop 11 committee chair member, places a flag on the ceremony pyre June 14, 2014, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The event was held on the same day the American flag was adopted in 1777, Flag Day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron J. Jenne)

Totalitarianism must be at the core of invented identities, because natural law and therefore natural enforcement are non-existent.

In other words, burn the EU flag and you’re going to prison.

In the realm of organic nationhood and self-determination, it is shared national instincts and deference that unite people. Absent that, as in the EU’s case, it needs to protect the more artificial elements of a nation state i.e. its flag, not its values.

Germany – one of recent history’s most repetitiously egregious actors when it comes to jingoism and identity – is doing it again with its control over the European Union and its symbols.

Lawmakers in Saxony will announce legislation “to take firm and effective action against those whose aim is to disparage the fundamental values ​​of the European Union” by attacking “the reputation of the symbols of the European Union”, according to the Saarbrücker Zeitung regional newspaper and as reported at Breitbart London.

“The proposed law would make rendering the European Union flag — a circle of twelve gold pentagram stars on a field of blue — either ‘removed, destroyed, damaged, unusable or unrecognisable’ a crime punishable by a fine or a custodial term of as much as three years, the newspaper reports.”

In other words, burn the EU flag and you’re going to prison.

This is a cause currently championed in the United States by President Trump and Senator Steve Daines.

“All in for Senator Steve Daines as he proposes an Amendment for a strong BAN on burning our American Flag. A no brainer!” Trump tweeted on Flag Day (also his birthday).

But the above regarding the EU flag and its motivations aside, the “strong BAN” Trump tweets of is not just a ban on burning the American flag, but a broader ban on what is vaguely called “desecration”. The issue is one that has already been fought over for decades, with the Senate and the Supreme Court repeatedly rejecting such a heavy-handed enforcement of respect for one of the symbols of the nation.

What would be the natural response to legislation banning flag burning? More flag burning.

And remember that. The flag is a symbol of the nation. And just one of them, at that.

Flag burning brings up all sorts of anti-American memories from the Cold War period.

If you’ve ever heard an old boy ranting about Commies and their hatred for America, chances are they’re recalling in their minds the types who burned Old Glory while U.S. troops fought against Marxism. Their instincts in seeking to defend the flag are noble.

But enacting legislation contrary to the First Amendment is scarcely the way to do it.
In fact, it’s a shortcut from having to do the hard graft of nation-building at home, and one that wouldn’t work anyway.

What would be the natural response to legislation banning flag burning? More flag burning.

How many people is America going to lock up for such actions, and how ludicrous would the country look when said statistics come to light?

How could Americans stand tall when other entities like the European Union or Iran imprison their own citizens for low level dissent if the United States too was restricting freedom based on lack of respect for a national symbol?

And what does a lack of national respect mean, anyway?

DESECRATION

Anti flag burning amendments have used the following phrase:

“The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.”

So it’s not just about burning. It’s about desecration in totality.

Would an anti-U.S. flag meme qualify as a crime?

What is desecration?

It would probably include a lot of the things we see as a celebration of the United States, as well as things that were satirical.

Dictionaries define desecration as violations of sanctity, or to treat with disrespect.
Would people be in violation of an anti-flag desecration amendment if they flew the flag at night without properly illuminating it?

What about flying it upside down?

How about if the flag falls into disrepair because of neglect by its user? It’s that disrespectful?

What about satire or legitimate criticism? Could you be held accountable for promoting anti-corporatist messages like the one below, using the flag to make a political point?

What about digital desecration? Would an anti-U.S. flag meme qualify as a crime?

Desecration is a broad and unwieldy tool when you start to consider these things. Even further if you

THE VALUE OF FLAG BURNING

America finds its special place in the world not because of its flag, but because of what it stands for.

When foreigners see the American flag they don’t revere it for its aesthetics.

Via PXHere

The flag represents the nation. And the nation is who the people are.

But what if I chose to burn, say, a copy of the U.S. Constitution? Should that be banned also?

When I see the American flag I think of a people so savvy that they demanded to be armed, indefinitely, in case their government attacked them. I think of the Second Amendment.

I think of a nation where the right to speech and expression are historically valued more than anything else. I think of the First Amendment.

If I choose to burn the U.S. flag, I am abiding by the first two points of the Constitution by exercising my disdain for government and its actions, and insisting upon my right to defend myself from that.

The European Union doesn’t believe in such things. Nor do most countries. Because they are uneasy with themselves and therefore uneasy with dissent.

In forcing a nation to comply with an anti-flag desecration Amendment, America is admitting it is no longer a nation at ease with itself. And maybe that’s true. But totalitarianism should be the way to fix it. And even in the worst case scenario, it shouldn’t be the first instinct to address the matter.

WHERE DOES IT STOP?

The flag isn’t the only symbol of the United States. There are plenty.

While it is already illegal to burn the almighty dollar (and shave or flatten the less mighty penny), these are for anti-counterfeiting reasons.

It is also illegal to kill a golden or bald eagle. But these are for conservationist reasons.

The American flag is neither at risk of counterfeit, nor extinction.

But what if I chose to burn, say, a copy of the U.S. Constitution? Should that be banned also?

Flickr CC

What if I spat on the Great Seal? Or remixed the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner in an insulting fashion?

Preserve your right to do basically whatever the heck you want.

Why aren’t the writers of the television show Community in prison for making the school motto in the show ‘E Pluribus Anus’?

Flag burning and desecration are relatively new concepts in the American political psyche. At least aimed inwardly.

There was no hesitation to burn items belonging to the British government in the years America was declaring itself an independent nation. And as I often remind people, if there was ever a circumstance whereby you needed to “dissolve the political bands” again – it would be the government, not the people, laying claim to Old Glory as troops fought civilians in the streets.

So preserve your right to burn the flag.

Preserve your right to do basically whatever the heck you want.

This is still America, after all. Right?

Raheem Kassam is the Editor in Chief of Human Events.

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Written By

Raheem Kassam is the Global Editor-in-Chief of Human Events. Previously the Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart London, as well as the former senior advisor to Brexit leader Nigel Farage, Kassam is also the bestselling author of 'No Go Zones: How Sharia Law is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You' and 'Enoch Was Right: Rivers of Blood 50 Years On'. Kassam is a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute, a fellow at the Bow Group, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum

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