By Austin Anderholt | United States
Many conservatives like to proudly stand for the pledge and national anthem. Along with that, they denounce people who don’t, especially those who burn the flag. “It’s disrespectful to our troops who died for your freedom!” They yell. “The American flag stands for freedom, so why burn it?” These statements are beyond false. Sitting for the pledge is not disrespectful to anyone who fought for it, it is but a sign of freedom and solidarity against the state.
Conservatives often like to tout a common phrase: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” They argue that, just because their opinions are offensive to you, they aren’t incorrect. With this argument, we can deduce a few things about the American flag:
It’s your constitutional and natural right to burn or sit for it.
If one did disrespect it, it shouldn’t be considered offensive, because “facts don’t care about your feelings.”
A conservative might then say “But the American flag is more than a cloth to be burned! It represents freedom! People died for that flag!”
First of all, the American flag represents the American government, just as the British flag represents the British government, the Canadian flag represents the Canadian government, the list goes on and on. Sure, you might have an IDEA that America should be this or that, but that doesn’t make it so the flag now magically reflects your personal values. If I am a communist, the American flag represents the American government. If I am an anarchist, the American flag represents the American government. It doesn’t matter what values I have, the American flag represents the American government and nothing else. One cannot say “The American flag represents [whatever is currently convenient in a debate].” After all, I thought facts didn’t care about your feelings.
Even if the American flag did objectively represent freedom, and freedom only, that’s still very arbitrary. Am I a traitor simply because I don’t agree with your personal ideas of what “freedom” is?
Finally, the desecration of the American flag should not be considered offensive because people died to protect it. This is a logical fallacy called an appeal to emotion. Once again, if no one died to protect the flag, it still represents the American government. If a billion people died to protect the flag, it still represents the government. The government remains unaffected by how emotional conservatives can make their cloth.
People died for Hitler. I’m sure many of these people just thought they were “doing the patriotic thing” by fighting for their leader. Does that mean that it’s disrespectful not to hail Hitler? People died patriotically for the hammer and sickle. Does that mean it’s disrespectful not to pledge yourself to the Soviet flag? Of course not! Just because people died for something doesn’t mean it’s disrespectful not to praise it. People die for bad causes all the time. I guess we should be saluting terrorists because they’re fighting for a cause!
“But there are people who have a disability that stops them from standing for the pledge! Think about all the soldiers that have lost their legs and can’t stand!”
Just because someone can’t voice their political beliefs doesn’t mean I have to give up mine. I’m sure there’s plenty of people that physically can’t go out and protest for causes they agree with. For example, let’s say someone absolutely loves communism, but they can’t fight for it because they have some sort of medical condition that keeps them from talking. That doesn’t mean that it’s disrespectful for me to not go out and yell “Communism is great!” even if I disagree.
The American pledge of allegiance mentions the government three times. It does not mention heroes or the landmass of America at all. The pledge and flag are about pledging yourself to an illegitimate state. Of course, you have the right not to, but the state teaches us as 5-year-olds to pledge themselves to the state. Does a 5-year-old know what it means when they are pledging themselves to the state? I think not.
In conclusion, the American flag represents one thing and one thing only: the American government. It doesn’t stand for your political beliefs, or troops. In fact, if you refuse to pledge yourself to the state, you are more American than anyone who blinding salutes the flag because they are afraid of “offending people.” Veterans are not the arbiter of freedom and American government, and even if they were the American flag does not stand for them or freedom. It represents the state, and only the state, and desecrating it is your right. Do not let anyone tell you that you should feel bad for exercising your rights because it hurts their feelings,