(Conservative Review) — My main concern with Donald Trump ascending to the presidency is and has always been the reactionary authoritarian streak that so clearly runs through him. While he may have some good instincts when it comes to tax reform or the role of government in education, he also views the force of law as a means of imposing his personal preferences on everyone else. Case in point: in a recent tweet, Trump proposed loss of citizenship, or a year in prison, for anyone caught burning a copy of the American flag.
Now, I consider myself a patriot. I love America, and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. However, the idea of persecuting someone for peacefully protesting the country goes against everything America is all about. After all, it’s worth remembering that America was born when a group of British citizens saw fit to criticize their own country in the strongest possible terms. The Founders wanted to ensure that no American would ever feel fear or intimidation when speaking out against perceived injustice, and what is flag burning but a particularly flamboyant means of doing just that?
In fairness to Trump, he is far from the first to propose a ban on flag burning. Bills are periodically introduced in Congress to do the same thing, and a large number of states have even petitioned for a constitutional amendment to make flag burning a crime. I guess it’s an understandable instinct. The flag is a symbol, one that represents everything that is good about our country and one that a lot of people take very seriously. Seeing that symbol desecrated is no doubt painful to many, especially those who have put their lives on the line to defend the American way of life. But feeling upset is not a good reason to ban something, and basing laws on individual emotions is a terrible way to set policy. In fact, it’s something we constantly complain about when it comes from the Social Justice Warriors who believe there is a right not to be offended.