On Friday, protesters in Tampa assembled to burn the American Flag. They claimed that the purpose was to show their solidarity with the churches in Charleston after nine people were murdered by Dylann Roof. After they burned the American flag, they also burned a Confederate flag. According to WSTP, one of the protesters, Jesse Nevel, called the flag a piece of “sh–.”
“To us the Confederate flag and the American flag, those represent the same thing which is that this country, this social system was built on slavery and genocide.”
The group of activists said that they had three demands: take down the Confederate flag at I-4, rename Robert E. Lee Elementary, and do more to investigate stops involving black cyclists.
Although in some ways I am sympathetic to the right of protesters to express themselves, at the same time, I feel so angry by the way they have considered expressing themselves. Although it is legal to burn the American flag as stated in the Supreme Court ruling Texas v Johnson (1989), at USCOURTS, that doesn’t make it right.
Did they not learn anything at all from Dr. Martin Luther King? Dr. King never burned the American flag. He never tried to divide Americans. All he asked for was that black Americans be granted the same rights as other Americans. Equality under the law. He used peaceful means to accomplish his objectives, something we could all learn from.
It has been 51 years since the Civil Right Act of 1964 was signed into law. Americans seem to be more racially divided now than ever before. Many on both sides are angry. I’m angry. As a veteran who is also white, I’m really tired of being told I’m racist because I’m white, I’m a Southerner, and whatever other excuse I have been given for why I am to blame for the so-called “oppression” in this country.
I never owned a slave. The few times I’ve ever been in charge on a job, I didn’t discriminate against anyone because of the color of their skin. I just don’t think it’s relevant when it comes to determining a person’s job qualifications.
Why are so many Americans angry? Why do so many think that it is OK to burn the American flag? Have these people actually been discriminated against, or are they carrying around generational hatred?
As a veteran who has suffered from Post Traumatic Stress and depression for years, one of the things I learned when I finally decided to get treatment is that I am responsible for how I feel about anything that happens in my life. Not only am I responsible for my feelings, I am responsible for my emotions and actions too. Unforgiveness for perceived injustices simply hold us back, and burning the American flag isn’t the way to handle the problem. It only alienates more and more Americans and deepens the divide that prevents us from moving ahead as a country.
Although I don’t respect burning the American flag, I respect the right of those who do it to do it. If black lives do matter, then I really wish they would learn a lesson from that church in Charleston where nine people were murdered: that there comes a time when we must all forgive what has happened to us so that we are free.
The real oppression here is believing that if we refuse to forgive, then we are weak or those who hurt us won’t pay for what they did. No one has a monopoly on trouble in life. We all have struggles. Successful people accept their struggles, make peace with them and move on. They simply do not waste their time placing blame and making excuses.
There comes a time where we finally have to say enough. Burning the American flag just isn’t the answer. There are better ways to express ourselves and garner the support we want for what we believe than burning the American flag, which almost incited riots in New York when veterans heard about it.
Over one million American veterans have given their lives in the service of this country, and for me, when we burn the flag, we are saying we don’t appreciate their sacrifice. As a veteran, I didn’t put my life on the line for just one group of Americans or the ones I liked. I put my life on the line for all of them. Yes, black lives matter. Every American deserves the American Dream. More importantly, all lives matter. Do we really want another civil war in this country? Have we learned nothing?
In the words of Abraham Lincoln in his second Inaugural Address, it’s time to bind the nation’s wounds.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
What do you think about burning the American flag? Is America really a nation of people who are still being oppressed?
[Photo Credit Heartland]