[The following letter was sent to the Bedford Times-Mail for the "reader's perspective" feature dealing with the flag protection amendment.]
Subject: The flag desecration amendment
To the editor:
What is the point of making American flags into sacred objects? The main argument holds that people fought and died for "the flag." But that was never true. The people who signed the Declaration of Independence fought for freedom from an oppressive government, not to venerate a decorated piece of cloth. Besides, there was no national flag -- there were more different flag designs carried into battle than there were rebellious states. Incidentally, one of these flags was made by cutting up a British flag -- an act of "desecration."
When a free person puts his life on the line, it's for things like preserving one's home, or family, or way of life. Those things can all be lumped under the general category of "freedom". Certainly when I talked with my father or father-in-law about why they enlisted after Pearl Harbor, their answers ultimately amounted to, "I was fighting for freedom." The subject of "the flag" never came up.
About all one can say is that "the flag" is a symbol -- but a symbol of what? In actual fact, it represents the government of the United States. Behind that government is a document called the Constitution. That document is the concrete realization of the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence. If the U.S. government abandons those principles, "the flag" becomes a symbol of oppression.
I find it ironic that the amendment's strongest supporters are conservatives who also see an ever-expanding federal government daily encroaching upon our fundamental freedoms. If this amendment is not helping to roll back government and secure our freedoms then why have it? The best explanation is that the flag desecration amendment is a maneuver by cynical politicians seeking to divert attention from their own constitutional transgressions.
--Paul Hager, Libertarian candidate for 8th District U.S. Representative