Desecrating the Bill of Rights is a far more terrible thing than desecrating the American flag. The Bill of Rights protects Americans’ freedom, the envy of the world, and does it 24/7. The flag is a symbol such as every country has, intended to stir feelings of patriotism. It is brought out for holidays, and for reprobate politicians to wave to divert attention from their misdeeds. Usually, these politicians never fought under it themselves, though they’re quick to send others to do so. “The higher they carry the flag, the farther they were from the front,” a World War II vet once told us.
The Bush administration and the congressional majority, both infested with chickenhawks, seek a constitutional amendment to prohibit flag-burning, a form of political expression heretofore protected. For the first time, the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights would be restricted, and the U.S.A. would join a select group of nations that ban flag desecration, including Cuba, China, Iran and Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Promoters of the anti-flag-burning amendment have said that if it’s adopted, they’ll come back with more — to restrict freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble … The Republican leadership believes it can gain political advantage by forcing votes on divisive issues, and is ready to sacrifice free speech for better numbers in the polls. These are perverted and un-American priorities indeed.
Political parties that are mere auxiliaries of an established church are common in parts of the world where liberty is uncommon. In America, the founders wisely took steps to keep church and state apart, for the protection of the church, the state and the people.
Times change. Political scholar and former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips wrote recently in the Washington Post, “Now that the GOP has been transformed by the rise of the South, the trauma of terrorism and George W. Bush’s conviction that God wanted him to be president, a deeper conclusion can be drawn: The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history.”
Simultaneously, one of the biggest religious denominations in America has become so openly political that it’s hard to tell the church and the party apart. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice appeared before the Southern Baptist Convention last week and received a thunderous ovation when she spoke of the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Resolutions were adopted in support of President Bush, and the group’s outgoing president prayed for Rice, asking God to “send a band of angels and swords of fire to camp out over her presence and to protect her from the evil one. … You know how long we have yearned for leadership such as this.” Non-Democratic, that is.