by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef’s latest column for Forbes addresses President-elect Donald Trump’s recent comments about flag burning.
Here’s what Trump wrote: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail!”
The very last thing we need in America is more activism meant to punish people for thinking the wrong things. Our college campuses are awash in left-wing thought control, whereby students who say or write anything that hypersensitive students or administrators find offensive can be punished. That’s bad enough. We do not need a right-wing counter-movement led by Trump doing the same.
One troubling aspect of Trump’s declaration is that it bespeaks either ignorance of or hostility to the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence. We have considerable history with cases involving governmental efforts at stamping out dissent generally and involving the flag specifically. …
… Does Donald Trump want to overturn Johnson so we can again prosecute people for not having the right thoughts about the flag? Evidently so, but I cannot see how that does any good. Sure, it would satisfy some of his most vociferous supporters, but it would be a terrible step backwards.
It would be a step in the direction of the same politically correct intolerance by leftists that so energized many Trump supporters. As American Enterprise Institute scholar Ben Zycher writes, “Does Mr. Trump recognize that he has endorsed the intellectual underpinnings of hate-crime legislation, the inexorable end-game product of the political rectitude that he campaigned against?”