Another day, another controversial tweet by Donald Trump. It all started with the "Hamilton" fiasco, where Trump demanded that the cast of "Hamilton" apologize to Mike Pence for expressing their concerns. A few days later, Trump claimed that he would of won the popular vote if millions of illegal immigrants didn't vote. Now, he's back at it again:
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
This time, Donald Trump takes aim at the individuals protesting his victory. During the campaign trail, a lot of time was spent discussing the Second Amendment, and making sure citizens retain their right to bear arms. Unfortunately, it seems like Trump has overlooked the First Amendment. I'm not sure what's worse: Trump not understanding the parameters of the First Amendment or Trump fully understanding it, and moving forward anyway.
The First Amendment
Since the 1967 case, Afroyim vs Rusk, "the Constitution does not allow the government to expatriate Americans against their will," according to Charlie Savage of the NY Times. In the 1989 case, Texas vs Johnson, "the court struck down criminal laws banning flag burning, ruling that the act was a form of political expression protected by the First Amendment."
One of the five pillars of the First Amendment is the freedom of speech, and under that umbrella is the freedom of expression. Burning the flag is a "form of political expression," and taking away citizenship because of these actions is in direct conflict with the First Amendment.
Let's be clear: I do not support the burning of the American flag, as there are more productive ways to combat political change in this country. If you are adamant about enacting change within our political system, it must be done from within.
When Bernie Sanders said that we needed a political revolution, he not only meant that more people needed to vote, but that more people needed to be involved in the political process from a grassroots level. You want to see change? Get involved locally, and move your way up.
With that being said, Donald Trump is being reckless. He hasn't even been sworn in, and is already laying the groundwork for autocracy. Putting it simply, autocracy is a system of government by which one person has absolute power. I refuse to believe that Trump is unaware of people's First Amendment rights. I do believe, however, that he doesn't care, and that, is scary.
He's attacked media outlets (freedom of the press) for their biased content, attacked Alec Baldwin for impersonating him on SNL (freedom of speech), singled out Muslims and actively blamed them for any and all terrorist attacks (freedom of religion), and now wants to retract citizenship to those who burn the American flag (freedom of assembly).
So far, it seems that Trump is using his Twitter as a distraction from his lack of preparation in selecting his cabinet positions. Then again, I didn't even expect to be calling Trump President-Elect, so at this point, anything is possible. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will continue to protect citizens' rights, like they've done in the past. #DonaldTrump #trump's cabinet #donald trump flag burning