So, the person who will presumably become the next president of the United States had a little tweetstorm which included the statement that people who burn the American flag should suffer some consequence like losing their citizenship or spending a year in prison.
There are just so, so many things going on here. One thing nobody seems to be commenting on: Trumpelthinskin apparently believes that loss of U.S. citizenship is roughly equivalent to spending a mere year behind bars. Seriously?
Which prison was he thinking of sending them to--Guantanamo?
Anyway, many people are responding to this. Some people think that responding to DJT's tweets at all is a mistake: Trump Wants You to Burn Flags While He Burns Constitution
But why would he choose to pick this strange fight? Here is a case where the common complaint that he is distracting the public from unflattering stories rings true. Proposing a flag-burning ban is a classic right-wing nationalist distraction, and Trump has a number of ugly stories from which to distract: his plan for massive, unprecedented corruption, the extreme beliefs of his appointees, a controversy over a recount that highlights his clear defeat in the national vote....
Trump’s flag-burning tweet is a frightening moment not because his proposal stands any chance of enactment, but because it reflects one of the few signs that his dangerous and authoritarian politics is calculated, and not merely crazy.
While there may be some merit to that argument, there's also the fact that the person we expect to be sworn in as the next president apparently wants us to believe that a proposal to strip someone of U.S. citizenship for exercising their first amendment rights is acceptable in American political discourse.
David Frum asks on Twitter: If flag-burning merits loss of citizenship, what should be the penalty for a Nazi salute by a Trump supporter?
which seems like a valid question.
Regarding flag burning, here's a bit of the SCOTUS decision U.S. v. Eichman: "Government may create national symbols, promote them, and encourage their respectful treatment," Brennan wrote. "But the Flag Protection Act of 1989 goes well beyond this by criminally proscribing expressive conduct because of its likely communicative impact. We are aware that desecration of the flag is deeply offensive to many. But the same might be said, for example, of virulent ethnic and religious epithets, vulgar repudiations of the draft, and scurrilous caricatures [all of which the Court had deemed protected by the First Amendment]. 'If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.' Punishing desecration of the flag dilutes the very freedom that makes this emblem so revered, and worth revering."
Yes, I am aware that HRC also wanted to outlaw flag-burning. I'm not a fan of the idea when it comes from her either, though at least she's never proposed stripping someone's citizenship for the act.
Also, if you were wondering if a natural-born U.S. citizen could lose their citizenship, the answer is yes, but neither burning a flag nor getting on Trumpelthinskin's nerves is enough to do it:
Section 349 of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1481), as amended, states that U.S. nationals are subject to loss of nationality if they perform certain specified acts voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. nationality.More info here.
DJT isn't even president yet and he seems intent on proving in more and more ways every day that he is completely unfit for the office. This Is Not Normal. This Is Not Okay.