The founding fathers - Jefferson, Franklin and Madison - cautioned in the Declaration of Independence,
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.
Amendments change the Constitution - hence the government. It is a big deal - or it ought to be or we risk trivializing the Constitution. After the ten articles of the Bill of Rights, the United States Constitution has been amended only 17 times - and two amendments cancel each other - when liquor was banned and then the ban lifted. That means only 15 Amendments. And what are they mainly about?
The Amendments abolished slavery, gave women the vote, lowered the voting age to 18, repealed the poll tax, allowed for the direct election of Senators (and not by state legislatures), and worked out some Presidential succession issues and limited the number of times a person could be President and how Congress was paid.
The founders wanted to limit what the government could do, not what the people could do. The Amendments usually clarify that the people have more power than before and/or they curb the government - amendments about liquor and income tax the notable exceptions. This is in keeping with limiting the government.
The Constitution by and large limits the powers of the government, not of the people.
It seems to me, amending the Constitution over flag desecration is an Amendment of "light and transient cause." Defending the flag? When did this start? Actually it was during the original battle between the Red and Blue States - the American Civil War. It was a remnant of the attempt to bind the nation's wounds.
When George Walker Bush was in elementary school, the last of the people who fought in the American Civil War were dying - by then old men who had once been drummer boys. As we all know, the Red States had left the Union. A pledge was required for all, but aimed at the Red States - those that tried to secede from the Union and the purpose of the pledge was to get the Red States to declare they were part of an indivisible union. Their seats in Congress depended on it. Their right to vote depended on it. The Red States had to renounce their allegiance to the Confederacy and to come back into the Union by forswearing other flags - like the Stars and Bars. They had to give up the idea of slavery. This is the purpose of the pledge. It went,
I pledge allegiance to the flag and the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
When George Walker Bush was in elementary school, the Civil War was part of living memory for some of the oldest people, still alive. Many of the Southerners thought the pledge of allegiance to be odious.
When George Walker Bush was in elementary school, the words "under God" were inserted into the pledge and the cadence of the pledge - to this very day! - has that pause when "teacher" re-taught us to remember to slip that phrase, "under God," in.
This may have been the time that a generation of children were indoctrinated into believing that our allegiance was to a flag of a nation under God. Some of us old enough to remember the inclusion of "under God" simply do not say that part of the pledge. They recite the older pledge - but that's an aside.
When George Walker Bush was in elementary school, some children came to believe our republic was a theocracy, not understanding - still being elementary school children - that the term "under God," as used by the founding fathers (many of whom were atheists), was to refute the theory of "divine right of kings." Instead, the founders argued that people do not get power from what the king allows people to have, but rather - as the Declaration of Independence states -
all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights
Freedom is a "natural" right - a natural state of man. The Constitution is a contract between the people and the government. Again from the Declaration,
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
The Constitution and the Amendments is when the people control the government, not the other way around. Loyalty to the United States is to the Constitution, not to the President or the Flag or the party in power, no matter how many electoral votes they got, no matter what God they worship, and no matter how much they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Let us look at what Americanism is. It has to do with upholding the Constitution, not as George W. Bush said to the school girl in the Frontline episode, "The Jesus Factor" that there was a higher law than the Constitution.
The oath of allegiance which the military, naturalized citizens, our government officials adhere to is different from the pledge to the flag and promising not to secede and own slaves. The oath of allegiance does not even mention the flag, even once, and the one reference to God is the idiom "so help me God," which is equivalent to repeating "I swear under oath." It is an oath to uphold the Constitution.
But that does not seem to be the mind-set among many who think it is the flag that is in more danger than the Republic for which it stands.
Again, the same founding fathers in the same venerable document wrote, in 1776, some of the reasons they had to break with the mother country and declare independence. Among the abuses of King George III and his government,
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Any of this sound familiar?