On November 29, Donald Trump threatened: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag—if they do, there must be consequences—perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Make no mistake: This is part of a whole fascist assault on people’s rights, and the rule of law, shredding established constitutional rights, and imposing open violent repression against dissent.
Joey Johnson and the RNC 16 did the right thing when they burned the American flag in Cleveland outside the arena where Trump was being nominated. Joey Johnson and other flag-burners were violently assaulted by pro-Trump thugs associated with Alex Jones and InfoWars, and police. Now Joey Johnson and others—the RNC 16—face serious criminal charges. Others who have burned the flag did the right thing as well, including students at Pitt, at Hampshire College, and protesters outside the White House when Trump was elected.
Burning the American flag is constitutionally protected free speech. In 1984, Joey Johnson burned the American flag outside the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas as Ronald Reagan was being renominated for a second term. He was arrested for “desecration of a venerated object,” jailed, tried, convicted, sentenced to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Joey Johnson appealed the conviction and fought for five years to the U.S. Supreme Court. And he fought in the court of public opinion against forced patriotism. The support built outside the court, combined with the legal strategy of his legal team (including William Kunstler) led to a Supreme Court decision that burning the American flag is constitutionally protected free speech.
But now the president-elect of the United States, the next commander in chief, just decreed—without any legal justification—that this act of dissent and free speech should result in people going to jail, or even becoming stateless people without citizenship, without any legal protections at all. Trump’s threat smacks of the Nazi legislation—and the Nazi mentality—that made it a crime to “profane” the swastika. This is deadly serious. It is a hint, along with so many other outrages, of the kind of fascist regime that Trump intends to impose. It is yet another reason why people cannot normalize this, but must actually undertake unprecedented resistance to prevent Trump from consolidating his regime.
In response to Trump’s threat, the Revolution Club, NYC burned the American flag outside Trump’s hotel, and challenged others to do the same.
People SHOULD TAKE UP THAT CHALLENGE!
Because the United States was founded on slavery, Black people still have no rights this white supremacist system is bound to respect, and there is an epidemic of unpunished murder by police.
Because the U.S.A. was built on and continues to carry out genocide of the native peoples.
Because America was created by stealing half of Mexico’s land in a war of conquest, rape and plunder in 1846-48.
Because in America a woman is raped every two minutes and a woman is battered every nine seconds—violence fueled by a culture of porn and patriarchy.
Because the U.S. massacred over 200,000 innocent civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, with nuclear bombs and is the only country that’s ever used them.
Because the U.S. murdered three million people during the Vietnam War and has killed over 1.3 million in the Middle East since 9/11.
Because America imprisons two million people, mostly Black and Latino—more than any country on earth.
Because the U.S. terrorizes and demonizes immigrants, deporting 1.7 million in the last five years alone.
Because America’s wealth comes from exploiting and enslaving millions of people here and around the world, including children, from Mexico to China to Congo to Bangladesh.
Because America has done more to destroy the planet’s environment than any other country on earth—the U.S. military is the single greatest institutional polluter in the world.
For all those reasons and a million more, and because people need to stand up to and defy Trump’s move to impose fascism…
And because if Trump gets away with silencing and intimidating people with this threat, coming on the heels of appointing fascists to his cabinet, that will be one more big step in imposing fascist terror against all dissent…
And here’s the most important thing: The world does NOT have to be this way. And because of the work, and leadership of Bob Avakian, there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.
So right now, there is an urgent need for people to do two things. First, to confront the threat on so many fronts posed by Trump’s fascism and carry out unprecedented resistance to prevent him from consolidating this. Second, to dig deeply the nature of this system, what it does to people here and around the world, and to dig into and get with the movement for revolution that is organizing to overthrow this system at the soonest possible time.