VALDOSATA, Ga. (Christian Examiner) -- An Air Force veteran was hauled away in handcuffs and detained by campus security at Valdosta State University in Georgia after she stopped protesters from desecrating an American flag.
Michelle Manhart admits that she snatched Old Glory from a group of demonstrators who put the flag on the ground and were walking on it.
One member of the unnamed group told the Valdosta Daily Times they were desecrating the flag as "a symbol of our protest."
"When a slave understands his situation and understands he doesn't want to be in slavery, he does not respect or revere anything his slave master has put in front of him, a VSU student told the newspaper.
Manhart was issued a criminal trespass warning and was slapped with a lifetime ban from the public university campus.
"The flag is an iconic symbol for freedom," Manhart told me in a telephone interview. "If you are going to fight for a cause and use the First Amendment - how are you going to stomp and trample the icon that gives you that right?"
Valdosta State University, which is funded by tax dollars, issued two statements defending the desecration of the American flag.
"We respect the rights of people to peacefully assemble and voice their opinions," the statement read. "Our primary concern is the safety of our students, faculty and staff and our ability to carry out our responsibilities to all our students on campus. We are monitoring the situation."
On Saturday, the president of Valdosta State, sent me this statement:
"The American flag represents everything that is best about our country," Dr. William McKinney said. "As the Supreme Court has held, one of those things is the right to free speech, which includes the right to disrespect even the symbol of our country. While I firmly disagree with the actions of the protesters, I understand their right to protest."
In other words, Valdosta State University loves flag burners more so than flag wavers.
Manhart, whose husband is a 21-year airman deployed overseas, admitted that she took the flag.
"It was tattered and torn, covered with mud and dirt," she said. "I told the demonstrators that it needed to be properly disposed of."
Manhart learned about the flag desecration last week. A family acquaintance told her the demonstrators had been trampling on the flag for three days. So Manhart called the university to complain. She said she was told the matter would be investigated.
On April 17th Manhart learned the demonstrators had once again desecrated the flag - so she drove to the campus and eventually took matters into her own hands. She brought along her 19-year-old daughter who filmed the entire incident.
"I walked up, picked up the flag and walked away," she said.
The video shows Manhart being surrounded by angry screaming protesters. An unidentified demonstrator grabs the flag - but Manhart refused to let go.
Campus police ordered Manhart to drop the flag. She disobeyed their orders. It took three police officers to subdue the Air Force veteran.
As they were leading Marhart away, someone on the video can be heard asking the police, "You couldn't stand up for the flag?"
She was detained for several hours and initially the campus police officers threatened to file federal charges. However, she was eventually set free and banished from the public university campus.
Manhart told me she could just not allow those demonstrators to desecrate the nation's flag.
"I have seen that flag on caskets returning home," she said. "It was just the thought of those demonstrators standing on someone's casket. I was so internally frustrated."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Manhart was reprimanded by the military in 2007 after she appeared in Playboy. She posed wearing her uniform and also draped in the American flag. The newspaper reports she was demoted and quit the Air Force the following year. Manhart told me she was honorably discharged.
The intellectual elites at Valdosta State University should be ashamed of their behavior. They should be honoring brave patriots like Michelle Manhart. Instead, they hauled this brave woman away in handcuffs and banished her from their campus.
The way I see it - her only crime was behaving exactly the way we would expect a veteran of the Armed Forces to behave.